6th chemo and break

Dear readers,

I’m finally back after a month leave from the blog. I didn’t want to abandon it like I did, nor the writing and sharing. I guess these last few weeks have been pretty rough. I always thought that the hardest part in having cancer and going through treatment would be the physical side effects and the uncertainty of if you gonna end up surviving or not. But it’s actually far from being the only challenge. And it is almost the “easy” part as you don’t have to make much decisions, you are being told what to do…
After-cancer is a mental battle. And that’s what I have been struggling with lately.

According to my psy, I suffer like most of other cancer patients of symptoms like PTSD. I know that sounds pretty funny as I did not got in war zones as veterans. But I kinda went tho, inside my head.

You see, for the past months, I have been living day by day, not making much plan, just to go through each day of treatment and try to make it as best as I can. I didn’t care at all of what would come after that, because I was not sure I would have the chance to be able to make futur plans too far…

When my oncologist told me that my scan was really good and that, if the remission is confirm on my final TEP scan post radiotherapy, which will be on January 19th, I will be finally FREE, I started to get scared. That I wouldn’t be able to go back to normal life.

It’s like the who I was, young, going out with friends, thinking about long term career goals and travels and the who I am during treatment, avoiding bacterias, staying in, resting, trying to not push my body too hard, no smoking, no drinking, no risks are battling.
One is telling the other that she is doing silly stuffs!

So at what point should I come back to the person I was before? Should I even ? Could I ? There’s no real answer according to the psy, only time is needed. I need time to trust my body who once betrayed me. So I can live without all those fears. But how could I really when the oncologist tells you that you will still be monitored at the end of the treatment because relapse occurs. In my case fortunately, relapse risk isn’t very high, but still slightly above 10%. This is not including damage from a tough treatment on the heart, lungs and rest of the organs nor the risk of secondary cancers, increased by the same treatment that save me from dying from the first!

I guess I do need time. Day by day, when feeling better and  better, I’ll learn how to trust life again! I’ll learn how to project myself in the future, more and more far everyday.

Don’t get it wrong ! I love not being worry about the day tomorrow, like i could disappear in the time between that. But it is just not really applicable with the life going on. And also I do believe that life consists in wanting stuffs! Being indifferent is like being dead.

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Wednesday, November 2nd,

It was my 6th and last chemo !

I went with my parents ! We did an apéro at the hospital with non-alcoholic beers and snacks! And took videos! Maybe I’ll do a little surprise and share it soon !

But white cells were OK but not my red cells! I was in anemia! And close to do a perfusion of blood so it can get back to an OK level! The thing is that since it was my last chemo, it wasn’t critical so I didn’t not do it! But the round because of the anemia went rough!

Red cells are transporting the oxygen and are necessary to be able to breathe, live and move correctly!

I basically spent the entire week in a bed, couldn’t stand up more than few minutes because I was really weak. My parents were trying to feed me some red meat for the iron to help but it was so hard to even get hungry and digest something that difficult!
Hopefully, the shots of Granocyte came at Day 6 to help boost my system and the weekend of November 13th, I was back on my feet!

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Sunday, November 13th

I headed to Paris for 10 days of class and exams. Since I wasn’t able to study the day before, I had to catch up a lot of materials in a really limited time! The weekend after, I went out even though I was tired, but I was just really glad to have the occasion to! I drink a bit of alcohol, nothing strong really but I did it! An additional step back to normal life!

Wednesday, November 22nd

After taking my last exam, I went back to get my stuff and left to Marseille! Already!
I cried a little! I was scared to start treatment again after feeling much much better lately and starting to enjoy my life again! Last chemo was already 20 days ago!

Tomorrow, Thursday, November 24th, I start radiotherapy !

First chemo round

This entry is part 14 of 21 in the series Oldest to latest posts

Wednesday, August 24th

I have an appointment for my first chemo!

The night was pretty short. Indeed, I came back at night from the hospital after the surgery to pose the port and I’m already ready to go on both my feet at 6.45AM.

Both my parents want to come but they work, so they decided that my mum will be with me the morning and my dad the afternoon.

After a light breakfast because my mum insisted that I eat (I’m usually never hungry the morning), we arrive at the hospital around 8.15AM. We check-in at the desk and then we wait for the doctor appointment.
The appointment is actually for 8.40AM. In the waiting room, there is a woman really well dressed with a nice dress and high heels. She looks like she could be doing anything, except chemo. I think it’s pretty brave actually. And she, for sure, look way prettier than me, with my Adidas jogging and sneakers…

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The doctor calls us. We talk and he explains how everything is going to be.
Every 15 days, I will have to check-in at the desk and then I will meet with him or another doctor or intern to check on my blood test if everything is OK. Then, I will have to wait for my chemo medication to be prepared at the hospital’s pharmacy. It takes around one hour and as soon as they have a room or box available for me, I will be able to start. However, he advices me to not plan anything else on the same day of a chemo because it could take longer if its busy and they don’t want me to be stressed because of other stuff. Chemo is already enough stressing. It’s nice of him to tell him ! If only he knew that I just have nothing plan for a month anyway, he would understand that it’s not really a big deal for me!

The doctor is signing all my prescriptions and OMG I have so many!
First, I have a blood test to take every 15 days so he can monitor me. Really important because if it’s not really good, I have to interrupt chemo the time to get better and that would be quite annoying for both of us.
What we fear particularly is called aplasia. It’s when the bone marrow doesn’t produce enough blood and immune cells (especially neutrophil cells) and the fonctionnement of the body and the immune system is impaired. A flu during aplasia and it’s a one-way ticket to the hospital till it’s gone. So, he’s taking it really seriously!

Therefore, he prescribes me Granocyte shots (same kind of Neulasta in the US I believe) on days 6, 7 and 8 after each chemo. It stimulates and boost the bone marrow to produce more blood and immune cells. This way it would mitigate the aplasia normally. Let’s hope it works good on me.
Especially since I announced to my parents my decision to pursue my studies anyway and attend my classes as much as I can. It’s gonna be quite challenging because of my chemo calendar and because my school is in Paris (I need to take a long train) but I will talk more about it later!
My parents are kinda overprotecting me right now. So, if my blood counts are too low, I fear that they won’t let me go…
My mum insists for me to wear a mask in public when there’s crowd of people around and keeps putting anti bacterian gel in all my purses. She is my little personal fairy. The doctor says I should wear the mask especially at the hospital, theater,… and avoid the metro in Paris.

14233302_10209346438431877_347695480_o-2For prescriptions, I have two type of antibiotics. One with two pills everyday, one with one pill three times a week.

Anti-nausea drugs. One really powerful, Emend, to take on Day 1, 2 and 3 of chemo. It works by changing the your perceptions of nausea. Another one, Zophren, to take when the first one isn’t enough to prevent myself from feeling like vomiting.

Painkiller for my belly, called Spacefon, for some reason I can’t find it in the US so I always had to take it with me when I went to study there! It’s good when you have stomach pain or your periods even. Finally, I also have to do mouth rinses like 6 times a day during the first week of chemo, because you can have really bad mouth pain as side effects.

A nurse is placing an anesthesia patch on my port so when they sting to put the perfusion, it doesn’t hurt too bad. The region of the port in the chest is pretty sensitive today since the surgery just happened but it should be more efficient for next chemo sessions !

The doctor tells me I can take regular painkiller (paracetamol) for post-chemo but to try to avoid if I can as they are trying to monitor fever (sign of aplasia generally).

In conclusion, I have from 2 to 5-6 medication to take per day. And depending on future side effects, the doctors could add some more. Alright, let’s hope my little belly will handle it all well.

Finally, after a bit more time waiting, they call me to tell me my room is ready! I start the chemo around 11AM. The chemo type is ABVD. It’s a combo or cocktail of 4 different medications. ABVD is the prime treatment for localized and spread Hodgkin’s lymphoma with favorable prognostic (Stade I to IV A). The less fortunate have to go through another chemo, more agressive, called BEACOPP.

FYI, before the Italians invented ABVD, Hogkin’s lymphoma was not very well cured. I remember reading about the first chemo trials, it was made with a derivative from mustard gas… So toxic and agressive that patients were dying two years after treatment. In 1970 and after, ABVD was used and was a great success, lowering the mortality rate like crazy ! I feel pretty thankful for that!

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(My best selfie)

 

They start by giving me antihistamine and cortisone to prevent allergic reactions to the chemo products. Then, the nurse pose the perfusion through my port. They inject me a liquid for hydratation and some paracetamol.

First chemo product is the A. For Adriamycine (or also called Doxorubicine). It’s a red liquid. It takes 15min for the flask to get empty.
This one is probably the worse! It’s the one that makes you loose your hair, color the pee in red, gives nausea and is toxic for the heart.

In Boston, I had to do an Echo for my heart. During 40min, the cardiologist took screenshots of my heart and listened to me heart beat to make sure my heart is strong enough for the chemo. So I should be fine!

Then, you have the D. It also takes 15-20min in perfusion. It’s the Dacarbazine. Also in cause for nausea.

After that, the B. For Bleomycine, which takes 10min. It breaks the DNA of the cells. It’s toxic for the kidneys and particularly for the lungs. When I arrived in France 10 days ago I had to take a test for the lungs capacity. I had to do it two times, it was pretty hard and I was kinda right at the edge for a regular lung. Hopefully, I finally succeeded to inspire and expire enough air like normal people. It would be quite a shame if I didn’t pass the exam while people 2-3 times older do it well.

Finally, the last but not least, the famous V. For Vinblastine. It takes an hour and prevents the cells and particularly the cancer cells from dividing and multiplying. However, it also cause the hair loss, constipation, mouth and jaw pain, weakness and headaches.

I have a TV in the room but I just turn it on for noise background. I talk with the nurses, who are nice and some are almost my age. I will see them pretty often. A woman brings me a sandwich too, but I only eat half. I don’t really have nausea yet but I’m not that hungry.

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My dad might be a bit bored by the length of the chemo and fall asleep for a bit. He also worked all morning and is probably exhausted! It’s true that the chemo is a bit long, I’ll take a book next time. And a blanket too, because I’m starting to feel a bit of chills.

Someone brought me some flyers for hospital’s activities and different type of alternative care offered. Like hypnose, sophrology, yoga, osteopathy, hair and esthetic care, little training to get used back to odor and taste of food, support group,…

So many stuffs! I need to check it out once I know how it goes and what I need. Finally it’s over. It’s 2.30PM and I go back home with my dad.

Now, it’s the unknown! So I hope it will go OK. I decided to take a nap since I’m still pretty toasted from the short night post-surgery.

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The next day, my grandma came to watch me. Seriously, it’s a bit weird since at my age, it should be me watching her. But she’s still young and energetic. Also, she’s always smiling. Pretty crazy when I think about it, I can’t remember seeing her annoyed or mad even when I was a little young and wild animal. She also knows how to make me laugh ! Showing me her funny facebook pics and videos… I doubt most grandmas are that connected. I hope the following days will pass by fast. I will make the next article about the effects of chemo and how it went for me after this first chemo.

Surgery to pose my Port-a-cath for chemo

This entry is part 13 of 21 in the series Oldest to latest posts

Tuesday August 23rd

I posed a PAC (port-a-cath or chemo port).

What is it ?

The chemotherapy works by injecting medications (or rather poison) in the veins. But, in order to do the chemo treatment, they need to inject in the arm veins again and again, during months, which can cause a lot of problems because of the products’ toxicity. Also, it often gives the sensation of burning because of one of the product in the chemo cocktail.

For all these reasons, in addition to infectious and safety issues, doctors prefer to pose a PAC when you need many chemo rounds.

It’s a little case with the top covered with a thin membrane to sting directly in it. It’s located high in the chest. It’s linked to a little pipe catheter than goes in the jugular vein in the lower neck., way bigger and resistant than the one in the arm. Everything is under the skin. You can just see the little bump at the surface.

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The day before and the morning before the surgery, I had to use betadine in the shower to make sure all the regions in my body are sterilized. It’s very important as the chemo which will follow the next day will attack the immune system as well, making me weak in front of all kinds of infections.

I am on my way to the surgery room. Just before entering, I’m placed in a little airlock room. I see a patient getting out of the surgery room and he seats next to me. He also has a lymphoma and start chemo the following day. He’s around 45-50 yo. He’s nice and we talk. He says the surgery goes pretty fast and it’s not too bad. He asks me questions and I answer, pretty relaxed, so appeased than he can’t refrain from asking me

“But you know what’s a lymphoma right?”

I think he’s a bit worried that I didn’t get that lymphoma is actually a cancer. But I know. I just think that you have to go through these things anyway so I’m just trying to keep an Ok face. Plus, if I can get the Warrior confidence look, it’s a bonus!

Arrived in the surgery room, there are three women. Music is loud. Rock music. I would almost forget I will get into surgery in a few minute now.

They give me the anesthesia shot.

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Fall-Winter 2016 Collection for hospital outfit (not kidding tho, it’s much nice than the old piece of tissu I got in Boston, this dark blue..)

The surgeon and her assistant are really nice. They keep talking to me, ask me which songs I would like to hear. I’ve never done local anesthesia so I’m a bit worried that I will freak out at some point if I feel weird sensations. But they are are really good at making you comfy and confident. It is almost a nice moment that I’m living.

The surgeon tells me that finally the port will be put on the left side, not the right. Because I already got a surgery on the right side, and it might have moved around the stuff a little bit. But to not worry even if it’s closer to the heart, because anyway the jugular vein in the left or the right, it’s the same!

They cut in two places. The first incision is on the left side of the neck, above the clavicula, to pose the catheter in the vein. The second is under the clavicula, high in the chest still, to put the little box. They use the echo machine to get a clear picture of my anatomy and get insurance that everything is placed correctly.

The sensation is a bit weird. Well, I’m not really in pain but it’s still disturbing. Especially since I feel the movement, like the surgeon pushing the cable under my skin…

We keep talking. The surgeon studied a part of her medical education in the US so we compare the cities we went to and tell each other what we liked in each. My heart bump a big time. But since I do pretty often tachycardia crisis (nothing to worry about that), I just feel more stressed. I don’t know I start loosing sensation and feeling like I don’t know if I’m doing well or not good. I panic. I tell them.

They stop for a bit. The time to let me breathe, calm down and take my pulse. My pulse is going back to normal and I start feeling much more normal. Let’s continue and finish with this stuff.

Overall, it lasted like half an hour. Very quick!

When I get out, I station in the airlock room as well. A woman enters the room as well. She’s around 40yo and sitting in a wheelchair. I can see she’s pretty weak. She tells me she has breast cancer, but it has metastasized so she is starting chemo in two days. She asks my age. There’s this exchange compassionate exchange look going on. Like, we just understand each other. The feeling of we don’t know what will happen in the futur, we have no warranty or nobody is telling us you’ll be cured for sure. There is just hope. So I wish her the best and luck and we hope to see each other in the corridors of this hospital during treatment.

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I’m back in the room where my dad is waiting for me. They put me a huge bandage, like Miss USA scarf style. It’s pretty funny but I will only keep it for 4-5 hours to avoid having a big bruise.

Back at the house, it starts to feel a bit painful but it’s not too bad. The anesthesia effect is just going away. When I try to drink or eat I feel the sensation, but I got used to it with the drain in my neck last surgery. And it soon went away anyway.

I can’t put water on my bandaids for a week. No pool for me or well, I just put my feet. I also try to adapt when sleeping, because I sleep on my belly pretty often but I don’t want to press on the port too much at the beginning. I’m just getting ready in my head for the next day (chemo).

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How is it 10 days after

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Babies and Psys

This entry is part 12 of 21 in the series Oldest to latest posts

Monday, August 22nd, I have an appointment at the hospital “Conception” in Marseille, specialized in gynecology, maternity and assisted procreation.

The doctor is young and really nice ! While in the US, they directly started by talking me about freezing my embryos. Here, she starts from the beginning. Explaining exactly how fertility works and what is the issue with chemo.

She says that Hodgkins’ lymphoma is a bit particular and is known as pausing the cycle by itself for unknown reasons, in contrary of other cancers like breast cancer. Thus, ovocyte puncture is a bit more difficult with this condition, than in other cases.

But that, a 4 months ABVD chemo, only reduce fertility like if I was 2 years older.  And that even at 26yo, you are still very fertile.

So for her, the operation isn’t worth all the cons and trouble and that I should be fine as long as I don’t wait to be 35 to have kids.

A chemo of 8 months for example is more discutable. She would have proposed the puncture. 6 months is really in between yes and no.

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I am a bit reassured, because I’m really down to add another surgery to my calendar.. and, at least, I can start chemo right away !

She also tells me that just in case I need to get on a longer chemo or a different and more agressive chemo treatment in the future, options are available and I would need to visit her again to discuss it.

Wednesday, August 23rd, during my first chemo, a Psy came to talk to me.

Psy consults at my hospital, for new patient aged 18-30, are mandatory. I think it’s fair. I even think it’s good because as young patient, we tend to want to control everything, make it less of a deal and appear as able to handle everything fine. But I guess that all the things you refrain from saying can catch you at some point in your life !
Anyway, better prevent than cure, so let’s say it is a good way for me to prevent myself from turning insane in the future.

The psy arrives in my room where I’m getting my ABVD cocktail. (I’ll do an article especially on that).

It’s true that psy are a bit scary. First minutes when we meet a new person are always particular. It’s the time it takes to make a 1st impression of who you are. Of course, it’s way too short and everyone of use have thought knowing stuffs about people and ended up not really knowing them at all! But so, I am kind of watching out first what I’m saying so I don’t appear insane.

We talk about different stuffs, the US, my boyfriend, my family, my studies.

We talk about how and when I learned and what plans I need to change because of the treatment. How it’s difficult to deal with the unknown.

I tell her about the blog, how I plan to face people and their look and judgments, how I really care about being honest (primarily because I’m like the worst liar) and to talk about it. To raise awareness and not play the game like it doesn’t matter or that it’s not true. She tells me that the Blog is actually a great idea. That way I can express my concerns and fill my raising awareness mission. For a personality like mine, it’s a good solution to feel heard and social.

I also talk about my desire of not pausing my school. I want to graduate on time and start my life as I should have. I want to fight, beat it and don’t let cancer changes me.

I also talk about my biggest fear: Isolation. Stay sick and uncured, continue the harsh treatments, see less and less friends. Not make any advancement on my personal life while all my friends from college are starting theirs. That ultimately, I end up alone. Because everyone is busy. Which is normal, and would have probably been my case as well if roles were switched.

Me, the impatient and fast-speed young girl, always planning and organizing stuffs in the futur, because for me present is too slow. And how now, all I have is the present. Present is great actually, for a lot of people, but i’m not used to think about present. I took tomorrow for granted. So now, it’s the whole way I conceive life and what matters that needs to be clarified. If I just have today, I take today and I enjoy it as much as I can. Of course, it’s more easy to say than do everyday.

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(my teddy bear, this superstar …)

I end up talking about my parents. How it’s weird to come back home at 24 when you left at 17. And that how somehow in my mind, it’s like i’ve done something wrong and miss on my life and that now I need to come back under my mother’s arm to receive protection.

Of course, it feels great to be back! My parents gives all their energy, time and patience to help me, cook me stuff I want and try to make the journey light and pleasant. I am so lucky and I know it! I think that’s what it is at the end. I feel I get so much that I don’t deserve. All the luck and love I receive. I think I have the survivor syndrome even though I’m not even cured yet.

Tears flow. I feel relieved because I know that the psy is here to hear those thoughts. It’s her role. So I don’t have to build up and show that I am strong and confident and unreachable. I just can show how I am and it helps. A lot.

Finally, our meeting ends. She tells me that everything I feel and I’m going through. It’s normal. That I am a NORMAL person.

She goes to talk to my mum, right away. Because being the patient it’s not easy. But being the mother, it’s unquestionably the worse. (MUM IF YOU READ THIS, I LOVE YOU)

It was my first experience seeing a Psy and it went really well. Psychologists are available at the hospital all along and I know i will run into them very soon. Especially for support groups.

Meeting with New oncologist and IPC

This entry is part 10 of 21 in the series Oldest to latest posts

Thursday, August 18th

Few days have passed since I arrived in the South of France. I spent them mostly enjoying family time and, of course, some good food. I missed the wine, cheese, and dry salame (in France, it’s called saucissons but I feel in English, there is non perfect word to call it because Salame is a bit different !). Now, it’s time to go back to the important matter: get cured.

My mum and dad insist to come with me and meet the new hematologist-oncologist. (damn! it’s a long term)
They heard from him from 3 different doctor friends and he has more than 20 years of experience, so don’t worry for me! I’m in the best hands I could be in!

The Hospital is called Paoli-Calmettes Institute, in Marseille. It’s the big center for cancer treatment for the whole South-East region. Everything is really modern and design in it. It’s almost making you love the place.

By the way, Cancer in France is considered as a long-term disease (even though I hope it won’t be very long for me!). Therefore, all the necessary procedures and treatments are covered 100% by the social security. (Yeah, I realized how lucky we are in France when i start traveling and living abroad. It is sure pretty rare to have such an amazing health system!)

 

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12PM. Time to meet the new doctor. HELLO !
He looks like a nice person and the kind that doesn’t tell you B*******T  either! I like that.
Not like the previous one. Not like Mc Steamy (cf Dr Mark Sloan).
He was nice but between us it got a bit weird.. Ah yes now I remember why!

I was then with my boyfriend in the examination room for the first meeting when he tried to talk about fertility issues after chemo. But instead of giving me time to think about it and be ready to talk, he just went straight to the craziest option (for me).

Best option is that we go directly with the Frozen Embryos technique.

– Excuse me ?

– (While looking at me and my boyfriend with the same stolid like it’s not a big deal) Well, first we would need to get your implant out. Then, stimulate your hormones so you can ovulate. Conceive a baby and once the egg is fertilized, extract and freeze it. It gives really good results! Your best option.”

OK but I’m like not ready at all. Neither is my boyfriend. I mean come on the doctor doesn’t even know which kind of couple we are. I could have found my boyfriend in a bar the day before… (which is what happen. No, i’m kidding with you but you got the sense)

So, let’s go back to what we were talking about! The NEW oncologist here in France.

“Sally, I have read your whole file but why won’t you start and tell me what happen from the beginning.”

I start to tell him what I know. The lump. Dad who insist to get it check. The fatigue. The MRI. The surgery and biopsy. Classes. The first oncologist opinion.

My mum cuts me and start talking. About little stuffs that seriously don’t matter. That she thinks I don’t sleep at night. BLA BLA BLA. But she doesn’t stop. And she keeps going and talking more and more. The doctor look at me and my dad..

“Stop. Now I want silence.

Sally is the patient so it is Sally who talks. Thank you”

Ha Ha! I like this doctor! I don’t mean it is fair to my Mum because I know she’s acting crazy because of the stress. She is just a little bit lost in all of this. But I mean, she deserved to be stopped at some point. And now she knows how the doctor will respond.

He explains us. You have Hodgkins’ lymphoma as you already know. Localized in more than two sites in the upper part of you body, what we call Stage II. You got no weight loss of more than 10% of your overall weight, no night sweats to the point you have to change your pyjama nor fever that last more than 8 consecutive days. Your sedimentation speed is good.

You are what we call a FA-VO-RA-BLE case. FAVORABLE.
“It means that with you, Sally, we go forward with the hope that this first chemo will be efficient and that you’ll enter remission. Understood?”

(Great! It is nice to hear it again even tough i knew it already! I guess it is very good for my parents to hear it from the doctor’s mouth, face-to-face. Especially for my mum ! I imagine that if he was saying UN-FA-VO-RABLE, the atmosphere at home would be much more pesant !)

Now, I have the report of my American colleague, who suggests a treatment by 6 Cycles of chemotherapy type ABVD (it means 6 months so 12 injections with one every two weeks).

But, I do the things a bit differently! Recent researches have shown that patient following a combination of chemo and radiotherapy showed a lesser risk of relapse with this disease than a longer chemo. But I’m gonna be very honest with you!

Thirty years ago, radiotherapy wasn’t as advanced as today and it wasn’t allowing us to target small regions of the body without risking to affect nearby organs. There has been an increased risk of secondary cancers for these nearby organs. However, today, we have the “in-node” technology, allowing us to target up to a group of cells, very precisely.
There is still a risk! And I won’t be lying to you saying it is 100% safe! But this risk is now very very small!

Since 20 years that I have been doing this job, I saw around 50 cases of Hodgkins per year. 40% were women. In total, I treated around 500 female patients. I only had 3 who came back for secondary cancers, especially breast cancers. Less than 1%.

This risk exists! But it’s small. If you get another cancer because of that.. How can i put it in word gently .. It’s TOO BAD! But according to me, radiotherapy is a crucial tool in the treatment of localized Hodgkin lymphoma to consolidate and lower the relapse risk. I would advise this to my own daughter. It’s 3 months of chemo and 1 month of radiotherapy. I’m taking an appointment with the radiotherapeutic doctor so you can talk more in-depth with her. Anyway, till November, the course of the treatment stays the same. Radiotherapy only happens after chemo is over.”

Once the appointment is over, I go to the lab for another blood test. I should get used to it as I will do one every 2 weeks.
Do 3 months of chemo instead of 6 would be way nice, even if I’m a bit concerned of the risk of radiotherapy. We talked with ma parents and decided that we will take the time to get more info about it!

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Back in France and Cassis

This entry is part 8 of 21 in the series Oldest to latest posts

Hello friends,

I am back in France ! The flight went well and the last days flew by so fast ! I am a bit saddened to leave my boyfriend there and cut my stay two weeks shorter but I feel relieved to be back next to my parents. These past few weeks have been intense with all the stress, appointments and surprise.

I even did a panic crisis! Like a real and intense one! While watching The Diner Game with my boyfriend. I guess just too much to cope with and I felt drowning. But no! I’m very alive and I’m actually feeling pretty well !!!

Of course, I am starting the treatment  right now, so I will need a few days probably to update the blogs about everything going on!

On my planning, surgery to pose the MediPort, first chemo, first appointment with the Psy and the Gynecologist doctor for fertility, new haircut, my new hospital and the new oncologist who is helping me, the different treatment he propose, other free services offered at the hospital like hypnosis (haha sounds crazy and fun I like it!) and of course so more!
How to juggle bewteen class and chemo, how to do the hair and make up when the time will come to shave, … Who knows!

Btw, this is exactly why I titled this site Who stole my Mojo?

The cancer stole my Mojo but I’m gonna get it all back, my independence, my self-confidence, me feeling good about myself and how I look.

Bonus, I share with you few pics of Cassis, the beach city next to where I live in the South which is so beautiful and colorful! Let me know if you like it! (Ps – Another reason to come visit me!)

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Cap Canaille

Mussels and Fries with my Mum

Cute little hidden street

Unexpected visit

This entry is part 4 of 21 in the series Oldest to latest posts

During my hospitalisation, I got an unexpected visit.

A man knocks on the door and enter my room where I’m lying on the bed, my boyfriend on a chair next to me.

He introduces himself “Hello, I’m Mr. Wayne Earl, I am a chaplain.
I visit the patient to see if I can help them with anything and if you want I am also often downstair, at the Chapel. Feel free to join me there.”

I am like a super non religious person and I was always kind of scared to talk to these people, especially in the US with all the craziness around religions while in France we get used to a laic system..
But my boyfriend is super chatty with strangers and, as always, he starts conversing with this man. He tells us that he lived in a lot of different countries especially in Saoudi Arabia, Belgium and France because he was a teacher and also served in some churches.

We start to talk in French and I can tell he didn’t practice since a while and was enjoying the occasion he doesn’t seem to get much often.
He asks about my surgery and what happened, info that I tell him. He looks at me with a caring but concerned look. Then, he says bye and start walking out.

But, finally, he turns around and tell us

Have you heard of the movie The fault in our stars ?”

Yes, of course we heard about it, we even watched it together and i remember how my throat felt so dry I couldn’t stop myself to start crying. The movie had also a beautiful and noble message in the drama.

“Well.. the girl in the movie, Grace, it’s kind of my own daughter. You see, my daughter Esther Earl met John Green at a fair and he became a close friend of our family. My daughter wrote her own autobiography, which is called This Star Won’t Go Out. She passed away 5 years ago… John got inspired by Esther, her personality and her strength and humor while she was sick and wrote about Grace, the girl of the book, thinking about Esther. He dedicated his book to her.

I think I am telling you all of that because when I saw you at first, you appeared to me as being so young, like my daughter, and also you speak French. Esther loved France. We lived in the South for a bit, really close to where your parents are located. When Esther got sick, we went to the hospital in Marseille before deciding to head back to Boston to pursue the treatment. Now, I am taking care of a foundation also called This star won’t go out , to help kids, teenagers and young adults with cancer and finance their treatment.

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The book of Esther

John Green with the foundation’s bracelet (that I got offered by Wayne but lost ..)

 

And then, he left. Leaving us astonished. I think i had a lot of questions for him that I would have like to ask.

After searching some additional info on the internet, I saw that he did a TED Talk “Dying is inevitable. Living is not.” talking about how it is important to try to live a full and happy life rather than focus on the term of life and the disease effects.

I also found an interview of Esther’s sister (his other daughter) talking about the similarities between the Grace in the book and the real Esther. How so many sentences in the book sounded like it was actually Esther talking. But the saddest part was that the love story never existed. Esther died very young, at 16, after fighting during 4 years her cancer. But she has known another type of love, the love from her family during this hard battle.

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The start of “I don’t know”

This entry is part 1 of 21 in the series Oldest to latest posts

Since January 2016, I’m in Boston. I’m doing a dual master degree with my French university Paris School of Business and with Boston University.

In France, I’m studying accounting, audit and consulting but I like discovering new fields and challenges so I just thought that getting an American master in Financial Economics would be good for me! Especially, since my boyfriend is living in California.

I kinda like Boston. It has its own charm. It is way smaller than NYC thus, it is really easy to just get anywhere plus it has a real history and old architectures mixed with modern buildings. There are also a ton of universities, like 50 of them, including the well-known Harvard and MIT.

A sunday night in late April, I’m watching the new episode of GOT (probably like EVERYBODY else). I touch my throat and feel a lump right above my right collarbone. I find it a bit curious so I touch the same place on the other left side but there’s nothing. As my dad is a doctor, I always find a moment for messaging him and ask silly things about health. I guess I just miss being home and that’s the perfect excuse to get some news.

14087651_10209197241142038_544841528_o-2He responds and say that there is probably nothing to worry about, like a cyst, but that just in case I should go check it out at the clinic.
My mum texts me like almost instantaneously. She is always the worry type, stressing about things (what I eat, how I feel, what I do) but that night, it is more to tell me “Are you sure you are not hypochondriac ? Hi Hi”.
Alright, I get it! I guess getting sick in the US is one of my biggest worry after I learned how much money the health system cost there! However, this time I got my own private insurance covering me 100%. Lucky me!

I decide to go to the hospital. Some nurses take my vitals sign and ask me my motive to visit.I get the physical exam done. The doctor shows me on the echo screen the lump. “You see, it seems liquid inside so it’s probably a cyst or a lymph node. But you told me you got no symptoms so there is no reason to get worry about it.”
He stills make me do a blood test and a chest X-Ray. All clear. I’m waiting few hours in an empty room almost regretting being here. Finally, I get the discharge and I’m able to go home.

The thing is I really feel tired since January, like I can’t manage to wake up early. My classes are all in the late afternoon so for that, there is no issue but I’m trying to get started and study for the CFA exam on June 4th.
You’re supposed to pitch in 300 hours to get through the 2,500 pages of the curriculum to pass. I’m setting alarms at 9AM and every 15mins after that but I still don’t get on my feet before noonish.

 

I blame it on the weather. Boston is pretty cold in the winter (you don’t survive without layers … not really looking sexy like in California huh ) and the heater in the apartment works only halfway… Brrrrrrrr!