Finished with the big three

I finished radiation treatment on Friday, July 3rd. The effects of radiation will continue to increase in my body for 2-3 weeks, and then I should start to recover.

I have now finished the big three: chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Most people would be finished with all their cancer treatment by this point. Some might have to take a pill every month for the next 1-5 years, from home, but they’d be finished with their standard treatment. In my case, I need to keep taking a medicine for seven more months, and unfortunately, it doesn’t come in pill form. I have to go to the doctor’s office every three weeks for thirty minutes each time to have the medicine administered by IV port. I hope to get this procedure transferred to a local clinic, but I have to go back to Houston at least one more time for this.

Here’s what I’m dealing with health wise right now:

  • My skin is burned from radiation. Some of it is black and some is bright red. My underarm is an open sore. I have blisters on my body too. It hurts a lot.
  • I suffer from extreme fatigue. Some people have less fatigue than me, and I think it is because they have fewer areas of their bodies radiated than what I have had. (I saw some patients get 5 minutes of radiation each day, when I was getting 30-45 minutes’ worth.)
  • I lost my sense of taste. It’s been gone about a month now. All drinks taste like water, and all food tastes like cardboard. The doctor said my taste should eventually return. It cannot return fast enough to make me happy. Eating has become completely unpleasant, yet I need nutrition to recover.
  • My esophagus is burned and swallowing anything (even a sip of water) hurts quite a lot. It will eventually heal. I tried blending my food, but I was told my esophagus muscles would forget how to swallow if I drank everything. So I have to swallow and bear the pain. As you can see, the neck is a very difficult place to get radiation.
  • My neck and arm muscles became stiff after surgery. Physical therapy loosened them somewhat, but then radiation came back in and tightened them again. I’m fighting a constant battle to get these in workable order so I don’t lose my use of these muscles or become a bit disfigured.

The good news is that, as of right now, the doctors believe all the cancer is gone from my body. The bad news is that I feel terrible.

My greatest fear is that by telling you my cancer is gone now, you will stop praying. There is a risk of recurrence that comes along with this disease. Some cancers have a higher risk of recurrence than others. The greatest thing you can do for me is pray that the cancer will not grow back, ever. If it were to come back, there would be fewer resources to combat it a second time around. I hope you will join me in praying for complete healing from this disease, in the powerful name of Jesus!

On top of my health woes, my car was totaled when it got flooded in Houston on Memorial Day. At first they thought it could be repaired, but it could not be. As you can imagine, that was a lot of fun to deal with while going through radiation.

I know that God is the one who has gotten me through these recent rough months, and I will rely on Him to see me through the days to come. I am thankful to family members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty a million times over to assist me in my journey. I am thankful to friends — many who persist in prayer; others who sent me cards, comments, casseroles, cash and chemo caps; and still others who drove me to appointments or came to visit. Fighting cancer is a tough gig and a full-time job. I have needed every bit of help I got.

Please keep praying for me. Also, please stop and say a prayer for my cousin named Wanda, and my college friend who is also named Wanda, who are both fighting similar battles to mine. Pray too for a high school classmate named James (no, not my brother) fighting cancer. (Hope I’m not leaving anyone out.) I do not believe for a minute that cancer comes from God. Let’s fight cancer on our knees, and give the glory to the Lord God, the giver of all good things.

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7 thoughts on “Finished with the big three

  1. Jana C says:

    Thank you for the update. Prayers continue for complete healing of your body and for you to feel better. I agree that prayers need to continue for the cancer to never return and I will pray for that also. In the meantime, enjoy your family and celebrate each victory as it comes….getting to taste again, etc. May God bless you with peace and comfort as you continue the treatment process and also bless you with the healing only He can give!

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  2. Cate says:

    So glad the big 3 are over for you. Wish I was closer to offer you some of that practical help that is so good and much needed.
    You are in my prayers.
    Looking forward to your next emails where you tell us you are feeling better and things have improved.
    Love you my precious friend.
    Catherine M. Xxx

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  3. Wanda says:

    Of course you will remain in my prayers Elizabeth. And thank you for chronicling your experience. You have stayed 1 step ahead of me in my journey and you are an inspiration. God Bless you!

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  4. Leanne says:

    We continue to pray for you and will not stop! Thank you for the update. I am so sorry for the burns, pain, and loss of taste. Praise God for good results. May you begin to have some relief. God bless you.

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  5. You are precious … the Lord is aware of each thought, cry of your heart, pain in your physical body that we continuously pray to Him about. We constantly remember you to our great Physician. Do not lose hope … He is always as close as your every heart beat and every breath / sigh. Praying as you ask and believing that He will answer in His time and His will. Isa. 26:3 always, Sis.

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  6. Teresa says:

    Continuing to pray for your complete healing! I can only imagine how dark the days are sometimes. I pray they grow fewer in frequency and lighter in intensity in the very near days ahead. Love to you!

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