(ENNIS, Mt.) – Many of our readers know me through my writing here at Salem-News.com about my plight, challenges and struggles with Agent Orange exposure. I unknowingly received extensive exposure during Christmas 1970 in Vietnam during a USO Tour.
I value the support I have received from many of our readers. I appreciate the comments— some favorable, some not. No matter what your personal opinion, continuing a dialog on this highly emotional and difficult political topic is moving in a positive direction.
Keeping Agent Orange in the bright light of the American public is invaluable to those of us who are touched by its ravages.
However, for me, life continues to be interesting and filled with surprises — both kind and unkind. I wasn’t really looking for more company, but, a third cancer has joined my life. I have a new companion traveling along with me and becoming a new partner in my everyday living On August 18, 2011 I got the word that my T-Cell leukemia has now progressed to an “evolving lymphoma.” My rare blood cancer has now infiltrated an organ in my body. The largest organ the human body has — the skin.
A lesion that had developed was excised by my doctor’s expert steady hand, removed, and placed in a friendly looking bottle of preservatives. Then it was sent to one of the foremost T-Cell specialists in the country to conduct a biopsy. Many tests were done to finalize the diagnosis, staging the cancer, and specific type of lymphoma.
The next step was to undergo another mass spectrometer blood test to count the leukemia cells in my blood and to determine the concentration of those cells. This test takes time — as each invading cell is counted and totaled to see if “they win or I win.”
This high tech and amazing look inside my blood cells would give us the needed information to give a thumb up or down to immediately starting chemotherapy treatment for this new phase of my cancer.
The waiting was unimaginable. Every day dragged on. As always, I got the loving support from Arnie, my beloved husband. He is always there with a knowing look or reassuring wisp of a touch. Ours is a commitment for a lifetime. No matter what that may bring. We will joyously celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary in October.
When I told a cherished friend of mine of the potential for my undergoing chemo, he said, “You know, I’ve a mind to shave my head.” Truly understated loyalty.
My best friend for a lifetime, Frances, and I laughed about the perfect twist of a headscarf, bright colored bandanas, and my going au natural as I did for my first chemo so many years ago. I even bought the greatest cowboy hat “just in case” while in Montana.
As we laughed and carried on like two 8th graders, the silly moments would pass and our eyes would cloud over with the darkness of what may be coming. Then, not holding on to or allowing the moment more than a minute, we would laugh at something else and go on with our day.
Those are the heartfelt moments of peace, the comfort of love, and the security of a good friendship solidly in place. After seven week of waiting, chemo decision day finally came. Dr. Sheldon J. Davidson, my trusted oncologist and friend of 21 years called. We held our collective breaths. Good News. No treatment. I wouldn’t have to begin chemo! Not yet.
We would be on the “wait and watch” track again. No intervention or invasive treatment would be done for another 6 months.
For now, only follow up blood tests, I have to work on putting back the weight I have lost, keeping myself well, and infection-free. These are my tasks.
Another 6 months of waiting???? The “wait and watch” mode has its very stressful moments. It’s always in the back of my mind. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
But, then I would be wasting those 182 glorious days I could be wearing that great cowboy hat!!!
Article originally Published at Salem-News.com