Tuesday, March 18, 2014

5 Years NED!

Great news: my CT results from a couple weeks back were 'all clear' and today marks 5 years ago to the day that I had my liposarcoma tumor excised from my left leg.  Given that was the last step in the treatment process, I've made it 5 years (and still counting) with No Evidence of Disease.  This is a big milestone for any cancer patient, and I'm happy to have hit it.

While I was in the thick of my treatment, there were literally dozens of people who were supporting me and my family in so many different ways.  Friends and neighbors dropped by to wish me well and bring us meals; that was a godsend!  Family came from near and far to support me, and were always there when I needed them most.  Coworkers (both past and present) posted humorous and supporting comments on this blog, which encouraged me daily.  Bosses gave me every type of flexibility I needed with my job and made it abundantly clear that they expected me back.  It's hard to express how important that feeling of being wanted, appreciated, and cared for means to a new cancer patient, but my friends, family, and coworkers all instinctively knew how to deliver, and I am forever grateful!

Perhaps the biggest surprise was how much encouragement I would receive from people I didn't even know.  A number of 'total strangers' (many of whom were sarcoma survivors) posted the kindest words of encouragement on this blog.  No doubt those words got me through some very difficult times.  Also a surprise was the camaraderie and words of wisdom I received from my "chemo buddies" in the Sarcoma ward.  They, being ahead of me in the treatment schedule, were able to speak as veterans and let me know first-hand the sorts of side-effects and complications they had experienced.  This helped me immensely as my chemotherapy was fraught with complications.

And finally, I must thank the wonderful and caring Emory doctors and nurses who took such great care of me.  Dr. Gina D'Amato (my main oncologist) always lit up the room with her bright smile.  The chemo was indeed "tough love" (as she described it), but she monitored the results carefully, showed me that the treatment was working, and gave me the courage to keep going. Of course she was supported by the many great nurses there at Emory Midtown (formerly Crawford Long), who I got to know well during those 5 months.  Dr. Karen Godette was my radiation oncologist, and I just loved her crew of nurses and radiation techs who I saw nearly every day for 5 weeks.  Last but not least is Dr. David Monson, my orthopedic oncologist and all-around great guy.  He was the doctor responsible for my initial biopsy, later the surgery, and now my routine scans.  His calm demeanor and straight talk are hallmarks of his practice.  Thank you all!

Speaking of scans, the cool thing about hitting the 5-year mark is that my scan schedule drops to just once a year.  However, since my last scan was just a chest CT, Dr. Monson has scheduled me for a complete set of scans (CAP CT and MRI of left leg) on August 26th.  That will become my new 'baseline' and I will switch to annual scans thereafter.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  We'll talk again in about 5 months!