Little victories

The past couple days have brought good news for my and my husband’s health.

The day before yesterday gave us the results of his first CT scan since starting chemo and it sort of gives us a baseline. Basically, the chemo is working because it’s shrinking the tumors. The radiology report said there were “innumerable extranodal tumors,” which is of course not good. But we already knew they were there. There are so many tiny tumors around his colon area that they were described as “innumerable.” That’s what they couldn’t get out during the surgery and what they’re hoping chemo will eliminate. Because he’s considered stage four, they won’t be doing more surgeries or radiation, which is a little scary in itself.

We also got the results of the CT scan of his sinuses to see if a nasal polyp is cancerous. And it most likely is not, though they won’t know for sure until they biopsy it after removing it.

That was the part I was most freaked out by, fearing that it would be a metastasis of the cancer to another part of his body. Luckily, I did a deep dive into medical journals the night before he got the results and found that fewer than 200 people worldwide have ever had colon cancer metastasize to the sinuses, so that at least allowed me to sleep the night before the results.

Man, I’ve just been living with so much anxiety over those scan results! And it’s good news that the chemo is shrinking the tumors significantly and his nasal polyp doesn’t look cancerous on the CT scan.

Right after I went to hear his scan results, I had an appointment with my neurologist. He said that I appeared stronger (particularly in my legs) and my balance was better, so I didn’t need physical therapy after all. Plus he prescribed me something for my cognitive issues that I hope will help me focus better.

Then yesterday, I got the results from my cardiac stress test. I was pretty nervous about that because my mom had her heart attack at only 8 years older than I am now. And the results came back that my heart function is normal and shows no signs of blockage. What a relief!

In the past couple weeks, I’ve now had two doctors congratulate me for my health, particularly in regard to managing my family risk factors. My gynecologist said I’m going through menopause at a more normal age than my mom did because I took better care of my health. And my cardiologist said I was doing well to modify my risk factors as well.

I’m still kinda surprised because I tend to think of myself as unhealthy because I’m overweight and have MS. But all my tests keep coming back good. My blood sugar is going down. My cholesterol is good too. I’m anemic and I’m not losing weight, but other than that I’m pretty healthy by all measurable results.

I can’t help but think that diet must play a big role in this. I texted my mom with the results from the cardiologist and told her I had stopped for lunch at McDonalds, something I hadn’t eaten in more than six months. (I was just craving those damn fries, and they weren’t even that good after all.)

She said that they’re trying to cut down on their fast food intake (which I know they do several times a week) and that my dad was mad at himself for eating so much junk food like chips and ice cream.

It was in that moment that I realized oh, I really am doing well and maybe that’s why I’m healthy. I get at least five servings of fruits and veggies every day. I don’t drink soda at all. I might have an alcoholic drink once or twice a month, or not at all. I tend to love potato chips (crisps for international readers) too much so I just don’t eat them anymore. I can’t remember the last time I had ice cream at all, let alone in my house.

My diet definitely isn’t perfect. But I’m reminded of what the standard American diet is and it’s not how I eat. My parents eat fast food regularly, eat ice cream and candy regularly, drink quite a bit of alcohol, and my mom drinks a lot of Pepsi. None of this is to judge them; they eat like most people do.

So now it’s time for me to just try to adjust my thinking and realize that I’m actually healthy. My husband’s slowly getting better. I need to keep doing what I’m doing. But maybe I also need to stop giving into so much anxiety about our health and just relax already.

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