Post Chemo follow-up and soon back to work!

Hi everyone, I have written this post in my head a hundred times but finally I'm forcing myself to sit down and type it out.  I have to say, those last two chemo treatments (number 7 and 8) beat the heck out of me!   I just had no energy to do anything.  It was a massive mental battle even to get myself out for a little walk.    However, I experienced what I like to call a "Christmas Miracle" while home for the holidays.  Suddenly my appetite returned, I had more energy and my hair actually started to grow in!  Thanks to all the eating I did, when we got home again I decided it was time to work on my fitness.   I started snowshoeing again (but it was very slow and I had to stop to catch my breath about every five minutes).  Then I decided to get back on my cross country skiis.  I had planned to just to a half an hour on an easy trail but had only gone about 50 m when I flipped onto my back.   Now I have been skiing for over 25 years and I have had lots of fall but nothing like that!    I hobbled back to the car, drove home and stayed in my bed the rest of the day.   I couldn't stand up straight!   A few days later I went for an xray and a CAT scan and it turns out I have a compression fracture in one of my vertebrae.   It's healing slowly and I can manage short walks again but what a set back!  It was feeling like my old life again for a while!    

So...onto my oncologist appointment.  It was a "meh" appointment.  I could have actually just spoken to him on the phone for all the good it did.  I already knew my lymph nodes were back to normal size.   I already knew what to expect from the maintenance infusions thanks to the nurses at the chemo centre here in town.   There was no great exclamation of "you're cured forever" so I left feeling like it was a complete waste of my time and it was just a reminder that I will never be "cured".   I was enjoying not being at the hospital with all the hospital smells.  I was really down for a few days afterwards and just couldn't get myself to do anything except read or watch Netflix.   Anyway..... I'm getting out of that funk slowly and I have getting my butt outside for a little to enjoy the sun, fresh air and snow.  I can manage about 15 minutes before my back muscle have had it.

I start work on Friday and I've spent hours putting my course online (I teach science at a highschool).  I'm looking forward to going back to work but also dreading it.   I just hate the thought that attention will be on me.  If I could just slip into my classroom and resume my life I would be totally happy.   I'm dreading that at our staff meeting on Friday morning the principal is going to say "welcome back April" and people will clap.  I've been visualizing how I will serenely just smile and say thank you.  I dread going into our science office and having people hug me (even though the people have been wonderfully supportive).  Are these weird feelings common or is it just me?    I've had a lump in my throat all week like I'm on the verge of crying but I don't know what I'm going to be crying about and it won't come out.  

Anyway, that's enough blethering on and this time next week I will be over my fears and back into the swing of things.   I hope everyone having a good start to 2017!  I'm determined that this will be a good year! 

Thomas threw a punch at your cancer.
Pen sent you a prayer.
7 people sent you a hug.
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Hi! Good to hear from you. Will respond properly later, gotta shower up; snowing like the dickens here and our cupboards are bare! Have to go to Target. More later. Love.
April likes this comment
April- first of all- congratulations! You made it thru the last 2 chemos- and yes, those drain every drop of energy out of your body- BUT- isn't it great when you get your energy back and see hair sprouting again? Isn't it great when you can start tasting food again? Isn't it great when neuropathy diminishes? PTL. The poison that cures! If I may offer a suggestion: I would sneak into school late Thursday and get your 'hello's with your teachers out of your system before facing the students on Friday. Accept the embraces (as long as it isn't so hard that it hurts your port) and it's okay to cry a tear of joy getting back into the mainstream again - there is no right or wrong way to feel- whatever you feel at the moment is just fine- don't beat yourself-up about it. May God guide you as you return to school at the end of the week- and you have the weekend to rest-up too. You're doing well April.
April, Thomas like this comment
I think that's exactly what I will do...I'm going to go tomorrow and face my fears while it's quiet. I agree it's so nice to be "back to normal". I love that you wrote that there is no right or wrong way to feel. That is quite comforting. I'll keep that in mind as my emotions swing from day to day. Thank you!
John likes this comment
Man, you just sent me back to my memories of ending treatment, resuming activities and returning to work! I think all your physical and emotional feelings are on target for this stage in your recovery. You may need a nap at lunch or a shortened workday at first. But kudos for getting out there! Physical activity will reduce that "new normal" transition depression and the malaise that comes after treatment. Once you aren't actively fighting, you may very well fall into a deeper depression so stay busy, surround yourself with friends and hobbies and be active in your spiritual community, whether that means church, yoga, or meditating or even just journaling and practicing gratitude! That after cancer depression probably surprised me the most. People expect you to be happy after the fight but you actually start wondering "what is next for me?" Finding a focus is very important so I am glad you love your work as that will be a good outlet. Ease in if you can! And your coworkers will be WEIRD! Some will be maternal, some will avoid you, some will be awkward or even angry. Be patient with them and maybe even talk to them first as John mentioned. They are nervous too! I wish you the absolutely best! I am sorry you can't get the all clear at a stage 4 but it is amazing that your cancer is stable and holding! Congrats on returning to what will be a wonderful life!
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Thanks for the warning me about the post-treatment depression. It makes sense with my lack of get up and go that I was really hoping to have. I will definitely take your advice and stay busy.... well not as busy as before this whole things started but at least involved with other people. Thanks also for letting me know what to expect from co-workers. I am one of those people who is uncomfortable and weird during these kinds of situations and I always wish I had the grace that some people have. Hopefully I'll develop it over the next few weeks. Thank you for your advice!
John likes this comment
I think the lump in throat feeling is normal. Anticipation is he worse feeling sometimes. You'll be ok, even after the first day back. Are you going back full time, or half days for the first week to get your feet wet? If full time, you may be exhausted by days' do "take-out" for supper. Fire up the yelp app, lol. Even almost 5 years later, I still have emotions all over the map some days. It will work out. God bless your return to work April, and your wellness.
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Luckily, a quite few years ago when my boys were young I retired part of my job and I work 2/3 time. That's what I will be returning to so I think I will be good. I've already warned my family that I plan on napping in the afternoon if I need to. They are so used to me laying around now that they probably won't even notice! Thanks for the support. It really makes a huge difference!
John, Marcia like this comment
YES, we all have those apprehensions in some form. Keep focused that they are happy to see you...and just tell 'em you are dancing with NED - "No Evidencce of Disease" forever! (Cures are for hams...)

One Day At A Time to have a Very Good Year!!!
April likes this comment
Wow ... your post brought back a lot of poignant memories to me. I remember my 2nd anoscopy and my doc never said the words "cancer free" ... later I talked to my rad onc doc to go over the results, I was struggling to express why I wasn't happy with those results, when he finally said "you are looking for someone to tell you that you are cancer free" (see, there is a good reason that I love him). I think we have an emotional need to hear those words and docs like to hedge their bets and not say them ... UGH
As far as returning to work ... get that too. I was so guarded with my diagnosis that many people didn't know and it was hard to just slip back in. Think you could go "visit" and see a few people before hand so that you aren't so overwhelmed on your first day back?
You can do this .... you have fought the beast and come out the other side ... compared to that, this will be easy 😎
April likes this comment
Hi April, I am glad you are going back to work and all the treatments are done. I was thinking of you since we had the same type of chemo but I had only 5 rounds compared to 8 of yours. I also went to work all the time full time the only days I missed were the days with the chemo so practically I missed only 5 days. I wanted to keep as busy as possible and I have an office job so sitting on the chair was not that bad. I told my colleagues about my cancer and they were very supportive. I also wore a wig so they got used to the new me. It was funny when I left the wig and my natural hair started to grow. I did not color it anymore so now it is completely gray but I think they got used to it. People will ask you how you are feeling all the time, they want you to feel good and a lot of them are thinking that we are cured and perfect we had a little bumpy treatment but now all is good. Some people do not say anything they avoid questions and feel embarrassed. At least that was my experience. I wish you a perfect return to the school and keep busy as much as you can. Good luck! Dana
April likes this comment
I had to laugh a bit about your natural hair. I was checking mine out the other day and I was thinking that I didn't actually look too back with the silvery/brown thing happening. Then I realized I was almost as grey as my husband. However, there is no way I am letting anyone see my hair until it's longer than my husband's or else we are going to look like twins... I'm almost as grey as him and we have the same eye colour.
Hope Friday is a good day for you at school April - your BFAC team is thinking about you- just go with the flow, come home with the kids and crash-out for a nap. Happy Friday to you.
April likes this comment
All went well. You're advice about going in ahead of time was perfect. I got over my fear of walking in the building and was able to say hello to quite a few people which really calmed me down. It was FAR worse in my mind than it was in real life. That always seems to happen.
John likes this comment
Good to hear you have your energy back!
The fuziness on my face diasappeared a few months post chemo. Hair growths back slowly. Still, these are the least of our worries... I am on a two month schedule for maintenance therapy. A breeze, compared to Chemo. Hope it will keep the lymphoma under control. I count myself lucky in having little side effects. Like you, I have plenty of energy which I put to use by trying to take care of myself. I find I have less interest in those work related issues that would keep me busy in the past: they seem less significant these days. As the saying goes: life is too short, we may as well enjoy it. Happy spring!
April likes this comment
Good to hear about the face actually makes me laugh because I'm not a hairy person. It's now back to winter here so I've resorted to looking through gardening magazines. you's to short so I'm going to enjoy some extra days of snowshoeing.
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Vital Info


May 24, 2016

Ontario, Canada

Cancer Info

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Indolent B-Cell Follicular Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

Stage 4



Take care of your health and the health of your family.

Swollen lymph node on jaw in front of ear and swollen lymph nodes on neck

May 26, 2016....itchy ears, eyes and throat. Quickly controlled by intravenous Benadryl.


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