I haven’t written in a long time. I was hoping it would be even longer. (Never would have been fine.) However…..my cancer has progressed and treatment is about to commence (a fancy way of saying “0h crap! This can can not be good.”) So, time for an update.
Some quick background might be helpful. I went to see my oncologist in mid-May. As she was doing her exam, we had this brief (and telling) conversation:
Doctor: Are you still planning to take students to England this year?
Me: Why yes…in just over two weeks.
Doctor: What date exactly?
I didn’t feel like this conversation was heading in a positive direction. It wasn’t. Turns out that my blood work up looked like an Etch a Sketch piece of artwork – the cell counts that were supposed to be going down were in fact doing the opposite – as were the ones that were supposed to be going up. (I never really liked playing with an Etch a Sketch.) My doctor didn’t appreciate the way this art piece was looking either and even less fond of my departure plans. We “compromised.” If I could demonstrate stability in a week – she would give me permission to go on the trip. Enter wheatgrass juice. (Yup…just what it sounds like.) A brief Google search suggested that it improves platelet counts. I began drinking it morning, noon and night. I have no idea if drinking grass really made a difference, but a week later my platelets were up and my bags were being packed. (It was a great trip by the way.)
I returned and the real action began. My counts were worse and it was time for some more tests – I’ll spare you the details – but let me just say that I think it’s time that doctor’s begin offering frequent flyer points as an incentive to show up. Next came the decision of which treatment to use to put this cancer into remission (since there is no cure at this point). Behind door #1 was aggressive chemo and immunotherapy. Behind door #2 was what is best described as chemo in a pill – one that specifically targets the cancer cells in my blood. I picked door #2. So….starting Friday, I begin taking three pills at the same time each day. (Did I mention that you have to wear gloves when you touch these pills?? Seriously?!) I’ll take them as long as they work. The current research shows most folks getting about five years of remission while on these meds. When they stop working…chemo is still an option…but we’ll be hoping for other treatments…or even better, a cure.
Sometimes people ask about my use of humor regarding my experiences with cancer. Here’s what I think: Cancer can steal a lot from you – peace of mind, a sense of healthiness, etc. But at some level I have to maintain some control. Humor has always been my best defense and I have no intention of allowing cancer to control it. Don’t be fooled though. I hate cancer. Having it sucks. It scares me. It makes me beyond sad and angry at times. But I have to take control where and when I can. So sometimes I laugh. (I was never good at whistling in the dark anyway.)
Does this medication have side effects? Yes. Do I know which ones I’ll experience. Nope. What do I need? Your acts of friendship for both me and my family. Cancer impacts the whole family. Your hugs, prayers, kind thoughts, good energy and willingness to pause for a moment on occasion and commit to “random acts of kindness” will always be welcomed by anyone who is living with a chronic illness or grieving a loss. My thanks in advance.