Last weekend, during the Dawson City Music Festival, my favourite band Elliott Brood highlighted the festival, with two performances. I went to their first set on Friday and had a blast! It wore me out though, so despite having tickets for the Sunday show too, I listened from our front porch instead, since we’re less than a block behind the main stage.
During the Sunday performance, I swear I heard them call me to the stage. I heard my name three times. It was so surreal. I was sitting on my porch, toe tapping to the best of my ability with these weak abs from the surgery slice, and suddenly during a song I hear my first and last name, three times. I look around, but it was close to midnight, no one was around, Jeff was in bed. I was sure it was just an auditory hallucination, they must have been saying something else and my weary brain heard what it wanted to. I decided I never wanted to know the truth, and my imagination was good enough.
Then on the following Tuesday my neighbour, who was at the performance, also mentioned the shout out! What!? It was real? I may never know for sure, but wow!!
You should do me a favour and take a listen to some Elliott Brood! Just be careful if you rock out when you’re driving, and maybe use cruise control, because you’ll be toe tapping on your gas pedal!
I was flown down to Vancouver for two appointments with oncologists at the BC Cancer agency this week. My travel was covered by the Yukon Government’s medical travel, and we paid out of pocket for Jeff to join me so he could help ask all our questions and take notes. Plus I can’t lift anything over 5 pounds so he needed to carry our suitcase!
It was a long day of travel down on Wednesday. The two flights were separated by a 5 hour wait on a hard wooden seat in the Whitehorse airport, and by the time we got to the hotel in Vancouver late in the day, I was so sore, exhausted, and actually quite weepy. Was it just the tiredness, or is this weepiness part of this surgical menopause? Either way, I topped the night off with my blood thinner shot in the thigh from my loving husband, and then fell into a deep sleep.
I was much better the next day and ready for whatever the appointments were ready to tell me. First, I had a visit with a nurse to take my vitals, height, weight, etc. All good there. Then we met with the medical oncology team about the plans for chemo, followed by a visit with the radiation oncologist.
I was also examined. She said my incision has healed very well, and the vaginal cuff has healed well too (my cervix was removed so the rest was stitched up. TMI I know!). What I thought was a large hematoma under the lower part of my incision, is suspected to be fluid instead, a “seroma”, that should be reabsorbed slowly on its own.
All the pathology results were reviewed in detail with me. So the cancer started in the lining of my uterus, and then spread. The uterine portion was a grade 1 endometriod cancer which is the slowest growing. However due to the spread and the mass the cancer was given a grade 3 score. Because grade 1 cancer cells grow so slow, they are actually harder to treat with chemo compared to faster growing/replicating cancers. (I thought that was really interesting.)
I had clear margins on all the material removed from me. However they did an abdominal wash after the surgery, before I was stapled shut, and that wash did show cancer cells still, which sounds like it was expected, and likely what the surgeon referred to when he said there would be microscopic cancer cells left around that would require treatment.
So, the treatment plan! They want to do a “sandwich” treatment for me. This means radiation sandwiched between chemo. So I’ll have 3 rounds of chemo (carbo/taxol) followed by radiation (25 doses over 5 weeks), followed by 3 more rounds of chemo. The chemo will kill off the rogue cancer cells left behind, then the radiation will work to prevent the cancer from returning, and then the final chemo will aim to make sure the cancer is dead and gone.
Chemo will start in a week or two, in Whitehorse. I will have 3-4 hours of chemo in an IV in my arm, with three weeks to recover before the next round. I’ll be given a truck load of pills and steroids to prevent side effects. I felt really supported, and was given a list of phone numbers and resources to help at every step. Their team is ready to help with any side effect, and to support any need or concern I have. I found them all up beat, caring, kind, and friendly.
For the radiation treatment, I will need to be in Vancouver for 6 weeks. 😬 Six weeks! The first will be the prep work. They will use a cat scan to determine the exact places I’ll be targeted, and will tattoo the three spots. The goal is to give radiation to places in my pelvis where the cancer is most likely to return, while at the same time, avoiding directly targeting things like my bladder or bowels to avoid side effects and damage. Then I’ll have daily radiation, 5 days a week, off on weekends, for 5 weeks. The actual radiation session sounds like it is just a few minutes every day but I should expect to be there for an hour.
Then I’ll return home and resume chemo, doing another 3 treatments in 9 weeks. So we’re looking at this:
- 9 weeks chemo
- 6 weeks radiation
- 9 weeks chemo
= 24 weeks
I’m feeling much better, somehow, knowing this plan. They had a way of even mentioning terrible possible side effects in a way that didn’t make me freak out.
We spent the afternoon with my friend Colette in Vancouver, who has offered me a place to stay during the radiation. She is in North Vancouver, which is a bit of a distance from the BC Cancer building, but there is a Freemasons cancer ride service that will apparently pick me up, and drive me back, every day, to every appointment!?! WOW!
Last night we travelled back to Whitehorse, crashed for a few hours in a hotel, and then caught the 6am flight home to Dawson this morning (followed by hours of me napping!).
Jeff will be busy this weekend shuttling people in a boat to and from the Moosehide Gathering down river. I’ll be following along with my sister’s wedding from afar. Happy Wedding Julie and Wole!