Update – The Swollen Nodes

I posted earlier this year about my CT Scan results not being great. I set an appointment with my general practitioner earlier in January. Since then, I’ve gone through several follow-ups, and they found abnormal cells in my cervix, which hopefully explains why those lymph nodes were swollen in my scan – they were fighting off these new cells.

I had those cells frozen, using Cryotherapy. Literally, they put a tool inside of me, froze me for 3 minutes, rest for 3 minutes, and then re-freeze again for 3 minutes. The second round wasn’t as painful, all the cells were killed during the first round. I’ll have a follow up in 3 months, but this procedure has a 90-95% success rate.

I’ve been healing for the last 3-4 weeks. It’s a pretty routine procedure; I drove myself there and home, no fasting, no prep. However, it’s affected my spirits much more than I thought.

This condition is common in women who went through menopause – which I did when elected to take protective drugs during chemo. It’s also common in people who have immune deficiencies – which I did when my immune system was destroyed by chemo. I’ve had to carry extra “supplies” with me this entire time, reminiscent of my colostomy bag.

Since the procedure, I’ve had several dreams (nightmares) where I had a colostomy bag again. In all occurrences, it was leaking. I was re-experiencing the horror of seeing my human waste saturate the sticky bandage on my stomach, the sting of having stomach acid sit on and erode flesh, and the panic of not knowing where to get more supplies.

Old memories since have haunted me, specifically one of the first times I went back home to Lincoln after surgery. I hadn’t quite gotten the routine of managing my colostomy supplies, and early one Saturday morning I had a catastrophic leak. With no pharmacies in Lincoln carrying supplies, I had to jump in my car with a roll of paper towels and drive an hour to Omaha to my parents house. By the time I got there, my bag wasn’t even stuck to my skin any more because the bandage had gotten so saturated. I had wads of paper towel held to my stomach to collect the constant stream of shit spewing from my stomach. I knew my parents were out of town, but we hadn’t realized the garage pad on the house had run out of batteries. Frantic, I ran around the house testing all the locked doors, before having to punch a hole in the front door screen to get in.

By that time, my waste was uncontrollable. I had shit running down my body, soaking my shoes as I ran from the back of the house to the front.


This recent minor procedure put me in a situation where I just feel sick again, my body is failing, and my own cells are trying to destroy me. I wonder if I hadn’t had cancer, if I would have had this either. If the side effects from chemo didn’t align to cause this abnormality.

Although I’m only 3 years out from finishing treatment, it feels like a world away. Then things like this happen, and cause me to question if my body will ever be recovered.

My general practitioner follow up is in June, where they will repeat a pap. My next oncologist appointment is in July, where they will have me do an MRI to track my nodes. The timing works out well; if these new cells where the problem, and my pap is clean, my nodes should return to normal.

If my pap is clean, and they have’t returned to normal size, or worse, grown, that might be a problem.


Author: Clarissa A.

The older I get, the less I know.

3 thoughts on “Update – The Swollen Nodes”

  1. Hey Enforcer! I’ve read your post twice and my initial responses range from inappropriate potty humor to meaningless platitudes. So instead, I’ll just say that I think your reactions are completely normal to a very complicated situation. Of course you are having these feelings and questions, how could you not? Every medical issue is amplified when the rat bastard cancer is involved, forcing the “hurry and wait” scenarios. I appreciate your honesty and your vulnerability when sharing past experiences. May you find happy, distracting moments and activities to carry you through to the summer appointments. Much love to you!


  2. Claire: I understand what you are going through in many ways. Just never give up as help is coming just over the next hill with a little time. If you ever need a talk you know how to get ahold of me. Until you have gone or are going through this it is hard to explain to others. Just know I am here and will be here for you always. Love you, Uncle Jeff

  3. Hi Claire. I’m just catching up on all my emails for the past month and came across this update. I’m hoping that by now you are feeling a little less anxious. I know it’s so hard to not be able to control what’s happening in your body. But try to let go of those things you can’t control. Do what you can to stay healthy and don’t take it out on YOU when tough spots hit. You are doing everything you can. Stress can take it’s toll on your health too. So while I know it’s silly to stay, ‘don’t stress.’ Do be upset. Do cry. Do yell. Do write this all down for us to read. But then treat yourself to something and be proud of how far you have already come. I know you probably don’t see it, but you’re pretty much amazing. Even in situations like the one you wrote about – you still managed to keep your head on straight and took care of it. Not everyone is capable of doing that even with simple things.

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