On Tuesday, I spent the afternoon at the beautiful Huntsman Cancer Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had a bone density test, mammogram, and exam. It is a HUGE relief getting this latest update. I live cautiously, always watching for signs of cancer recurrence. It’s a constant, daily worry that I place on a back shelf in my mind and move on with life. Each check up and test result eases the concern. I’m SO happy and thankful. I’ll elaborate below with more details, and end with a couple of links to uplifting messages.
|View Downtown Salt Lake City from inside Huntsman Cancer Center|
I started with a bone density test, DXA. The results were that I still have osteopenia--decreased bone density not to the point of osteoporosis. My best score was -1.2 and my worst score was -2.3. A T-score of -1.0 or above is normal bone density. A T-score between -1.0 and -2.5 means you have low bone density or osteopenia. Below -2.5 is a diagnosis of osteoporosis. (Bone Density Exam/Testing - National Osteoporosis Foundation (https://www.nof.org/patients/diagnosis-information/bone-density-examtesting/).
The mammogram was next (not fun!), and all looked normal. (I had a breast diagnostic ultrasound in December, and that also came back as normal. ) After the mammogram, I met with the doctor. I told her that I’ve been extra cautious, missing out on things that looked fun, worried that I might break a bone and have another long recovery like when I broke my pelvis in June 2015. That took 6 months to heal. I had two opportunities this winter to go snow tubing with the teenagers at church, and both times, I just watched, thinking it wasn’t worth the risk. My wonderful doctor said to live life-- there’s always some risk, but not enough risk to not enjoy life. I’m looking forward to some tubing next winter!
The first week of May, I'll be 5 years out from my diagnosis, which is how the medical community seems to measure survival rates. February marked four years from completion of treatments, which seems like a better way to measure how long one has been cancer free. I'm very thankful. Treatment wise, in November they changed my hormone blocker from Tamoxifen to Arimidex. Every 6 months I got an injection of Prolia to help my bone strength. Daily I take Vitamin D3 2000 and Calcium 1200--and just learned that the calcium should be broken into 600 mg twice a daily. That's the end of the medical update. Now onto the uplifting part.
Last weekend was General Conference, when we have a worldwide broadcast to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is an uplifting weekend that happens
twice a year. While I was listening, Elder Jeffrey Holland shared a message comparing life with a choir, " Songs Sung and Unsung ." He talked about how important every member of the choir is, and how valuable our individual talents are to the richness of the choir. He referred to the song, “There is Sunshine in my Soul Today,” and how at times in our lives it is hard for us to sing, and sometimes, there are experiences that are so sacred, so dear to our hearts, that words cannot describe what we feel in our hearts. As he was speaking, I reflected on the “choir” that I am a part of, especially as I was going through cancer treatments. Every prayer, text, email, note, kind word, deed, and act of service touched my heart so deeply. The love that was expressed through countless individuals resulted in what I imagine the heavenly choirs of angels must sound like. I still can’t reflect on my experience without becoming teary eyed with gratitude and awe for the lessons I learned from so many angels. It’s too dear and tender to share as a brief comment in a Sunday school class. I keep it in my heart and reflect on the difference so many people made in my life at a time when I needed a choir singing all around me.
As we celebrate this week before Easter, I'm singing my favorite gospel choir song, "Oh Happy Day." I celebrate Jesus Christ and His gift to all of us. Because of Him, we will all live again. Because of Him, we will see and be with those we love again. Because of Him, we can feel of His love, support, and strength as we walk with Him during all of life’s adventures. Because of Jesus Christ, we have a pattern to follow. He provided the way for us to return home to our Heavenly Parents. He is the Prince of Peace. Oh Happy Day!