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Happy New Year?

December 31, 2012

Around this time last year, I changed my gchat status to “2011 kind of sucked.” It was somewhat tongue-in-cheek – while true, I was still celebrating the news of my remission, and already feeling very positive about the new year. Although 2011 had brought me stage III colon cancer, the surgery, recovery, and chemotherapy hadn’t been too bad – and all of that was now behind me.

As it turned out, however, the “new year” – 2012 – more than kind of sucked. It started out well enough, and a clear scan in February reinforced my hope that my cancer had been a one-off thing, easily conquered. I had a colonoscopy in March that found one benign polyp – but I already knew that was there, from the previous scope. And this time they zapped it, to keep that polyp from turning on me in the future.

And then May brought the news of my recurrence. In June, I went back under the knife; pathology confirmed metastasis, and even offered me a new primary cancer with a mention of adenocarcinoma of the appendix, which would later disqualify me for a clinical trial. With July came a return to chemo, which continued through August. After an allergic reaction, I started a new drug in early September – and ended up in the emergency room later that night. After several hours there, I was admitted to the hospital, where I spent the next two and a half days. When I was finally discharged, I went home and broke my foot (but refused to see the inside of a hospital again that day, so waited until the next morning to get an x-ray).

With October came more surgery – the Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) procedure, or, as I prefer, shake-and-bake. This meant my longest scar yet, as the first step was to make a large incision, open me wide, and remove all visible tumors. The shaking and baking took place in the second part, when my abdominal cavity was filled with heated chemotherapy which was then sloshed around for 90 minutes. (You can see an animation of the procedure here.)

I did not bounce back from this one as fast/easily as I had from my previous two surgeries, so recovery was the focus of November, and then December as well.

It wasn’t, of course, all bad. I traveled a little, saw a lot of my family, and made some great new friends. Still, I’m hoping for a better 2013. I am not naïve – I know that cancer will now always be a part of my life, and that 2013 will be my first full year of treatment. But I can hope that cancer plays less of a leading role in the new year.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2012 12:07 pm

    Sounds like a challenging year. I hope 2013 bring you more time with your friends, more adventures, and MANY moments of feeling very good. ~Catherine

  2. Greg Feltes permalink
    January 4, 2013 6:58 pm

    Hello Rachel,

    My name is Greg Feltes and I’m a Casting Associate at Firecracker
    Films in Santa Monica, CA. We are currently producing a new
    documentary series for a major cable network about people with serious
    illnesses who want to meet or face people from their past or in their
    lives they may have unresolved issues with. I found you via twitter
    and your blog because I was impressed by your strength and wit.

    Obviously, this is a very sensitive subject matter, but the goal of
    producers is to bring attention and understanding to what a number of
    people in America are struggling to cope with everyday, while also
    providing a unique forum and support for those facing such challenges.
    There will be compensation for those stories that are selected to be
    filmed for the pilot.

    I would love to talk to you about the show, but don’t want expend more
    of your time unless you are interested. Please message me back if
    you’d be interested in hearing more.

    Best,
    Greg Feltes
    Casting Associate
    Firecracker Films
    Santa Monica, CA
    310.309.3947

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