Today is a rough day. My radiated area is very painful (thank you for pain medicine) and I don’t feel great. I’m a little nauseous and a bit light headed so I’ve spent a lot of today sleeping. It’s hard to be in a “funk” but it happens to all of us. I just keep reminding myself I’m almost done with this part.
As my boys nap and I settled in to sleep myself, I remembered that I had my blood work done this week. My normal blood work comes back within minutes but my oncologist also runs tumor markers, which take a few days. I debated on whether or not to pull up the results online and decided I wanted to know where they are. Oh my, I am glad I did.
My oncologist runs 2 tumor marker tests, one of which is called a CEA. It is an indicator of metastatic disease. Last September, I had cancer but it wasn’t widespread. My CEA was 0.9. Anything under 3 is normal. In May, I was at 2.7; higher but still normal. On July 11, the day of my biopsies, my CEA was 13.1 – yikes. Higher than 3 – something isn’t right. I started Xeloda on July 27. On August 10, my CEA was 26.5 – double yikes. Way high and I was on Xeloda…first cycle, but scary nonetheless. I didn’t give it another thought because I knew I was just starting Xeloda and needed to give it time.
So my heart raced as I pulled up the results today. Although I know I can’t change the number, it’s scary to see it for the first time.
On September 6, my CEA was 7.9.
I can’t even type that without crying. 7.9. You read that right.
Yes, it’s still above 3. But I literally started my 3rd cycle of Xeloda yesterday. And my number dropped that significantly in a month’s time. A month!
So today, I am reminding myself about perspective. A year ago this time, I was doing IV chemo and was down for a week at a time. A month ago, I hadn’t started radiation and my tumor markers were up. Today, the side effects suck but radiation is almost over – almost! The days are sometimes long but the weeks fly by. I will be healing from radiation in no time and only doing Xeloda. I’ll continue on Xeloda for as long as it works – and we pray that those numbers drop and stay dropped!
I cry today because I am so incredibly grateful for those numbers. To say how blessed I am would be an understatement. The fear of the unknown is a scary thing but those numbers don’t lie. It’s working, my friends. It’s working.
And it’s worth all of the side effects to be here today! 💚