my cancer


After looking at the results of my last PET scan, my new oncologist in St. Louis has decided that I should have an indefinite break from chemotherapy. Basically, he’s going to monitor me until the cancer starts growing again. I know I should be happy, but I can’t help but feel ambivalent.

The reason behind the break was my body’s reaction to the chemo regimen that my previous medical onco had me on since my mets were found last November. I was on a three-week cycle of Gemzar and Carboplatin and after three cycles a PET scan showed that it reduced the lesions in my lung, bones and lymph nodes by 80%. It was amazing! But after three more cycles, little had changed. My onco was hesitant to try something else since it worked so well at first, even when my platelet levels started plummeting after a single treatment. I was hospitalized twice and had multiple blood transfusions (10 units total,) and when I asked about other treatments and expressed my discomfort with getting so many blood transfusions, she just continued with the same treatments. At least I think she did, since she never discussed any dose reductions or anything like that with me. I got to the point where I was getting one tx every five weeks.

I was really concerned that not getting my full chemo cycle meant that my treatments were no longer effective. My PET scan in June corroborated my fears. Virtually nothing had changed (except perhaps a very teensy shrinkage.) I wanted to stop the treatments, but my onco said no and that she might consider giving me a break in September. By the end of August I lost faith in her and went to the Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis for a second opinion. After talking to a new oncologist there I decided to fire my onco here in Peoria. I had another PET scan last week and as I expected, a weensy reduction, but the same lesions are still there.  To give my blood a chance to fully recover, my new onco has decided to take me off the chemo until the cancer starts growing again. He’s also trying to get me into a clinical trial for a breast cancer vaccine.

So yay, I’m not getting chemo for a while. Yay, I won’t be feeling like crap all the time (just sometimes.) Yay, I won’t be covered with bruises or taking Lasix to keep my legs from swelling, making cute shoes impossible. Yay, my blood levels will be strong again. But at the same time, even my inadequate treatments felt like it was keeping the cancer stable. Now we’re not doing anything.

My cancer is Grade 3, triple negative and just waiting until it’s on the move again scares the hell out of me. I wish I could celebrate like my husband and my friends, but I can’t.


6 thoughts on “Yay?

  1. Oh Acacia,
    This is really a shitty situation. On the one hand, your body physically might love the thought of a break in the action. On the other, and obviously more scary side, it has to be awful to feel like you are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the other shoe to fall. Damn stupid f*&%-ing cancer. Wish I could reach through this screen and give you a giant hug.

    • Me too darling! It was strange, but I had a really bad day yesterday. I felt like I was still on chemo even though it has been 6 weeks since my last tx. I’d forgotten how chemo can rise up again, even as it’s leaving my system. Pfft.

  2. I would be scared to be “doing nothing” too, but I don’t think giving your body a rest is nothing. You need strength to fight this beast. If you are not comfortable with the plan, though, there is nothing wrong with a second second opinion.

  3. Whoever coined the phrase “Battling Cancer” was so right. You are a soldier in a war, a very serious war with the enemy your own body. Every soldier who has been in a war zone knows that it takes its toll on the mind, body and spirit. Every once in awhile that soldier is granted some shore leave. A time to temporarily place the war on a back burner and rest and rejuvenate and get the mind, body and spirit strong again to face the next battle. The war isn’t over and it sure isn’t a time to celebrate. That comes later. The enemy is still there, lurking, scheming, plotting. However, your General (onco) seems to know what he is doing. Whereas you shouldn’t be expected to click your heels together in the air and run around like Julie Andrews singing “The Hills are alive”, use your shore leave to enjoy family, friends and life and build up your strength for the next battle. Give yourself permission to be happy during this small window in time, and when the General calls you back to battle go back refreshed, renewed and kick some cancer ass!
    Positive thoughts coming your way always!!! Love to you and Todd (and my boy Cooper!).

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