No Evidence of Disease
“CT CHEST, ABDOMEN AND PELVIS: No evidence of metastatic disease in the chest, abdomen or pelvis…. PET/CT SKULL-THIGH: There are no foci of hypermetabolism to suggest presence of metastatic disease…. MRI BRAIN: Normal.”
— Scan results, 9/19/2013
At the halfway point of my initial 6 months of treatment, my body was scanned to see whether the treatment was working. A few days after the scans, I got the results: NED, which stands for No Evidence of Disease. No cancer! Treatment continued, however, just to make sure the SCCC beast that likes to hideout would be banished for good. When I “graduated” from treatments at the end of November, 2013, after 3 surgeries, 23 nights in the hospital, 28 sessions of radiation and 168 hours of chemotherapy infusions, I was rewarded with another clean scan. It was official: I was finished with treatment and in remission! The thing about cancer, and especially an aggressive disease like Neuroendocrine Small or Large Cell Cervical Cancer, is that the joy of remission is always a tempered by fear. Will it come back? If it does, will I “beat” it again? Am I truly free to resume my normal life?
In my case, I fought back against the fear of death by cramming in as much life as possible in those first few months. As a runner, that meant I signed up for races – the Surf City half marathon in February with a dear friend, then the L.A. Marathon in March (where I got to meet one of the goddesses of running, my hero Deena Kastor!), followed by the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Dallas with my husband and cousins, and finally the Hollywood Half Marathon in April with another very close friend and my husband. While I love running, the truth is that I also got carried away and signed up for everything I wanted to do. There were other firsts too, including going to the Coachella music festival, and yes, I even went to a monster truck rally (why not?). I also made it a point to visit family members and reconnect with old friends. In April, my mom and I attended a gathering of some of the rare women like me who have fought or are fighting SCCC or LCCC. By May, I was exhausted from spending nearly every weekend doing something fun or new, but that’s how it is when you’re too busy living life to take time off to rest!
As I write this in September of 2014, I am facing a recurrence of this nasty cancer that made itself known in June. This time it has moved into my liver, advancing me to Stage IV cancer. The fight is back on, but I’m no longer waiting on those three sweet words, No Evidence of Disease, to get back to the business of living. I may not be making plans too far out in the future since I don’t know what treatments might lie ahead (though I do have my Coachella 2015 tickets already!), but spending time with the people I love, trying new things and working on that bucket list remains a priority.