Chemo 2.14 and 2.15

Posted Aug 11, 2016 5:05pm

So many chemos. I think that as I write “2.14 and 2.15”. Dang.

I have so many things to write about, and I have no idea where to start. I say that just in case this post turns into a huge, disconnected ramble. I feel like that’s how I talk most days, anyway.

I just got home from chemo 2.15, which is crazy. And I still have hair, ****! The rash has even improved, for the moment at least, so that makes me feel good. Maybe it’s because those two new creams are working their magic. Maybe it’s because I’ve had an extra week in between treatments. Maybe it’s because dragons love tacos. (Maybe it’s because you’ll only get the joke about dragons loving tacos if you have a small child who likes the book, “Dragons Love Tacos”.)

About three weeks ago, a few days after chemo 2.14, I started to get a weird pain in my lower right side. Nothing crazy. Just noticeable, like a pain rating of “1”. I had an appointment for my Neulasta shot that Monday anyway, so I called my doc on the way to Hershey to let them know about said pain. They were awesome and saw me without an appointment, without charging my insurance, without a single problem. Doc felt around my abdomen, but no concerns. Her recommendation was to take some Miralax and keep them updated. So I did, and of course had diarrhea and stomach pains because of that, and the right-side pain was still there. By Tuesday evening, the pain was like a 4 or 5. I called Wednesday and said, “Look, I’m not taking Miralax today because I have to work and don’t have time to spend two hours in the bathroom.”

I had an ultrasound that Thursday, which showed no problems, but my doctor wanted to make sure everything was OK. So, my PET scan, which was supposed to be the end of August, was moved to the following Monday. August 2.

Meanwhile, the pain got better, then went away. I talked to my buddy Alec, who has been through chemo, and he said that broccoli always messed his digestive system up. Funny enough, I had eaten TONS of broccoli the week before, left-over from Xander’s party. Pant-loads of broccoli. Boat-loads of broccoli. With hummus.

The PET scan was stable. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!….I would totally insert emoticons at this point, but the last time I tried to do that, they were published as gobbledegook.)

Cancer numbers were also stable. the CA9-19 was still normal last I checked! So, we fondly named my pain “the broccoli pain”. I have tried cooked broccoli since then, with no problems, by the way.

Next step – meet with the specialist at Fox Chase again. Stable is good, but my other cancer number (CEA) is/was still elevated. My doc today was saying that there are some options – maintenance again, in some form or another…or even take a break for a few months. I am not sure how I feel about that. (That’s a lie. I feel scared.) Regardless, I had this treatment today, and one more in two weeks, and then my appointment at Fox Chase.

I also started to see a therapist. It’s about time. I’ve only had one appointment, but I have high hopes. I am totally open to strategies and what-not to help keep my mind-body “well”, because, honestly, that’s where this battle is at this point.

So, these are all pretty good things.

But then, also since chemo 2.14, a dear friend’s father was diagnosed with a cancer similar to mine and has passed away. Within three weeks. I don’t want to say too much about his situation, because it is not my business or responsibility to do that, but all of that has had me in such a weird funk. I understand that his situation was different from mine, but it feels all too similar. And I can’t wrap my brain around it. And I feel guilty. Guilty because it isn’t fair that I can get better, but he didn’t even have a chance to try. Guilty because I find myself making his situation about me, when his family – my friend! – has lost such a wonderful person. Guilty because I can’t go to his services because I’m hooked up to stupid chemo. And you’d think I’d know what to say to my friend in this situation. Right? Because I’ve “been there”, right? My dad died from cancer 21 years ago as of yesterday, and I live with cancer, so I should just know. But I don’t. And I can’t fix it or make it go away or bring him back or cure my own body. Or have any control.

Speaking of control. That’s a whole other issue, and probably one of the reasons I’m going to a therapist. I’ve decided that I need to accept this “new me”. The Maria who has no control over anything, really. I mean, I can pretend I have control by being psychotic about cleaning the dishes in the sink, or controlling my diet, or whatever. But, really, I can’t control these crazy external forces, or other people, or even my own feelings. I can control how I respond and react, though, and how I THINK. For example, I have been feeling super-jealous lately. Mostly of Tim, mostly because he is training for some race that I want to care about, but I just don’t. Probably because I want to run it. I want to have energy and be active and sweat now and again. (And don’t even dare say things like, “Oh, you will run again” or any of that crap because it’s been two years. Two. Years.) I’m jealous of friends having their second babies. I’m jealous of people with hair. Of smooth skin. Of things I took for granted.
I’m also grateful for all of these loved ones I am jealous of, because even when they see the worst of me, they still love me (right?). And I’m grateful for what I CAN do. I can still do yoga, and probably better than Tim. I can walk, for a pretty long while. I can work, I can play, I can speak Spanish, I can travel, I can cook and eat and see and hug and appreciate beauty and I don’t have any physical pain and I can even still do one pull-up. All of that still isn’t good enough for this crazy perfectionist, but this “new me” is a work in progress. And maybe if I change the way I think and remember all the “can-dos”, maybe the “can’t-dos” will seem less significant. Or at least easier to swallow.

And really, isn’t everyone constantly finding their “new self”? I mean, really. This crazy adventure we call life is just a series of changes, is it not?

And what is my goal here? To raise Alexander. Do I need to run a race to do that? Probably not.

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