1-year anniversary of diagnosis

This week week has been the 1-year anniversary of the cancer diagnosis and softball-sized tumor removal, so I thought it would be a good time for an update.

(If you didn’t get to read my super long update in September, I’ll include a summary of that as well.)

In September, my last (12th) round of chemo was put on hold so I could have the ostomy reversal / pelvic reconstruction surgery. We needed to coordinate a few different surgeons, and the date they had available required a pause in my treatments.

My doctor planned to give me that 12th round after I recovered from the surgery. He also thought it would be best for me to continue indefinitely with maintenance chemo, because of a remaining (inoperable) cancerous node, and because of the concern that there may be other undetected cancer elsewhere. (On the scan before surgery the node was still there, but it looked calcified.)

After my surgery I overheard the nurse giving a report to the next shift. She mentioned “nodal removal”. I interrupted her, “Wait, what? They removed the node?? They said it was inoperable!” She panicked because she didn’t know I didn’t already know. “Uh – talk to your doctor!” and she scurried away. 😅
With the last of the known cancer now gone, and all my other levels looking good, we opted for a period of observation instead of maintenance chemo. According to the medical journals, both were appropriate options. I felt like I needed a chance to gain my strength back.

In December it was time for bloodwork and scans again. PET scans are harder to get approved by insurance, especially with no other evidence of disease. So we opted for a CT scan to get it approved quickly enough to be covered on our 2023 insurance. I also had CEA and ctDNA tests.

The CT scan said a lot of things that I didn’t understand. I was more accustomed to reading PET scans, so I was a little nervous waiting for the doctor’s explanation. His summary: “no convincing evidence of cancer”.

The CEA test came back just one point higher than the previous, but still within normal range.

The ctDNA test – used as an early indicator to predict spreading – took the longest, finally arriving Jan 10th, still reporting negative as well.

My hair has been filling in, and we’re back to living life normally. Our crazy pace is back, but I have a new appreciation for my ability to participate in it. It’s been difficult to comprehend everything that happened last year. I’m just so grateful for all the love and support we received to help us through it.

Also – thanks for all the birthday wishes – It was nice not being in the hospital for it this year!

Here’s the long version if you missed it and want to take that ride:
Part 1:

Round 11 – Just me Geeking Out (too much)

Part 2:

Post Surgery

Leslie Householder

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