Remission: What Does This Mean?

“I don’t think we’ll step lightly into the new year ever again. But perhaps that is a better way to begin: remembering the staggering heights and the terrifying depths, with our eyes fixed on One Who never leaves us and is always good.” (~Christie Purifoy)

December held the quiet of the holiday season, basking in time together, quiet days, movies, hot chocolate and popcorn, a visit from my in-laws and then the season of giving. We enjoyed a Christmas Eve service with dear friends, Christmas day with my family and then piled into our RV for a week trip to Disney, our gift to our children this year. (More on that in a future post.) It was a much harder trip on me than I anticipated, even with a couple weeks off chemo so I would be stronger for it, but I relished the joy of watching my loves soak it all in. We returned home to cold and seeping into my bones along with that cold was the struggle of our reality. We faced an immediate PET scan to see what is happening with my cancer, then chemo began again after a five week break!

Y’all, my oncologist is pretty amazing. She called the night of the PET scan so I wouldn’t have to wait to let us know the good news. The PET shows no surprises. The cancer is staying suppressed.

I visited her two days later and discussed what exactly this means. What do I call it? What about treatment? Where do we go from here? Any changes?

She confirmed that I am considered in remission.

But what does this mean?

Well, I just so happen to have some bullet points to help. (Pardon the disjointed nature of this post. I am battling a raging headache today and thinking straight isn’t really happening.)

–Remission. This does not mean the cancer is gone. This means the cancer is quiet or dormant in my body right now. I will never be considered “cured” of cancer.

–Chemo. I will stay on chemo indefinitely (read that to say: for the rest of my life unless we choose to go off of it). This keeps the cancer quiet for now.

–Oral chemo. I take my chemo orally for 11 days, then I have 10 days off. I cry every. single. time. I have to start chemo again, because I know what this means for the next couple weeks.

–Roller coaster. The first few days of chemo are fairly “normal” (whatever that means), then I begin a downward spiral. By day eight, I am spending most of my days curled up with no energy, nausea, aches and pains. This lasts about five days, then the upward climb slowly begins back to “normalcy.” Then I have about a week where I feel fairly well.

–Normalcy. There really is no “normal” for us during the weeks off chemo. One day might be good and the next bad, or I might have several good days in a row. We plan for life around my chemo schedule; however, as I’ve said before, “our no is no and our yes is maybe.” Some days it’s all I can do to pick Ash up from track practice and find myself canceling plans with friends, other days I might be busy running errands and having coffee with a friend. I’m still learning what it looks like to conserve my energy for my family and our evenings together.

–Side effects. As mentioned before, fatigue, nausea, aches and pains are part of the side effects, so is depression, peeling hands and feet, chronic dry eyes, and insomnia. I am also suffering from chronic headaches (and finally able to return to therapy for those now that the new year has turned) and they sometimes turn into full blown migraines.

–Life. We work hard to make life as “normal” as possible. I try to be involved in the children’s school and their field trips. I run children to practices and games as needed. I spend many quiet days at home, curled up with our pup and books and my journal, a few loads of laundry, and small projects. We go to church and get together with friends (and I’m so thankful for friends who let me sleep on their couches!). We go camping and take trips (our RV is such gift to create home away from home for us). We just “live” as we are able. Sometimes this means Bri and the kids are going places without me, and I’m learning to accept that this is okay.

There is so much thankfulness and relief that chemo is working, that the diet changes I have made are helping, that the cancer is in remission. So. much. relief. Y’all, I can’t begin to even explain it. Brian once described our life to someone that it’s like living life with “an axe over our heads.” We never know when things will change, and life is still hard even when the good news comes, but the good news helps lighten the load.

We are choosing to look at life through the lens of faith and gratitude. We live the staggering heights and the terrifying depths. We see the axe, and it’s scary to see, but we also see, as a friend reminded me, “the hand that’s holding it, safely away until it’s time. His time. He won’t let it fall early.”

Thank y’all, always, for your care, your concern, your prayers.

3 responses to “Remission: What Does This Mean?”

  1. As always, many prayers and HUGE northern hugs!!!

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  2. My dear Angel I pray for you every night that God lays a healing hand on you My son has cancer and your story is just like what my son is he also takes chemo oral tired after and sick for a week or so still takes the children to scouts youth groups at church But I pray every night for God to lay a healing hand on both of you My God wrap his healing arms around you and your family as well as mind .WE love you all Carol Allen

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  3. Betty Anne Schlegel Avatar
    Betty Anne Schlegel

    We are glad to hear your latest report and pray for God to continue to give you health and strength for the race. You and your family are a beautiful witnesses to his love and grace. We love you. With love, “Aunt BA” and family

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