This is a weekend of milestones. Today, Sunday may 18th marks six months since I had surgery. On that date, my surgeon removed half of my pancreas, my spleen and a bunch of lymph nodes.
This photo was taken November 22 while I was still in the hospital.
Here is how my stomach looks six months later.
I am pretty pleased with how it has turned out so far. I am not nor have I ever been ashamed of my scar. It will always serve as a reminder of how far I have come through this process.
Tomorrow will be my 15th chemo session. I then will take a week off and have one cycle left. Four treatments over the next five Mondays. June 16th is set to be my last day of chemo. These last four treatments will not be fun, but I can see the finish line off in the distance.
The cumulative effects of treatment seem to be catching up to me. I feel more tired and nauseous than I did early on. I had treatment on Monday of this past week. It had snowed Sunday night and into Monday. My husband and I did our traditional pre chemo run, but because our school district was on a two hour delay, we had to cut it to 9 miles instead of 10. Colorado in May:
Tuesday morning, I went for a run after a meeting. I was tired and it was walk/run. I went by myself, which allowed me to just go at my own easy pace and not worry about holding other people back. I thought maybe this would be an easier week physically because I did not feel too badly on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, however, my body decided to fight back a bit. I had met Tracey and her dog Arlo for a run. It’s a good thing Tracey is not squeamish because part way through our run, I started dry heaving. Every mile or so, I would have to stop, try to throw up, and then we would continue on our way. Puking while running is not the norm for me. Even during the Vermont 100, I never got sick. I always thought I had an iron stomach but apparently I do not right now. Hopefully that will change after June!
I continued to get sick Wednesday afternoon and evening. I went to bed hoping to start fresh on Thursday, but I woke up at 2 am with muscles aches. I never got back to sleep again that night. Thursday morning, I ran with my husband and my friend Debby. I was in a fog the whole time and when we finished, a lot of the run seemed hazy.
On Friday, I met up with Vanessa and her husband Andy for an 8 mile run. I have run with Vanessa before but this was my first time meeting Andy. I really enjoy meeting runner couples, and I appreciate that they included me on their running date.
Yesterday Stephen and I went for a walk/run around the Garden of the Gods. I had planned about an 8 mile run, but I just bonked and ended up hiking quite a bit. It was a beautiful morning, though, and if you are going to be slow, it might as well be in a spectacular location.
Through all of the week’s ups and downs, life has gone on. I had to rush my dog to the veterinarian on Tuesday. She is ok but gave me another scare.
On Friday, my youngest went off for a weekend of camping with the Girl Scouts. My oldest went to a formal with her boyfriend.
I am signed up for a walk/run to raise money for pancreatic cancer (Pancreatic action network purple stride). This takes place the weekend after I finish chemo. A high school friend, named Kerry, teaches second grade in Texas. On Saturday, I got a donation along with this sweet letter. It says, in part, “We decided to donate our money this week to you, instead of buying snacks at school. It’s not much but we hope it helps.” Don’t ever doubt the heart of the upcoming generation. There are so many kind and compassionate young people out there.
Today, my husband and I will run. Tomorrow I will complete cycle 5. Just like in any long race, marking off milestones, is important mentally. It helps me to focus on how far I have come and how much closer I am to finishing. If you think about running 100 miles in one big chunk, that seems really overwhelming. If you break it down, aid station to aid station, that helps make it seem more manageable. When I started this process back in September with various tests, and then surgery and them chemotherapy, it seems like a ridiculously long process. I have been marking off time by counting down treatments and cycles, and that has made a huge difference in my outlook. What once seemed so far away is now coming close. Only a few more miles to go, and I will be done.