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"Dark Rendezvous"

I fought it for a while because of irrational prejudice, but I've finally embraced my photo-manip muse. ^_^ In my convalescence, I wanted to just do something fun and relaxing and I'm having a blast playing around with the stock on DeviantArt. Coming from a traditional artist background, I admit looking down at photo-manipulation as not a "true" art but I've since learned better! It takes the same artistic eye for composition, color and subject as any other medium and, of course, you have to be really comfortable with Photoshop. *grin* There are some amazing photo-manip artists out there and they have my utmost respect. I am nowhere near their level yet, but I'm gettin' there! :)

Here's my latest..."Dark Rendezvous" (<---Click for credit list)
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Some of my favorite photo-manip artists:

El columpio de la charca
by =ELENADUDINA on deviantART


the warmth
by =Villesgodgirl on deviantART


Fire Within Me
by =freaky665 on deviantART


Autumn wind...
by =moonchild-ljilja on deviantART

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On the road to recovery

Well, thank goodness that's over! Radiation definitely wasn't fun. I started my rads on 3/17 and was supposed to go for 12 days for neck and chest, and an additional five days for just the neck. I was only able to do the 12 days total - no boost for the neck. By the 26th, my throat was swollen; by the 28th, it was raw and incredibly painful. I could no longer eat and it hurt so much to even swallow...getting nourishment was a trial and for 10 days I lived on Ensure, yogurt and soup. Ugg.

My throat started feeling better last Friday and it was just bliss to sit down and eat a regular meal! ^_^ I'm now pretty much back to normal and I hope to continue rebuilding my health without any more setbacks! The only thing I have left before this cancer journey is over is to have my port removed. I meet with my oncologist on April 22nd and expect to have the go-ahead to get the port taken out the beginning of May.

To keep me entertained and distracted from my sore throat the last couple of weeks I've been playing Final Fantasy XIII, reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels and watching "True Blood", the show the Sookie books are based on. Lots of fun! I've also been embracing my photo-manipulation muse and generally just taking it easy. So nice to just relax for once!

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The mask

Well, after a lot of research, talking with the radiologist again, and soul-searching, I decided to go ahead with radiation. I convinced my doctor to lower the strength of the armpit rads to 20 gy, but I'm still doing 30 gy on the neck. Bottom line for me was I can't fret about something that may or may not happen 20 years down the road - I need to be focused on making sure the lymphoma is gone NOW. If I relapsed in the next couple months or years, I'd always kick myself for not doing rads.

Today was my day to get my mask made. I've read a lot of horror stories from people that this is a freaky process to go through if you are at all claustrophobic, which thank goodness I'm not. It is weird as hell, though. They have a hard perforated sheet of plastic that they immerse in hot water to make it pliable, and then they put it over your face, stretch it down as it molds to your features and strap it to the table you're lying on. You're held immobile while the plastic cools and then you do the CT scan so they can map out where to put the markers that will help orient the beams. It's not fun to be confined under the mask for 15 minutes, but it didn't bother me that much. The worst thing for me was since it was wet, drops of water occasionally dripped down my face and was really annoying. That won't happen again, since in subsequent uses, the mask will be dry. *grin*

I also had to have three tattoo dots done. *sigh* More permanent reminders of this journey, as if I could forget it. Thank goodness they aren't on my neck...they are at the bottom of my rib cage; left, right and middle.

So now that's done and I'm just waiting for the scheduler to call me and set up my actual radiation appointments. I assume I'll start next week. Three more weeks of fighting the good fight. :)

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Decisions, decisions

I met with the radiation oncologist on Friday to discuss the possibility of radiation treatment to mop up any lingering cancer cells, if there are any. He showed me my PET scans and went over the fields he wanted to target and told me what the possible side effects were.

Basically, at the beginning of chemo, I had activity in the neck, armpits and chest. After 2 cycles of ABVD and a mid-way PET, I just had activity in my neck. Two more cycles and my PET showed no evidence of disease (NED). My doctor wants me to radiate my neck (both sides) and my armpits. Risks for this could include, but not be limited to, the following:

Neck:
-Damage to the salivary glads, resulting in loss of taste and dry mouth.
-Damage to the teeth and gums.
-Damage to the thyroid, possibly resulting in hyper- or hypothyroidism or cancer.

Armpits:
-Damage to top part of the lungs
-Increase chances of breast cancer down the line by at least 15%.

Immediate side-effects are fatigue and sore throat for duration of treatment, plus a couple of weeks after. Duration would be 17 days, and radiation dose would be 30 gy total.

I told my doctor that I would think about it over the weekend and let him know on Monday if I was going to do it.

Man, I didn't realize how hard a decision this would be. I've flipped-flopped several times from yes to no.

On the one hand, radiation is, without a doubt, dangerous. You definitely don't want to do it if you don't have to. On the other hand, how do you know if you have to? Therein lies the rub - you (and your doctor) just don't know for sure. PET scans cannot see anything under a billion cells, so even a "clean" scan could be missing a few million cancer cells. Thus the radiation is insurance. Salvage treatment (treatment after relapse) is very harsh and if you can do anything to increase your chances of not relapsing, you should do it. In this instance, I apparantly already have an 80-85% chance that I've been cured with chemo alone, and radiation would increase that to 90-95%.

So do I gamble on the chance that I am already cured and forgo the dangerous radiation, or do I invoke the "insurance" and gamble on getting life-long problems and/or secondary cancers down the road?

AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

This is a very, very hard decision. I've talked with my friends and family, and done a ton of research, and I think I've come up with a decision, but I need to talk to my doctor about a couple of things first. I called him a couple times today but he didn't call me back. Hopefully I can get a hold of him tomorrow.

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"Doorway to the Land of the Sidhe"

Here's another piece that had been languishing undone on my hard drive for at least a year. I'm so glad to finally be completing these!

At dusk on Midsummer's Eve, a young woman has found the doorway to the realm of the Sidhe.

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Dress, hair, doorway and features painted in Photoshop; sky, hill, sword and skin are manipulated stock.
See her in my DeviantArt gallery for credit details.

On the medical front, I have an appointment this afternoon with an oncologist radiologist to see if radiation is recommended for my case and if so, how much. We'll see how that turns out. Other than wondering if I'll have radiation, I'm feeling pretty good. Three weeks out of chemo - whoo! :)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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"A World of Possibilities"

More art - whoot! :) I have about half a dozen unfinished paintings I stopped working on for one reason or another and this is one that has languished for about a year untouched. I'm very happy to say my muse struck and she is now done!

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My take on the classic "fairy sitting on a crescent moon"...what a world of possibilities she holds in her hands!

Her "wings" are built up from a photo of the Medusa Nebula. Model reference is tw1stedtruth-stock at Deviant Art.

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"Woodland Fae"

I'm trying to do at least one painting per month and I'm happy to say I'm two for two. *grin* Here's my newest piece, "Woodland Fae".

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Background is premade stock by Frozenstocks at DeviantArt. Model is the lovely Faestock, also at DA.

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Drum roll, please...

IT'S CLEAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I went to see my oncologist today and he told me my PET scan results are totally clean! SQUEEEEEEEEEEE! He's gonna have me see a radiologist to see if I should do some radiation, but I don't care if I have a couple weeks radiation - the main thing is CHEMO IS OVER! I am so relieved.

Huge hugs to everyone who walked on this journey with me and supported me. I love you all so much! Now I can start to rebuild my health and move my life forward! ^_^

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Another PET scan yesterday

Well, I had my PET scan yesterday to see if I can stop the chemo treatments and move on to radiation. I will find out the results tomorrow at my 2:00 doctor's appointment. *crosses fingers* I really hope it's clean because chemo is getting harder and harder each treatment. I'm also sick of PET scans. :/

In positive news, the weather here the last few days has been just beautiful - clear skies and 65 degrees; very spring-like. It really does help my mood to see the sun shining and to feel spring in the air! :)

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Another one down...whew!

Well, my eighth treatment is done and I only threw up twice. Whoo hoo! lol

I talked to my doctor today and I will have a PET scan the beginning of next week; if it is clean or very close to being clean, I will be switched over to radiation treatment. I'm not keen on radiation, either, but at this point it beats the socks off chemo! The initial thought is to do low dose radiation targeted on just the neck where the original nodes were. I'd go in for two minutes every day for two weeks. That's doable. I'd just go in first thing in the morning on the way to work.

I just love my wig to pieces, but it's showing some wear and tear from being worn and combed out every day. Tomorrow I have an appointment to take it in and get it washed and trimmed. I might also look for a "back up" wig that would be a little more fun - a red-head or something with a little more kick. We'll see! I've slowly but surly been clutter cleaning my room and have been able to sell some stuff on Craigslist, so I've got a little cash to play with. :)

Big hugs to everyone for their well wishes and healing vibes - love you guys! ^_^

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