Holding My Own

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Stable! That's what the doctor said and so it sounds good to me. Maybe it's not quite as good as shrinking, but it's definitely better than growing!

After 13 rounds of chemo, I'm doing well and feeling fine. Still, it's disconcerting to walk in the doors of MD Anderson without the "protection" of one's employee badge. It kinda feels like I'm not wearing clothes - and for some reason, I get the impression that people are staring at me.

GailOffice.jpgVulnerable frame of mind
In my rational mind, I know that isn't the case, but I still feel the eyes on me. Suddenly, I'm in a more vulnerable frame of mind. What will he say this time? What did my blood test report? And, most important of all, what did the MRI have to show the radiologist who read it?

Then there's the cognitive testing. I have to admit that I always hate this part - it's been a long time since I was in school. This time, my "teacher" is a Ph.D. and an instructor in neuro-oncology and I don't like it that she's the one with all the answers.

I can recall a list of seven or eight numbers, but I have a hard time saying them backwards. I go through the dictionary in my mind to come up with every word I can remember that begins with a designated letter. I sort a long list of words into categories so that I can repeat them all. I fit little metal pegs into their slots. I truly struggle to match images with three-dimensional blocks - I've never been good at this task.

There's more, but I begin wondering how I'm doing - if I'm as sharp as I was before this all began. I don't like not knowing if I'm making the grade.

Most of the time, I can forget that I'm a brain cancer patient. It's the sticks in the arm that remind me. I don't get frightened, but I do always wonder what the report will be this month. I guess that as long as it's stable, it's OK with me.

Celebrating milestones
However, in spite of these pokes and prods and the anxieties that go along with them, the fact remains that I am a survivor. In fact, this is a special week at MD Anderson because it's a week to honor cancer survivors. Special activities are being held to observe survival milestones reached by every patient. You can go to a baseball game, videotape your own story (and even your cancer journey, if you'd like), calm yourself with yoga, and try your hand at drumming.

I'm celebrating each new day with every survivor and you can, too. Visit the survivorship section of the MD Anderson website for a list of all that's planned to celebrate life - to celebrate YOU!


Do I qualify to say I am a survivor even though I haven't hit the 5 year survival rate yet? I just want to celebrate that I am cancer free and have been 3 years next month. I was diagnosed with "Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma" in March.07. 6 rounds of chemo, losing my hair my tests show NEC right now. I am due back to have my 6 month check up this month at M. D. Anderson. I see Dr. Younes. I feel very lucky that I was in the right place and the right time to get the best cancer treatment. Although it took 4 years to get my diagnosis, I feel very lucky that I am a patient of M. D. Anderson. Congrats all of you!!

According to the definition of survivor that is backed by the Centers for Disease Control and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a cancer patient is a survivor from the day of diagnosis. Survivorship is generally divided into three categories: living with, living through and living beyond the cancer experience. Sounds like you’ve probably joined the living beyond. I hope you check out our Cancerwise blog on a regular basis. Dr. Younes is one of our most faithful contributors, besides being an excellent oncologist.

All the best on that next check-up!

Hello Gail,

Got my MDA newsletter last night and noticed an upcoming session with a Gail Goodwin and wondered if it was you. Started researching and found out that it is...So sorry that you are a patient but so glad your vast talents are being put to good use. The Pearce's filled me in on what's up with weddings, new granddaughter, and brain tumor at the Goodwins. Glad to know you are doing well. I was at MDA all day Monday. I'm up to 14 years surviving. Had a breast cancer tumor pop up in L3 vertebrae 2 years ago after 12 years of remission. in remission again, so far. Still doing treatments, etc. and still seeing cardio from damage from the 1st round of treatments, but moving along. Crista has a 19 month old boy, Parker. He is way more fun than I remember my kids being! I get to keep him on Wednesdays. His Granduck is totally smitten.
Will pray for good reports for you! Vicky

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