Top Ten Things People Talk About at the House of Chemo

in no particular order...

  1. How many sessions of chemo have you had?
  2. Are you doing radiation?
  3. Have you lost your hair?
  4. Diarrhea or constipation?  
  5. What's your diagnosis?
  6. What's your chemo regimen?
  7. Do you hate these new needles, or what? (The FDA just recalled our old ones - to make them safer for our healthcare providers) We all hate them, nurses and patients together.  It feels like they're pushing a dull stick into your port.  
  8. What surgeries/procedures have you had lately?
  9. It's freezing in here.  (It has to be cold in the room where they mix our chemo, so it's pretty much cold everywhere.  They have lots of blankets at the House of Chemo)
  10. How are your family/friends handling this?  How are you handling how your family/friends are handling this? (We do not talk about this in front of the rest of you. Cancer takes you to a place that no one else can follow.  Unfortunately.)  
  11. How come these magazines are from 2004?  (okay, that was eleven things)
Does this sound sad?  It's not, really.  Not most of the time.  You would be surprised at how much we laugh at the House.   We laugh about this being one of the only places on earth where you will discuss your bowel health with people you have never met before and not even think twice about it.  We laugh because anywhere else it would be rude to ask someone if they'd lost their hair, but here it's routine.  You make instant friends here, and you are delighted for them when they finish their final treatment.  They will come back and look for you when they have their blood checked, and you'll hug and kiss like long lost friends.  You'll talk with people you never would have looked at twice before.  Cancer is a bonding experience, and a great leveler of the playing field.  It knows no color, no socio-economic status.  It gets the pretty people and the not-so-pretty people; the young and the old.  It brings us together in ways we never could have imagined.  I thank God for the people I have met here; for what they have shared with me and for the prayers we exchange for one another.  For giving me opportunities on a regular basis to help someone who is having a harder time than I am.  For allowing me to open a door for someone, or to tell a first-timer that there's nothing to be afraid of when they sit down in that chemo chair; that it will be okay.  That we're all here to support one another.  That they are not alone.    

Is this boring for anyone else, or is it just me?

I know... I haven't done a blog post in a while.  Mostly because my cancer is not all that interesting to me, and I haven't been able to think of anything to write.  I'm mostly just getting on with life.  But... let's recap what has happened since my last post.

My second PET scan "showed significant reduction" in my cancer. Yay! Again... one of those things I should be happier about but can't really seem to work up the enthusiasm.  Yes, I am glad to have the good news.... but no I am not happy to have cancer.  Yes, I am not going to die any time soon unless I get hit by a bus... but no, this is never going away.  It's incurable.  Like a tattoo, I will carry it around with me for the rest of my life.  Unlike a tattoo, it will not sag and look ridiculous.  I guess there's something positive in that.

My epidural worked well... and now it's not working any more. I'll be calling the surgeon to get another one scheduled.  I'm trying to decide if I should do that now, or wait until it gets a little worse.  Talked to my oncologist, Dr. N yesterday, and he thinks we should wait a little bit, but not too long.  I don't want to be incapacitated again, but if I can stretch it out a bit more, I might want to do that.  I'm dragging my right foot again, and the neuropathy seems to be getting a bit worse. I'm going to give it another week and see where we are then.

I can't remember if I told you (chemo brain) that Dr. N reduced my Vincristine dose last time because of the pain from neuropathy.  Well, he did.  He asked me last week what I thought about bumping it back up, and I said we should go for it.   So we did.  (I love that he asks... I feel like I am an active participant in my treatment.) I had the chemo today, so we'll soon see what happens.  That may be a factor in my epidural and how long I wait to schedule it.

This Friday, David and I will go to Greenville to meet with Dr. S, who does stem cell transplants.  The plan is that I will go into remission from this treatment cycle, and then when I relapse again, we may do an autologous stem cell transplant.  That means that they will harvest my stem cells to use.  This will (may) happen at some unknown point in the future.  No one really knows how long my remission will last.  Dr. N says a year to 18 months would be a "good, long remission period" for me.  I'm hoping and praying that it's longer, but only God really knows.  It's hard to pray for God's will when you want him to cure you, but that's what I am doing.  I have to trust that He has a plan for me, and it's better than any plan I could come up with on my own.  I think David prays for a miracle.  That would be nice.  As long as it fits in with the plan.

I have been blessed.  I still have my hair, and according to Crickett, who is my sweet, sweet friend and stylist, it is not coming out.  So, I will invest in some hair color.  And then if it falls out, I'm gonna make her glue it back on.

I have also not been sick even once.  I have thought I might have felt it coming on a couple of times, but I popped one of the anti-nausea pills they gave me, and I felt fine.  I might pop one when I finish this post.  It's either chemo related nausea, or too many chicken wings.

That's the other thing.  I was looking forward to being slightly gaunt from chemo.  You know, just gaunt enough that people would say "You know, you could stand to gain a few pounds."  Not "Oh my gosh, are you SICK?"  Chemo chic, I call it.  Well, it's not happening.  Instead, I am now taking THREE drugs that increase my appetite or cause weight gain.  I have rolled right off of the Weight Watchers wagon and begun cramming food into my mouth with wild abandon.  (Hold on, let me unbutton my jeans..... ahhh... better!)

So... this Friday I am going to bite the bullet, march into Weight Watchers, lumber onto the scale and find out what the damage is.  Then, I am going to start tracking my points and start eating like a reasonable adult instead of a child locked into a candy store overnight.  I hope.

Focused prayer for:

  • no side effects from the increased dose of Vincristine
  • willpower to stick to WW
  • better results from the next epidural
  • my next blog post to be more entertaining (we could all use that)