(Originally published May 10, 2022)
The numbers are still trending in the right direction. White blood cell (immunity) and hemoglobin ("your blood works") are both in normal range. Red blood cell ("your blood works") and platelet counts (bleeding risk) are low, but that is to be expected with both the disease and the medication that I am on. They are either stable or trending in the right direction.
As much as I enjoyed the company of the folks at the Inova Mount Vernon Transfusion Center, it appears I won't be seeing them for a while.
Generally, I feel ok. We are taking longer dog walks, I'm able to get up and down the hills in our neighborhood with little effort, and I am perky (and healthy) enough to do mundane things like grocery shopping and cooking.
It shocked me to discover how much I missed going to the grocery store.
I need to remember that this is still active treatment... a form of chemo taken every day at home vs. 2-3 intensive treatment days. I've been finding myself dragging in the afternoon and napping more.
I am also shedding a lot, which is a surprise since I didn't think the Zanubrutinib caused hair loss. Thankfully, I have a lot of hair to lose. We'll see whether this is just an amplified spring shedding or the beginnings of a new look.
Still, the spleen is down to where it is only 1cm beneath my ribs (vs taking up over 1/3 of my abdominal cavity) and the oncologist hasn't been able to feel my lymph nodes in the past couple of visits. I have received the doctor's go-ahead to start ramping up my exercise (slowly).
More exciting to me, I only have to do blood tests every OTHER week (vs weekly). I'm sure my veins and the phlebotomists will be happy about that.
Barring severe bruising, bleeding, headaches, spleen enlargement, and/or heart issues - I will see the oncologist next month. As much as I like him - I'm looking forward to the break and hope to not talk to him until early June.
If you are looking for an understanding of the cancer journey, particularly for those of us with chronic and systemic cancers such as Lymphoma, The Patient Story is a great place to start.
A changing identity is a part of the experience that isn't talked about enough. Not only is there the involuntary transition into "cancer patient" - the journey changes us and, for many, we may not have the option of going back to our old lives.
Michele Nadeem-Baker eloquently speaks about her experience with these changes and the search for "purpose" as part of the journey.