So I’m DONE, Now What?

So after finishing treatment of course I was excited, but there was also this really strong feeling of the unknown, the fear sets in, now what am I supposed to be doing.  During treatment you at least know the cancer is shrinking and the treatment is working but then you stop and go, is it going to return?  how will I know if I am ok?  How will I know if it comes back?  What if I get another cancer because of my treatment?  How many years did this shave off my life?  and so on!  It is terrifying.  Your doctor says ok we will see you back in 3 months for a check up.  Of course part of me is yes lets go back to austin and get back on with my life again, and the other part is like yikes, what is going to happen.  Now to no ones fault but I really felt like I was a little ill prepared on what to expect and had no idea how to rebuild my health.  I mean I am in college, in a stressful environment at time, you don’t have the best health habits, sleep or eating wise you know.  I went back in to school like nothing happened, meaning I jumped back in to a summer schedule and then helped with my sorority rush that summer.  well it was tougher than I thought.  I mean I had felt pretty good since my last chemo was in march, but the radiation made me tired and kinda fried my skin, but that was healed.  One thing that was tough was that I was still wearing my wig and with a texas ball cap b/c I hated how the wig looked without it, and imagine that in summer in austin walking around campus!!  HOT!    I had a pretty hard class that summer, and when you have a test they make you take your hats off.  I had decided to quit wearing my wig around June and would still just wear my hat.  I walked in to class one day and everyone was like oh hey you cut your hair!  I was like oh yea.  I was still pretty self conscious about what happened so didn’t tell anyone in class about the last semester.  The day we had a test I was really embarassed about taking my hat off.  I think now I wouldn’t care but I cared back then.  Even though we were all taking a test I felt like everyone was staring at me even though I knew they weren’t! Anyway, I survived through that one, and moved on.  That August I was turning 21!  There is a pic of me from celebrating at my moms house with some friends and then some of us went to vegas for a few days and that is when Princess Diana was killed.  I will never forget that day or where I was.  At that point  you are just lucky to be alive and have survived what you went through.  I felt like I was kinda moving on, but you always have that what if in the back of your head and when you get a symptom that is nothing you still wonder.  I got sick that summer trying to do too much stuff and I realized then that I wanted out of the sorority.  I unfortunately didn’t feel the support I needed and was being pushed to hard to help with rush so I went inactive that semester and really never came back to it.  I scheduled my follow up visits around my school schedule since I was in austin and my oncologist was in Bedford which is three hours away.  It worked out pretty good.  I did have one follow up CT scan and that was clear and didn’t need any more after that.  With each upcoming visit the nerves would rush back and then in between you feel pretty ok. One thing I did experience several times when I went back to school was pleurisy on the left side where I had radiation.  Radiation pretty much like melts your tissues together and makes them less pliable and pleurisy is inflammation of the lining around the lung.  It would hit me out of the blue and I would get a sharp pain in my ribs every time I took a breath in. That was challenging when it happened while you were on campus and had to walk to get a bus.  I didn’t really do anything about it but I couldn’t exercise during that time and just took it easy and eventually after a few days it would go away.  When I bent over I would feel this rubbing sensation and it was so bizarre and then laying on one side I felt this bloop bloop with my heartbeat.  That happened probably three or four different times and then it finally never came back.   I figured things were going better.  I graduated a year late, but with all that happened I figure that was ok.  I graduated in 1999 with a degree in nutrition.   My initial plan was to become a dietitian but after going through all of that I was starting to think I wanted to do more with patient care.