The Best Kind Of News

I last left you guys with news that I am cancer-free. Probably the best news a person who previously had cancer could ever get. However, I was still uneasy as I had yet to meet with my radiologist and hear if she wanted to continue treatment with several weeks of radiation. It would involve me going to the hospital 5 days a week and getting zapped in the chest. Apart from being inconvenient, radiation also carries a high risk of causing a secondary cancers down the road. For some people the side effects can also be worse than chemo.

Well the good news just keeps on coming, because the radiologist said she did not want to do radiation!! She said even though I have a residual mass in my chest, there is no sense in radiating it because they know from the PET scan it is not active cancer. Thank goodness for PET scans! She also expressed concern about the radiation field, which would have to go through both breast and lung tissue, putting me and a very high risk for breast cancer and more lung issues in the future.

The radiologist printed out a copy of my PET scans to compare “before and after.” The images are of my chest with my arms above my head. Top was done on June 30, 2011 before my diagnosis, and the bottom image is from last week, January 30, 2012.

On first glance, there’s a clear difference between the two! On the computer, PET scans are in colour and show a better distinction between tumours and organs. You can kind of see on the top image where the radiologist circled to show me where the original mass was. The lighter bits inside of it are the parts that “light up” as being actively cancerous. The other white bits are just bone. It’s a 2D snapshot of a 3D image.

Below is another angle, showing a snapshot as if you were looking through my torso from my feet. Again, consider it a 2D slide in a 3D image.

You can see in the bottom image where the radiologist circled as being the residual mass, which is 2cm. That’s down from a 14cm mass! She said I shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about the residual mass becoming cancer again, and that it will take my body a couple years to absorb the dead cells it’s made up of.

I’m going in for another PET scan in about 3-4 months just to make sure there’s no new growth since ending treatment. After my radiology appointment, my mom and I immediately went to extramural to get my PICC line taken out!

I had this purple tube inside my arm for over four months. It’s inserted into a vein in my arm and goes all the way to my heart. It protected my veins while getting harsh chemo treatments through IV and also made it so I had less needles for my weekly blood draws. However, it also had to be cleaned every week, taped to my arm 24/7, and I could never get it wet. The PICC was a constant reminder that I was a sick person with ties to the hospital. Getting it taken out was like being unchained from cancer!

Getting the PICC inserted was the most traumatic experience, apart from my bone marrow biopsy. It took 90 minutes to shove in, and under 30 seconds to pull out. Go figure.

By chance, a few of my friends planned a get together for Friday night so we turned into a cancer-free/end-of-treatment celebration. They made me cupcakes!

Tiffany is a genius.

 And bought me beer!

As promised, I indulged in many drinks, went out to a bar, and stumbled home close to 3am.

It is SO incredibly weird to think that I am completely finished with treatment. I still feel the effects of chemo every day. I sleep a good 9-10 hours every night and my brain is still pretty foggy. I still wear a wig as my hair is only half an inch long.

You could probably tell from my last post that I was having a hard time grasping with the idea that I am cancer-free. I think that’s because I was still struggling with knowing I even have cancer in the first place. But treatment? That affects me immediately in a very real and tangible way. Finding out that I’m finished was the best moment of my life. I am tearing up now just thinking that I can start to put some space between me and this cancer debacle.

As for the for the immediate future, I am going back to work in two weeks. My bosses and coworkers have been amazing throughout all of this and my desk is still there waiting for me. I’m definitely nervous about getting tired being in the office for eight hours (and being there for 8am!). But, I’m lucky it’s a pretty non-physical, non-stressful job. I’m confident that even if it’s rough in the beginning, I’ll get the hang of it quickly.

I also have long-term plans of leaving the nest and getting a place of my own. I have had to give up A LOT of independence while getting treated for cancer, and I am really looking forward to getting some of it back.

Again, thank you so much for the continued support from each and every one of you throughout this entire experience. Being able to connect with people through my blog kept me from feeling isolated when I was too sick to leave bed. You were all a constant source of strength and hope. It takes a village to raise a child, and apparently it takes an army of friends via the internet to get rid of cancer!

Posted on February 6, 2012, in Cancer. Bookmark the permalink. 73 Comments.

  1. This is such great news! Congratulations – I’m so happy for you!!! :)

  2. Susan! This is amazing news! I am so hapy for you and your good news!

  3. Geoff would be proud of your beer choices :)

  4. Love hearing the happiness in your voice in this post! Looking forward to watching you soar from this new mountain top! (that sounds cheesy but it seems appropriate) :-)

  5. Susan – my heart is full of joy for you! So, so happy to hear this news!

  6. Going back to work has never sounded so good!! I’m still amazed at this whole thing – makes me smile!

  7. :) best post ever…such wonderful news!!

  8. Wonderful news! I’m so happy for you!!!!!!

  9. What wonderful news!!!!! I am so happy for you. <3

  10. Wow. God is SO GOOD. This is amazing to read. I can’t say enough how incredibly strong you’ve been throughout this experience, I am constantly amazed by you. I LOVE how you celebrating being cancer-free this weekend. GO YOU!!! (PS my gramp used to eat his cupcakes that way too, so every bite had a big chunk of frosting in it. YUM!)

  11. So thrilled for you – wear your good health in, well, good health!

  12. This is such great news Susan. I couldn’t be happier for you!

  13. Eeeeeee YAAAAAY!!! That is all.

    Oh, and that cupcake trick? Genius!

  14. How TOTALLY FANTASTIC!! You mustn’t abandon us! We still want to keep up with you and know how you’re doing! But, of course, we fully expect you to have less time, since you’ll be working and partying and doing all those fantastic things that folks your age SHOULD be doing. Billions and Billions of hugs! [And that’s US ‘billions’, by the way! ;-)]

  15. Yay! How awesome! Good luck with everything that is coming up! Very exciting!

  16. I cannot possibly imagine how you must feel. Sooooooo many emotions to sort through over the next while. I imagine the haze will start to clear little by little in slow amount to let you process it all. I’m sooooooooooooooooooooooo thankful for your wonderful news. Knowing someone who is moving on cancer free is an amazing feeling too ;-)

  17. This is all makes me so happy, girl, I can’t even express it, I’m so bummed I can’t go to the BLEND retreat because I want some in-person Susan time! (but the funds are just not there)

  18. So amazing! Suck it, cancer!

  19. Wow, congratulations Susan on your clean bill of health!!!
    That is amazing ,inspiring and joyous news indeed.
    It must be all slightly unreal for you.
    So glad you always knew hundreds of folks out here were thinking positive thoughts
    and wishes for you.We really were (are)!
    Wishing you some ease into adjusting to your new reality of good health and
    Do you feel like you have gained so much insight to appreciation for the simple things in life over your crazy crash course in it? What a year ,and what a recovery!
    Go Susan Go!
    (you really did make the Big C “F— Off” after all ! ) ;)
    One amazing thing for sure appeared in your life during your toughest times….

  20. I am so very happy for you! My brother just had his one year post stem cell transplant PET scan and it was clear. Good news all around!

  21. I’m so happy for you! Sounds like an awesome get together with your friends! :)

  22. Such wonderful news…I’m so happy for you!!!!!!!

  23. I am so happy that you have received good news! I’ve been following your blog and journey for a while and the stories and experiences you have shared are commendable. My sister is currently receiving chemotherapy for lymphoma and I sometimes tell her about things you wrote about on your experiences. It is wonderful that people like you share their thoughts and feelings about facing cancer, as you do not always realize how much it can help someone going through a similar experience. Thank you.

  24. so so happy….. now go get on with your awesome life !!!

  25. The news we have all been waiting for! Thats amazing! Congrats!

  26. Congratulations again, but more importantly I want to wish you luck and happiness as you enter this transition stage. I think it will be challenging as you mentioned, but to put things in perspective – you flippin’ kicked cancer’s ass!

  27. I am so excited for you and for your new cancer-free journey! Here’s to health, happiness and a long, prosperous life. Congratulations!

  28. That is the best news ever – heard you had a great interview on the radio this morning. Again looking forward to seeing you at Amherst Shore-singsongs, bonfires, maybe even beer and cupcakes. Cousin Dale and family

  29. Praise the Lord! Just the outcome we were all praying for. May the Lord continue to bless you abundantly as you move ahead on life’s journey. Just as you have inspired countless others as you experienced cancer diagnosis and treatment I know you will use the lessons you learned to continue to inspire and care for others who find themselves in the same circumstances. You are one tough and courageous young woman, with a gifted ability to share your insights through words. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

  30. That IS the best kind of news!!!!!

  31. hooooray!! i bet it does feel a bit strange, and it might take a while to actually feel that freedom, but we are here to help yo celebrate each and everyday of that.

    now pass me a beer and cupcake!

  32. What great news! You’ve gone through SO MUCH in the past year. I think you are so strong for keeping your head above water & posting as honestly as you have been. Even through the toughest times. I can’t imagine the strength it took.

    You’re an amazing person with an amazing story! Can’t wait to read about the next chapter in your life. :)

  33. I am crying the happiest tears. I love you and cannot wait to see you in May!

  34. I am so very happy for you, what great news! So glad you went out and celebrated!!! :)

  35. Wow, I am SO happy for you!! I just got chills all over reading this and have a huge grin on my face!!!!! Congratulations!!! (and love that you got your beer and partied it up a bit! that is so awesome!)

  36. I think you should have the PICC line bronzed … Or scrapbooked!

  37. I’m so happy for you!!!

  38. I’m so glad you got to enjoy a real night out with BEER with your friends! Sometimes it’s the simplest things in life, right? I hope your transition back to work is a smooth one!

  39. No radiation + PICC line removed + returning to work = FANTASTIC NEWS!!! I am so happy for you!! Welcome to your new normal. I’m sure you will be continually making mental adjustments as you step back into your life. So, so happy for you and this news!!!

  40. Fantastic! Here’s to normalcy, or a close approximation thereof.

  41. Reading this post made me fantastically happy for you. I am so glad you don’t have to go through any more treatment- and how awesome that your body will absorb the mass. Congratulations! Keep celebrating!

  42. So happy for you!
    I think my dad has another tumor growing so I need some good news to day to balance stuff out.

  43. i am so happy for you!

  44. Congratulations! I’m soooo glad.

  45. Oh Susan I squealed with delight when Janetha gave me the news today WAHOO!!! I got all goose bumpy and excited to know that our prayers have been answered yet again – we are a blessed bunch aren’t we!?!

    I’m thrilled beyond words and wish you just the best ever in years to come – I know you have learned a ton through this ordeal and will indeed be a stronger young woman than before if that is even possible!!

    Sending continued love, prayers and hugs your way :)


  46. I’m ecstatic for you Susan! That truly is the best news ever. I’m glad you celebrated!!

  47. This could EASILY be the BEST POST EVER!!!! On any blog in any universe! (ok…a bit dramatic…but still) SOOO happy for you Susan. I have only got to “know you” since the big fundraiser last year, but have been anxiously following your journey as if you were a friend who lived next door!!! May you continue to be healthy, and may this nasty chapter of your life be closed. You have inspired me with your courage, strength, humour and honesty and I look forward to reading more of your posts as you get on with the business of living!!! Hugs from Vancouver!

  48. This is definitely the best news ever! I am sooo so happy for you!!!! I’m so glad you got to celebrate and that you are starting back towards your “normal” (ish) life! Yayyy!

  49. So happy for you. Enjoy life as you once knew it. You are a rock star!!

  50. Congrats!!!! we are so happy for you! YAY!!!

  51. Susan, I am so happy for you. Although I am a very infrequent commentor on your wonderful blog I have been following your story. I work with breast cancer survivors and just reading about your journey and knowing that people can make it through, I said a daily prayer that you would triumph over the big C.
    Congratulations sweetie. Go out and rock this life. You are now certifiably fearless.

  52. Wonderful news! So happy for you!

  53. SO AMAZING!! I am so happy for you, Susan! You kicked cancer’s ass!! :) xoxo

  54. Susan, Hi, I am Imanokie’s mom and have been following you. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

    I gave your blog address to a friend whose daughter has just been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. This young lady is a senior in highschool. I hope they read these last 2 posts for encouragement.

  55. Congrats! What fantastic news! I just started following your story and I’m so glad to see you have a happy outcome. Let’s keep it going!

  56. You made it! Congratulations! And, to bid a freakin’ goodbye to the PICC line is a dream come true for you. This day has finally arrived. Get your rest and remember to use your healthy spoons wisely as you regain your energy and mental clarity.

  57. So so so happy for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  58. yayyyyy! what an amazing journey. so excited for you that its over ;) your story was inspiring and honest.

  59. The good news keeps on coming! Very happy and excited for you, and even more happy and excited that you got to celebrate appropriately :)

  60. That is such great news. Looking foward to reading about more of your adventures in your cancer-free world!!

  61. I’m just so happy for you. All around.. this has been a great week of good news.
    I didn’t comment on your blog much but i read every post, & I’m just glad that your cancer free & my friend had her second baby after previously losing her first. Such great news!

  62. Hip hip hooray for being cancer-free, eating green & yellow cupcake sandwiches and stumbling home from a night out! Love you my friend.

  63. good for you! i am so glad you celebrated with a night on the town…just be ready to do that over again in Colorado in May :)

  64. happy for you!

    do u plan to stay in moncton? what kind of job do you have? is it what you enjoy or anything? (i’m currently in career crisis!).

    so happy for u!

  65. this still makes me so happy. WAY TO KICK CANCER IN THE BUTT.

  66. Hi susan, I was just talking to Matthew, and he said I need to check out your blog. I often think of you, but forget about your blog. I am sooo happy to hear that you are cancer free, and that you don’t have to do radiation now. I had mine in Nov in Saint John and the burning and rash that I got was worse than the surgery or any of the chemo treatments. All is cleared up now, but for a few weeks it was painful. I still get my herceptin every 3 weeks with one scheduled this Wed. I will be getting it until the end of June. I saw the surgeon 2 weeks ago and she is happy with the healing from the radiation. I have a mammogram set for May and she will see me again after that. I see you had a nice celebration with cupcakes and beer. Nice combo!!! Cheers to you and being healthy again!!! XOXO

  67. such an awesome story! i know i’m new to your blog, but i’m really happy for you!

  68. Susan, I’m so happy to hear that you are cancer-free. I got so emotional reading this post!! I can only imagine how YOU are feeling right now. Best of luck with adjusting to going back to work. I’m sure it will be tiring for a while, but the new routine will be appreciated. xoxo

  69. Amazing news! Congrats girl and celebrate!

  70. I have been a (constant) lurker through out your ordeal, and I’m so happy for you! Somewhere down the road you have to write a book, you will inspire many people and also share all your delicious humor!!

  71. What wonderful news!!! You’re right that it takes an army of friends via the Internet to get rid of cancer! I love the celebration that you had with your friends and hope that you’re slowly, but surely, getting back into a routine. May you never have to go through any of these things again! xoxo

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