Friday, September 14, 2012

A Year in Review

This is a photo taken the night before I got the results from my first biopsy, the night before I found out I really, truly had cancer. We went for a late night walk because I was so restless and needed out of the house. Paul was still confident that this was going to work out in our favour but I was much less convinced. I've never been so stressed out and weary in my entire life. I've gone back to this photo many times in the past year, on days when I felt particularly crappy, and looking at this has been emotional for me. I don't know if everyone sees what I do when I look at this picture, but I feel like this is such window into how I was feeling then. I've gone back to this photo, even at times when I felt really sick or down, because I never felt as bad as I did during this period and knowing that helped. 

It's been a year now. A year and 14 days since I was diagnosed, a year and 5 since Ethel got the boot, on the 20th it will be 9 months since I finished chemo and it has been 7 months since I completed radiation. It's been quite the year. Let's look at the stats shall we....In the past year I've done the following:

Surgery: 2
Biopsy: 3
Chemo: 4
Radiation: 33
Ultrasounds: 6
Xray: 3
Bone Scan: 3
CT Scan: 2
Mammogram: 2
Pet Scan: 1
MRI: 1
EKG: 1

I really wish I'd kept a tally on the number of needles I've had because I'd be willing to bet that I am in the low 60s. This is compounded by the fact that chemo seems to have ruined my veins and I have become every nurse's favourite patient to try and get blood from. The nurse who took my blood on the 5th, after a failed attempt at one vein and quite a lot of trouble finding another, filled up a latex glove with hot water and held it on the back of my hand for 5 minutes. This seemed to help and felt quite nice. I hope they do that again in the future.

I've also done this, so it hasn't all been bad:

Canada: 2
Cambodia: 1
Vietnam: 1
Hong Kong: 1
Singapore: 1
Bali: 1
Japan: 1

The best news is, I'm still in remission. My doc said today that most recurrence happens in the first 2-3 years (or at least, it does for my kind of cancer) so I'm glad to be 1/3 to 1/2 way through this period.

The other upside is my hair. One of the harder parts about cancer is looking sick. You look sick for so long and even at times when you feel okay. It is the terrible visual reminder to you and everyone else that something went horribly wrong on your life's path. I can't tell you how happy I am to have my hair back and have it finally look like something that someone could conceivable choose as a hairstyle. Not so much for the vanity of it all, but because I'm no longer a "survivor" or "cancer patient." I'm back to being just Laura. At least, on the outside.


  1. What a year! And you're still the same person, and still were through the scary and sick and ugly parts. I'm glad. I have become rather attached to you!

  2. An immense year!
    In the photo of you and Paul there is totally visible stress etched onto your face. Your expressions in your last batch of travel photos is such an incredible 360. I love it!

  3. Wow, what an unbelievable year it's been! So happy to see you here, on the otherside of that photo, beautiful, insightful, grateful, and sporting a cute new do which I may in the future copy.

    Happy days to you!

  4. hi! Fellow Canuck here, googled hair-growth after chemo and landed on your blog. Where I have now turned into a stakler and am reading all your entries!
    Thank you for this. The internet is a wonderful thing. I had a difficult oncologist appointment yesterday where my treatment was extended and it left me feeling very pissed off. But seeing your post like this, one year in review, it made me realize I am really not 'special' and i have to just accept that there is no short cut. and that my hair will grow back eventually!!!