4 months post-surgery. And all is CLEAR.
As one day flows into another, the road after my Feb. 28th surgery remains full. Full of rebuild energy, joyful laughter, welcomed, and at times, tearful introspection, questioning, and comical butt-kicking revelations of weight gain and physical transformation! All of them is experienced with awe and marvel.
Life is also full with aspects and acts of measure--cm. lbs. frequency. duration. miles. therapy hours. range of motion increments. repetitions. How else do we know if we've progressed?
Cancer survival can also be measured on a schedule. An intentional time-lapse that we survivors can hold on to and hopefully, many years later, look back on with gratitude and thanks as we play back the rich and hefty reel of experiences we call our long life. What you pray for in all this measuring, however, is not a measure at all. It is a prayer to see nothing on the screen. It is a prayer to hear a simple statement-- ALL is CLEAR. But if we are measuring, then we pay attention and we mark time. And milestones become time-stones.
- 3 months. Post-op follow-up. 4 months in my case due to pandemic related delays. To see if healing is happening as intended.
- 6 months. Follow-up. Recovering and staying clear.
- 1 year milestone. The first year of surviving cancer is the most critical window. If things were to go sideways, it would most likely be in the first year. We want this year to be as medically uneventful as possible.
- 5 year milestone. After the 5 yr. mark, survivors are considered officially cancer-free.
CT scan came back clear. The "flap" inside my mouth appeared on the scans as a "fatty” void not the dense tongue muscle tissue where the tumor used to live. Boy, am I ever so thankful for that fat! Shape and morphology look normal. The right side has gotten used to its counterpart on the left as I "train" the two to work in sync to form words and to swallow. Neck and thigh scars are healing well. These beauties are something else! Pretty wicked. Even formidable to some, I'm guessing! Part of the package I carry going forward.There is still a bit of numbness in both places which will gradually disappear over the next year.
I actually used the word "awesome" to describe how my tongue was looking. It was repeated by Dr. Futran. I have NEVER heard him use this descriptor in the 16 yrs. I've known him. That, was awesome. This is someone who gladly welcomes pictures of my tongue when few would prefer not to. I so appreciate this human.