I got some pretty dreadful news just before treatment number twelve. My doctor wanted me to have a thirteenth treatment. I was incredibly disappointed. The goal I'd been striving for for so long had been moved! Emotionally, I didn't know how I could face another treatment. It felt like a cruel joke.
Writing it out helped me to deal with the blow.
Sent: Monday, Mar 3, 2014 at 7:18 AM
I so wish I could report that today is my last chemo day. It was supposed to be! I found out on Friday that it is not. [My oncologist] wants me to have a thirteenth treatment, to make up for the skipped oxaliplatin in treatment #3. "Twelve of oxaliplatin is the standard of care, even if there are some skips along the way," she said. So. Thirteen treatments for me. If it goes as planned, my last treatment will be on St. Patrick's Day.
Livers...wow. Those things are temperamental! Or maybe it's just mine. Also, my blood is not good. Not good! What to do? Last week, I got three infusions of saline, three neupogen injections, and two infusions of iron. All this to get me ready for today's treatment. The hydration seems to be the reason my liver enzymes went down (yay!) according to last Wednesday's lab report. Doc said to "Keep up with the apples though--you never know."
Every two weeks I was asked the same exhaustive list of questions. "Any pain? Any fevers? Mouth sores? ...and on and on. When the nurse got to the part about "numbness or tingling in hands or feet", I answered an enthusiastic, "Yes!"
She peered at me sideways over her clipboard, then asked, "Is it more than a couple times a day?"
Me: It's almost constant now.
Nurse: Are you taking your blah-blah-blah (drug name)?
Me: What? No. What is that?
Nurse: It's a drug that will help to stop neuropathy
Me: [blank stare]
Nurse: You filled the prescription.
Me: I did? Oh. OHHHHHhhhh. [light bulb] Is that the stuff that had "May cause suicidal thoughts" as one of the side-effects?
Me: Yeah, I threw that away.
Nurse: You threw it away?
Me: I didn't want to risk it. Cancer is enough, who needs suicidal thoughts on top of that? I'm almost done with chemo. Does it even matter now?
Nurse: The chemo drugs will stay in your system for up to four months after the last treatment. Your neuropathy could be permanent. This drug can help. I'm going to see if you have any refills, and then you take it, OK?
Me: Um. OK? I guess. I'll take it.
The drug referred to above was gabapentin. I tried it for a few days, but it made me incredibly drowsy. Driving while on that was out of the question. I had to stop taking it; it was making my ability to function worse, not better. Into the trash it went.
After sending off the blast-o-gram to update my friends and family, Patrick and I left the house for treatment twelve at the clinic.
Ten days after that, we received the biggest shock yet. My oncologist would utter the words, "I think you might be cured." We would find out later that the miserable cancer had tricked us all, but at the time we felt like we owned the moon.