I had been counting down the days until this day for three weeks. Last Tuesday I met with my oncologist to discuss the possibility of doing more chemotherapy or not. There are definitely pros and cons to doing more treatment, so my doctor took my specific cancer case to a Tumor Board, which is a collective group of doctors who evaluate my treatment plan and give their two cense. I image it would like the Knights of the Round Table … well, knights in white coats of course. 🙂 My doctor was also scheduled to do a pelvic exam to see if there was any noticeable signs of the tumor left and how my body was recovering from radiation treatment.
As you can imagine, I was super nervous and extremely anxious for the appointment! I had no idea what to expect, but apart of me really didn’t want to expect the worse even though I always tell people its the safest way to go. I had been pestering my oncologist about the chemotherapy decision for a months, so he knew I was a wreck coming into the appointment.
When my husband and I first arrive, we did the usual protocol: first I talked to the nurse who took my weight and blood pressure (which was good). Then my oncologist’s assistant came in to ask how I was feeling, how I am doing after radiation, and if I had any new symptoms, yadda yadda, and she leaves. Then my a few minutes later my oncologist walks in and announces:
“Three more rounds of chemo!”
Talk about ripping off the band-aid! He must have read my mind to know that I was not in the mood for mumbo jumbo. I just wanted to know!! Where, there I had it.
He went on to explain that after consulting with the Tumor Board, the decision for more chemotherapy was unanimous. Since my tumor was extremely aggressive and I responded so well to chemotherapy the first time around, there is no reason not to do one last treatment so we can know for sure that it killed every single living cancer cell in my body. The radiation therapy killed my tumor, but the treatment was only focused in abdomen and pelvic area. If any cancer cells floated to different parts of my body, they would dodged the radiation. And since there were cancer cells found in my upper adominal lymph nodes, we knew that the cancer was already spreading.
So, these last rounds of chemo are the nail in the coffin. The last blow to the disease. I’ll never have to look over my shoulder and wonder if we got it all. And as my oncologist sweetly put, “Yes, it’s another six weeks, but this will be a little blip of time out of your big, big life.” That statement almost had me in tears, and I had come close to tears already.
My blood tests came back normal, and yesterday was my first round of chemotherapy. I was back at my old stomping grounds, the chemo lounge, and it was nice to talk to the nurses who were just strangers to me six months ago. Now it feels like we’re old pals. I knew the drill, and I had packed a book, a magazine, my iPad, bottled water, some snack and my cell phone. Since I didn’t get much sleep the night before I just slept most of the time. One of my best friends and “surrogate” sister (as we call each other) brought me lunch and visited for a while. And once she left, I was pretty much done!
I am so thankful that I know what to expect this time around and how to handle it. Today is the first post-chemo day which means I am still hopped up steroids and feeling pretty good. Those will start to wear off tonight, and tomorrow is when the tiredness should set in.
I asked my oncologist, “When do people start feeling back to normal after they are done with chemo?” He said this happens usually three or four months, but if I commit to be active around 30 minutes a day while going through treatment I can expect the best results. It’s very hard to stay active, but I am determined to do it this time!
Wish me luck on my last six weeks! My last day of chemotherapy is …..drum roll ….. Thursday, June 12th!! Time certainly did NOT fly by during my six weeks of radiation, so I am hoping things go quicker for me this time. It’s safe to say the chemo will hit me harder this time since my body is still recovering from radiation, so I’m prepared for feeling more tired. I will most likely lose my hair again, which I have come to terms with, and if I do it will probably be right after my second treatment in three weeks. More wig shopping for me! 🙂
There are times that I cry and feel sad in my bed late at night, but I suck it up and tell myself I am going to go on. I replay the final moments in ‘Titanic’ and hear Leo’s voice in my head (swoon!): “Listen, Rose. You’re gonna get out of here, you’re gonna go on, and you’re gonna make lots of babies, and you’re gonna watch them grow. You’re gonna die an old woman warm in her bed, not here, not this night. Not like this, do you understand me?” Hey, everyone has their guilty pleasures, right?!? ‘Titanic’ is soooo one of mine (yes, I did see the release in 3D!). Then I see the camera moving past all of the frame photos by [old] Rose’s bed of her as an actress and in front of an airplane, and finally the photo of her riding on a horse on the Santa Monica Pier (Gasp! Just like she promised Jack!).
As always, thank you for sending your positive thoughts and prayers my way. I get stronger and stronger every day, and I cannot wait to put this cancer stuff behind me! It will always be apart of me and now defines who I am, but I also know that bigger things are now in store for my life. Bigger things that I can’t even imagine right now, I just feel that they are there, waiting for me. And, we WILL go on!