“Toxic” and “Biohazard” – and that’s the treatment!

Spoiler Alert:  Treatment is WORKING!

I am now five weeks into treatment.  The first day started with swallowing three pills from a medicine container with two color coded labels.  The bright yellow one said “toxic.”  The bright orange indicated the contents should be treated as a “biohazard.”  Comforting.  (For those who don’t know me well…read that last statement as sarcasm.)  Literally with trembling hands, I shook three of those babies into the cap (just couldn’t do the recommended latex gloves)…and threw them back like a shot (of milk, of course).  Went to bed with the medication bottle for nausea within reach.  And so it continued….every night for the past several weeks.

My body has tolerated the medication well.  (I glow green at night….but it beats the cost of a nightlight.  Kidding!)  I’ve had a few blips along the way.  For example, something (I can’t pronounce or spell it) in my white blood cells went to zero – not a good thing.  I was told to limit contact with people and definitely stay away from sick people – so easy when you are a teacher. I only taught two classes (didn’t breathe the whole time) and then got the all clear when I went in for more tests a few days later.  My overall white cell count is still high and my immune system compromised – but throughout I have felt good and still haven’t cracked open that container of pills for nausea.  (Fingers-crossed) Probably the weirdest thing I’ve experienced is that I bruise and bleed easily. Just yesterday I went out to cut the grass. When I came back in I looked like I had just competed in a WWE cage match.  Cuts and bruises in abundance.  Only other explanation is aggressive crabgrass…but I’m thinking not. Weird.

Some very good news to report!!  Theresa and I met with my oncologist Friday.   Most importantly, the treatment is working!!  My lymph nodes have been shrinking noticeably. My blood numbers are showing a good response. And….the results of my bone marrow extraction (always ask for morphine!) confirmed that the cancer is attached to my 13th chromosome  – a really good thing – considering some alternatives I was worried about. Bottom line is that this is a positive indicator that my body should continue to be responsive to my current treatment for a long time.  It’s not a cure…but it is the best we can hope for right now.  We are celebrating progress.  They’ll continue to monitor me regularly….but I’m okay with that.

Finally…I want to again thank so many people for your ongoing support, prayers, good vibes, hugs, messages…and asking how I’m doing. Sometimes it can be awkward asking someone with a chronic condition about their current status. I know.  I’ve been there.  However, asking demonstrates your concern – and I think I can speak for most people I know who are living with these challenges – knowing that people care trumps any awkwardness.  If I don’t want to talk about it, I’ll usually keep it short – and I’ll still be thankful for your care.  Thanks also for your acts of kindness for my beautiful family.  Cancer, grief, and other chronic conditions impact everyone in a family and the length of time the challenge continues doesn’t decrease the need for support.  Again, my heartfelt thanks.