Another Post Chemo Update

I hate having a week off between sets of chemotherapy.  I understand the logic behind the “rebound week;” it gives my body a chance to prepare for the next onslaught.  It is a week buffer that gives my poor cells a chance to attempt formation without the destruction of the toxins pouring into my body.  Mentally, it supposedly gives me a week of feeling well between treatments so that I can be ready for the next two weeks of feeling like crap.  Sometimes, it even works and I forget that I am sick until it is time to go back.

For me, rebound week is a mental psych out.

When I woke Friday morning, I told myself I didn’t want to go to chemotherapy.  I hate going and sacrificing my body to torment in the name of a hopeful remission.  This week felt especially bleak to me since my week off wasn’t full of the ease it normally is.  I actually was just as sick as I had been on chemo weeks.  Food didn’t want to stay down, I was nauseous a lot and, to make things worse, the abdominal pain that had been gone reared its ugly head.  The pain, for the record, was terrible: sharp and quick, it had me doubled over at work with tears in my eyes.  Had it not faded away and become just a dull ache I could tolerate, I would have dragged myself to the emergency room.

Once I forced myself to the doctor’s office, the appointment was pretty standard: fill in a symptom sheet, get weighed –I am putting on weight, drat!–, vitals taken.  Nothing out of the norm.  This week, I met with both the nurse practitioner and my physician.  Again, while I really like the nurse practitioner, Linda, I prefer meeting with Dr. Brooks.  He makes me feel more confident in the methods we are using and she just makes me more confused.  Meeting with them both, however, is rare since they are usually so busy.  The pattern has been that I meet with the good doctor on my first week back and Linda the second.  I was a little thrown off by seeing them both.

The news this week was mixed.  They believe my insurance might pay for the bulk, but not all, of my Lupron shot.  My fingers are crossed as the shot is more expensive this way than it was through the pharmacy.  I really want to hold on to the hope that we will see through this and have a family of our own the old fashioned way.  Without the shot, there’s really little to no hope of that; my eggs won’t survive the chemotherapy.

Apparently, I was also supposed to go last Friday for a biopsy.  Did I?  No.  Why?  Well a flaw in their computer system prevented the scheduler at Dr. Brooks’ office from setting it up with the hospital.  I was never scheduled to have the biopsy, and therefore, never went.  I hadn’t called to follow up on the second biopsy because I thought the insurance company was putting up a stink.  Most companies will permit a biopsy to confirm a diagnosis, but this was for something else entirely.  The doctor wanted a bigger sample of tumor –take it all I say—to test what chemotherapy the tumor wouldn’t respond to and to do further testing on the tumor to see if I qualify for studies.  All I want is to feel better, so I’ll do anything.  Unfortunately, that means missing a day of work this week and feeling extra horrible for chemo this week.  Thursday I go for the biopsy, which means being really sore on Friday when I go in for chemotherapy.  I can hardly wait (read sarcastically).

Also, this taught a valuable lesson: if they mention further testing and you don’t hear back from them in a timely manned, call and confirm.

After meeting with Dr. Brooks and Linda, chemo itself was actually not a horrible event.  Milo sat with Malika and me for a while and we played a trivia game.  He bought us lunch and stayed with us while we ate before heading home to work on some cleaning and homework.  Malika and I have settled into a pattern of chatting and fooling around online during the sessions, which seem to go much faster now that I bring plenty to do.  I still miss Carla, the chemo nurse, who is on vacation in the Mediterranean.  I hope she’s having a great trip.

Unfortunately, this weekend didn’t go as smoothly as past chemo weekends had.  While it wasn’t near as horrible as my first experience with chemo, it ran a close second.  I managed to keep food down, but the nausea was incredible and the lethargy was off the chart.  It started much earlier than normal; right after chemo finished in fact.  Normally, we attribute a little bit of the nausea to how badly the chemo constipates me, but that always starts on Saturday and this week we found the right combination of medications to fight that particular issue.  More than anything, I wanted the nausea and abdominal pain to go away, but it wouldn’t.  I tried to fight through it and enjoy Pima Community College’s Trunk-or-Treat, but when we finally returned home I was even more drained and my stomach was worse yet.  I did, however, make it through a trip to the grocery store this morning; I’ll call this a win.

I still won’t be looking forward to chemo on Friday or the biopsy, which they better knock me out for this time, on Thursday, but I will press on.  As Milo likes to point out, I am doing this to live.  I definitely want to live and have fifty years with my amazing husband, who couldn’t be more supportive through all of this.  I am truly blessed that he is still by my side despite it all.  Now I hope that we have the outcome we both want so all the struggling will be worth it.

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Snippets

Whenever I am near a computer or a notebook, I start jotting down thoughts and feelings I have about being a “cancer patient.”  I assume that at some point I will turn these little bits and pieces into larger blogs.  These assumptions prove, most times, inaccurate. They sit and wait for me to come back to them, but mostly the emotion is out and I no longer have need of it.  Yet, I decided I wrote them so I might as well share them.  So, in other words I’m going to give you a bunch of random thoughts and tell you it is a blog.

Enjoy!

***

In both nursing school and my education classes, I learned that a person should never be identified by a disease or condition.  They are a person that has something.  By this logic, I am not a “cancer patient” but a person who happens to have cancer.  While I never had trouble with that before now (I have a cold, I’m not a cold patient), I catch myself often thinking I am “cancer girl.”  I have said it before, but cancer is taking over my life.  It is as much alive as I am, taking away the bits and pieces of myself I would once use to identify me: soccer player, nurse, wife, lover…etc.  Lately, I am patient.  On good weeks, I might squeak in wife and lover.  On bad ones, I’m lucky if I can consider myself a decent employee.  My husband has become the nurse; my good friends have become caregivers.  I have become cancer girl that lies on couch.  I hate those days, because as much as I wish to do more I am just physically unable and it drives me crazy.

***

I often read news articles and blogs to start my morning.  One particular blogger, Alice from Fertile Action, happens to cover cancer topics as they relate to her life.  Recently, she commented that during her cancer, she used to want people to stop whining about the small things.  She wanted to scream, “Shut up! I have cancer!” at people who complained about broken nails and the heat outside.  I know her feelings; in fact, I’ve caught myself saying to people, “Really? I have cancer and I whine less than you about things.”  Mind you, I have a whole blog to whine in and most people don’t take to the net to whine about the heat.  It doesn’t stop me from wishing people would just stop complaining about the unimportant things and move on.

Cancer has forced me to change my perspective slightly.  I honestly don’t care about the heat or cold; they still suck, but really they won’t kill me so I should stop complaining.  It’s opened my mind to new things; I want to try acupuncture and alternative treatments to work along side the chemo.  What have I got to lose?  Money? That won’t help me if I don’t make it.

It’s also forced me to be more spontaneous.  When people complain that they may have to put off a trip to next year, I want to shake them and tell them they might not have a next year.  Take it now and worry about the credit card later.  There’s always later for Discover; trips and tomorrow are promised to no man.  This isn’t my normal mindset –and I will confess that I am not exactly living up to this myself.  I just am tired of hearing when and someday.  My when is “When I beat cancer” and my someday, I hope, is years and years from now.  I just hope I get to see both when and someday.

***

I know I keep promising a blog with more specifically graphic and wonderful details of how much having cancer sucks, but daily life just keeps happening and I don’t always get to the blog.  Some days, I’m busy sitting around using television and music to distract me from how I am feeling.  I don’t want to think about stage 4 cancer anymore, or whether I might not be here a year from now.  I don’t want to think about my husband of a year being a widower before our lives together even really had a chance to begin.  We can all die any minute, but my demise lingers before me like a promise rather than a distant threat.  I don’t like it at all.

Add to it the fact that several (and by several, I mean at least five) of my friends, who of course are all friends on Facebook, are pregnant and it’s like a giant torture fest.  While I’m happy for each of them, especially those that are welcoming their first little bundle of joy and poop, I’m also insanely jealous.  I’ll admit it; I’m a giant five-year-old about ready to throw a tantrum over it.  I want it now —clearly I learned nothing from Willie Wanka and his umpa lumpas.  The frustration for me isn’t like that of your average newlywed that is trying to get pregnant; I’m not even allowed to try to conceive (not that I could even get pregnant despite the desire.)  I am fighting for my life and the rest of my life just has to be on hold for it.  I’m going crazy!

While walking to Milo’s work the other day –we live about a mile away—I started writing a note to him in my mind.  I realized, as I was dictating this note to the oblivion, that the real issue with wanting a baby is legacy.  I want to leave something behind besides a blog people will someday abandon and some savings.  Like all people, I want to leave my mark on the world in a way that might change things for the positive.  A baby is a lasting legacy of genes, family and love.  I want that with my husband.

In other words, I don’t want to someday be forgotten.

My husband is an amazing man.  He is kind, generous, friendly, and loving…everything I could want in a partner.  Milo is going to be an incredible father; I have no doubt about that.  I married him because I knew I had not only found my other half, but a man I would be fortunate to start a family with.  I told him as much when we were dating.  By not being able to start a family with him, I feel as if we both are being deprived…and some poor baby hanging in the ether.

Yet, as much as I love him, I think my biggest fear is that he will forget me.  Old memories, for Milo, are distant stories of which he can recall bits and pieces.  Without his friends’ assistance, he often forgets details and shrugs off encounters.  I don’t want to be a distant memory, a “I was once married to this person.”  If we had a baby together, he’d be able to pass on the memory of me, his wife, to someone else.  I’d be remembered.

Who really wants to be forgotten that badly?

I realize that this all sounds a bit selfish and one-sided. Maybe someday I will finish the letter I began on that walk and you can see there’s more to it than that.  Right now, I am just analyzing myself as best I can.

And I still want a baby.

Back to my Fiction Roots

I used to write fiction.

Long before nursing, before even my education degree, I wrote fiction. It started in high school and continued through college on fanfiction sites for different television shows. As lame as it might appear, I loved writing. It gave voice to the many characters in my head and a stage to my dreams. They always say write what you know, but I didn’t. I didn’t know a thing about truly being in love, being married or having a family. I knew my fair share about pain, could research diseases and other complications to throw at characters and just wrote. The rest came, along with some acclaim from my readers. I miss writing fiction and, right now, I hate that what I am writing about I finally know. I know suffering through a disease first hand.

Today, I’m returning to fiction to give me an outlet to some of my fears. I present for you my first short fiction piece in years. For those not familiar with my fiction, single italics words are emphasized but longer passages and sentences are flashback.

 

He missed her.

Sundays had been their day together; the one day they would sleep in or just lounge around in bed. They would cuddle and kiss, talk of their future and for just a little while forget there was a world outside their home. After her diagnosis, Sundays had changed. She’d often sleep in longer than he would or wake in pain. He hated seeing her suffer; it gnawed at him and he wanted to fix it, but there was nothing he could do. Ever her hero, he couldn’t save her from her own body as it slowly killed her from within.

Now, he hated Sunday. The entire day was spent alone in their home and the memories would haunt him. They hadn’t had long enough to be together.

Rolling towards her side of the bed, he rested his hand against her pillow, cold and untouched. He could almost imagine her there, curled up on her side with her hands tucked beneath her cheeks. It was how she fell asleep at night, how he found her in the morning as he rose for work. He had always done his best not to rouse her while getting ready, but it was difficult. She always faced his side of the bed when she slept and the second the light went on in the bathroom she would stir.

At that moment, he’d do anything to have that trivial worry again. To look into her sleepy blue eyes as she mumbled good morning before turning away and returning to sleep.

“I miss you,” he murmured to her pillow, hand falling to the mattress, “so much.”

He could still hear her voice as she told him she loved him, the melody of her laughter still floated on the air in their home. When he closed his eyes, he could imagine the expression her face always displayed when he was near. She radiated love at him, so many people had said as much, and he always absorbed it. His love was just as plain to the world. Why had the universe deemed it necessary to take it away?

With a sigh, he swiped at a rogue tear as it rolled down his cheek then pushed himself into a sitting position. His gaze landed upon their wedding picture perched on her dresser. She had asked him to move her favorite of the pictures into their room towards the end.

“It makes me smile to remember that day,” she had explained at the time, her voice trembling.“It was a good moment and the picture comforts me.”

He hadn’t had the heart to put it away yet, but seeing it every morning upon rising from bed made the days seem so long and lonely. That happy moment when he was about to kiss his new wife was overshadowed by the emptiness of their home, their bed. She was gone now and nothing he could do would bring her back.

His hand gripped the frame tightly, staring down at the couple in the photo. It was easy to lose himself in that time, before there had been cancer and chemotherapy. Before her hair started to fall out and the weight dropped off her bones in a time of innocence where they had planned for fifty years together, babies…a future that had been crushed by one word: cancer. He had promised her that they still had fifty years; she was going to be fine. It was a promise he knew he couldn’t keep, but he refused to give voice to his fears. There wasn’t a chance he could lose her as long as he believed that she would survive. Fifty years would come, as would their babies. He just had to believe.

“I’m sorry,” he told the smiling couple, placing the picture face down on the dresser. “I was wrong.”

He trudged through the apartment, stopping to greet his three cats good morning before flopping onto the couch. He’d get to breakfast at some point and start on the list of things he had promised himself he’d get done. There were demons to fight first; memories of her were everywhere: her things, her scent, even memories of times they shared. She haunted him, even at work. How many times had she pointed out they had married on that same college campus? How often had that brought joy to her as she walked across the same steps they were named man and wife? He had laughed at her silliness, but was touched that those moments had meant so much to her. Now, he’d given anything for one more kiss, one last hug…one more time together.

 

“The treatment isn’t working,” the doctor said, head hung low. He wouldn’t lift his eyes from the file on his lap. “We could do more chemo, keep it at bay and buy a bit more time to come up with a new plan…”

She ran her hand over her bald head, the fingers trembling with her effort to force back tears. Her hands were thin, skin pale. She had lost so much weight that she barely looked like herself anymore. It was clear that she was fading away bit by bit, even her sense of humor had tamed and her voice had lost some of its sparkle. “It’s been a year,” she told the doctor as if he didn’t know. “I’m tired,” she confessed.

“But we can buy time,” he pushed. Her eyes fell upon her husband in the corner. “What do you think, Monkey?”

“It’s not my decision to make…” he hedged, not wanting to be the one to tell her what to do. He would feel an immense sense of guilt if she pushed on and continued to suffer the way she had. This wasn’t life.

“Are you ready to be a widower?”

Blunt, that was his wife. Was he ready to lose her?

“I can’t watch you fade away anymore,” he admitted to her. “You’re so unhappy; I promised you wouldn’t suffer.”

“We made a good dent in the bucket list,” she added. “Could finish off a few last ones…”

He nodded, looking away before she saw the tears in his eyes.

“I’m done fighting, doctor,” she stated plainly. “This isn’t a life I have. I’m ready to throw in the towel. Are you?”

The doctor shook his head. “You’re just a baby…”

She shrugged. “Cancer isn’t biased. I’m not its youngest victim.”

 

He pounded the cushions beside him, fists denting the cloth. Why hadn’t he talked her into one more round? They could have prevent the tumors from growing and spreading; she would still be here beside him with bright, clear blue eyes trusting that everything would be fine. That they would have their fifty years together and a baby would be the next thing marked off her life’s list. She just had to fight and had needed him to push her! Of course she was tired; it was a difficult, uphill fight that left them both exhausted. If she has just held on a little longer…

 

“You know I am not doing this to hurt you, right?” she asked some days later. “I love you very much, but I can’t do this anymore, Monkey. I feel sick all the time, my hair doesn’t stand a chance against the chemo and I’m tired constantly. We can’t go anywhere because of treatments, work has pretty much given up one me…and I’m just ready to take what comes.”

“I know,” he replied softly, not meeting her eyes. “But you’re going to…”

“Die,” she finished for him. “I’m going to die, Monkey, and we both knew it was possible. We didn’t want that option, we fought it as best we could, but the truth remains that I am dying. I want to enjoy what time I have left.”

He nodded.

“Do you remember the promise I asked you to make me?” she replied.

“Which?” he questioned, sarcasm in his tone and a small grin on his face.

“Fair enough,” she laughed softly. “The one about dying at home with people I love around me.”

He nodded again. “I promise. You will die here.”

“Thank you.”

 

He never regretted a promise more. Knowing she died in their home ate at him. For the remainder of his life he would remember that her final moments had occurred in their bed.

 

Music played faintly from the radio, a mix of things from her eclectic iPod collection. One moment she be bobbing her head slightly to a rock song and the next tears would stream down her cheeks as a sappy, love-me-when-I’m-gone country song came on. Her eyes were closed, head covered in a bandana his niece had insisted she wear: purple with dancing monkeys. Their family waited in the other room, giving them some time alone.

“I wish I was the one that had to suffer this loss,” she told him suddenly. “You don’t deserve this. You already suffered a broken heart; it’s not fair.”

“I’ll be okay,” he promised her, cupping her cheek. “I love you bunches and bunches, Honeybunny.”

Her lips curved into a smile. “I love you too, Monkey, so very much.” Her voice hitched slightly as she choked back a sob. Their lips met softly in what would be their last kiss.

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?” he asked in disbelief.

“For loving and leaving,” she answered.

He was glad her eyes weren’t open, because he could no longer hold back his tears. “I better let the others in,” he stated, starting to rise from the mattress.

“Please don’t leave me,” she cried, clutching his hand. “I’m just…”

“No!” she insisted. “Please, I can’t be alone…”

He sat back down. “You won’t be alone in the end.”

She nodded, tears pouring down her pale cheeks. “I’m scared.”

“I know.”

A knock at the door interrupted them. “Can we come in yet?” he niece demanded impatiently.

He nodded and the family and friends poured in.

 

They talked and sang, tried to laugh though the mood was tense. The vigil didn’t last long, and she had told them it wouldn’t. In the end, she had needed more and more oxygen to feel as if her breathing wasn’t labored. Her eyes were harder and harder to open, her energy sapped. She was barely eating and drinking. On that last day, lying on her side of the bed with her favorite of the stuffed monkeys hugged to her side, they had all said goodbye. While the family sat, remembering good times she lay as if sleeping, the corners of her lips turned up into the semblance of a smile. When their wedding song finally came onto the radio, she mouthed the lyrics for a time until finally she was gone, her last breath hanging on the words “feels like home to me.”

He hadn’t been able to listen to the song since.

People always asked how he was holding up. Friends called and visited. Family members checked on him daily. He put up the best front he could, proving he was strong enough to get through day by day. Hadn’t he survived heartache before? He could do it again, even if it was harder this time. Even if he had never loved a woman the way he had her. He had to continue on, he had promised her he would. He’d finish the parts of the bucket list they hadn’t together in memory of her. Someday, he’d go on to marry again and have children, because he had promised her he would. Fifty years with someone else.

It hurt to even consider it.

Because, if he were honest, the pain was strong as ever and he missed her.

He always would.

Facing Facts

I promised myself when I started this blog that I would be honest with everyone.  I’ve tried to shield people from some of the slightly more personal bodily function details that might be gross (sorry, but the next blog is taking down that wall).  Emotionally, I think I’ve tried to be really strong; I thought I had hit the acceptance phase of grief.  Perhaps I was still trapped in denial.  I knew there was a chance that cancer might take my life, but I never allowed myself to believe it.  I was going to fight and win.  They’d write stories about my defying the really horrible odds.  Ten years from now, our kids would hear how mommy had been sick and lived.

When I was a teenager, my faith in God went through a major crisis unrelated to the typical teenage doubts.  I would pray, often in fact, for one thing in particular.  God never seemed to listen.  I didn’t understand: I wasn’t praying for good test scores, a car or even that some random boy would like me.  I was praying for God’s help in a situation that I had no control over, a situation that left me at times severely depressed and, according to a counselor, suicidal.  God never listened.  It was fifteen years before my faith resurged and it was mostly thanks to one man: my husband.  Finding him felt like the prayer had been answered, albeit late.  Now, I’m starting to find that faith slipping again.  God is starting to appear cruel.

Please allow me to backtrack and explain why.

While my CT scans were still not back –thanks hospital people!—the MRI was.  As we’ve already covered, the results aren’t exactly the ones we were hoping for.  In fact, Dr. Brooks agreed that being this far in (one-third the way planned), he was hoping that there would be some shrinkage.  He wanted concrete evidence that we were on the right track.  Though the tumor isn’t growing and, therefore, we know these drugs could prolong my life –if I want chemo three weeks a month until I decide I’m done or the cancer decides to stop responding to the drugs that is—they aren’t doing what we want, which is shrinking the tumors.  He mentioned two oral medications we could try and the fact the he is looking into research studies I might be able to participate in.  Dr. Brooks wants a drug that is going to work.  He wants remission.

Yet, as he kindly told me today when I pushed for some kind of answer on where this might be going as the current treatment is failing, there is no cure.  Cancer, in general, has no cure.  Remission is the best case scenario and my cancer doesn’t exactly have the best rates of remission.  Are there people that he thought would die in a month that are still living?  Yes.  Are there others that failed when he thought they’d live?  Yes.  I am, as he said, an anomaly and definitely not a statistic.  Realistically, though, there’s a chance I am going to die.  Chemo will buy me time; how much time we have no idea, but my specific type of cancer is especially bleak in the numbers game.  I might have a year, I might have ten years…finding a cancer cure would be my only and best bet, but we need to at least find a drug that will put my cancer in remission.

I haven’t really been able to bring myself out of the funk since.  I know I asked, it’s my own fault for being so damn inquisitive, but hearing him say that I could die, especially as this tumor is not responding to the traditional treatment, was very disheartening.  All the hope I’ve held on to, the positive attitude, crumbled.  Perhaps it was all a façade anyway.  I think I was trying to be brave and strong for everyone else.  Keeping cool under pressure is my thing.  Maybe I really needed to hear just how vague and bleak it could be to truly manage the stages of grief.  We all knew I had anger under control; rational people do not want to take bricks to car windows.  I hadn’t really done the bargaining thing.  I thought I had successfully navigated denial, not remained so steadily in it, and had even done the depression thing.

Instead, I find myself in a major crisis of faith, trapped in the stages of denial and depression.  Honestly, what kind of “loving father” tortures his children this way?  What kind of God dangles hopes and dreams in front of a girl, teases the thirsty with a sip of water only to prove it’s all sand?  He gave me this amazing husband, taunted me with the hope of fifty years with him, children and grandbabies; now He wants to rip it all away?  He ignored the pleas of a child in serious need of help, only to possibly take her life when she finally feels safe, loved and secure?  How is that fair?  How is that kind and loving?  This isn’t some test to me; this is my life.  I’m done with the “He won’t give you more than you can handle.”  I can’t handle this! I don’t want to handle this!  I want the life He offered me back.  I want to believe in Him again and it’s so damn hard.  I want my life.

I’ve said this a lot, but I am going to reiterate it.  I don’t want to die.  I had plans and dreams; my husband and I promised each other fifty years.  Monday, we celebrate our first anniversary.  I thought we’d be pregnant by now.  We had plans to move somewhere else together and raise a family.  I wanted that.  I still want that.  I feel like there has to be something I’ve done to deserve all this pain and suffering.  Admittedly, I wasn’t a great child.  I told lies.  I did plenty of things I’m not proud of and wish I could take back, but I can’t.

Right now, I’m rather numb.  Crying does that to me.  I’m trying to dig out of this rather deep pit I fell into today.  I’m clutching to hope like a limb on the side of a rock face preventing me from slipping further down.  My desire is that I will be able to restore my faith and determination in beating the cancer so that I can have those fifty years.

Tonight, though, I’m letting myself wallow.  Anyone want a brownie?

And, The Results Are In…

I should start by mentioning that on the thirtieth I went for my second MRI scan.  This was much like the first, except the radio didn’t work properly and I went without music for quite some time.  That might not sound like a hardship, unless you have actually undergone an MRI.  The machine is deafening, even with earplugs in, and the music is the only thing that helps the time pass.  My test was at least an hour and a half long; music would have been greatly appreciated.  I think I might have actually managed to fall asleep for part of the exam, especially since there weren’t near as many segments of holding my breath as last time.  I’m not sure, but I definitely felt slightly refreshed, though stiff, once I was one with my scan.

When the MRI of my pelvis and abdomen was complete, I was ushered into another room for what would be my first CT scan.  The PET scanner is pretty much a CT scanner that also happens to have a setting that measures the uptake of the radiated sugar.  The only difference, the sugary substance doesn’t really have any immediate side effects when injected as long as you aren’t allergic to it.  For a CT scan, however, it is a little different.  The machine at my hospital uses actually spoke to me; it told me exactly when to hold my breath and breathe again.  I should have known that the quick test wasn’t the only thing I was in for.  Apparently, Dr. Brooks had ordered it with IV contrast, so the IV from my MRI was used to dump the CT contrast in as well.  Where the MRI contrast has no immediate effects when injected, the same cannot be said of the CT.  In fact, once the dye was injected, it was as if my entire body had been lit on fire.  Try holding still when you feel as if you’ve been engulfed in flames!  I burned for about five minutes before it started to fade and I know there were tears in my eyes when the tech came around to remove my IV and walk me back to the dressing room.  Oh, did I forget to mention I was paraded around the CT/MRI department in nothing but my panties and a hospital gown?  Yea, I am so glad that I am not modest anymore.

Since I had scheduled my tests for Friday, I of course spent the weekend thinking about the results and knowing that I wouldn’t receive them until at least Monday.  It ate at me.  I was continuously asking myself if the tumors were bigger.  Had they shrunk?  Would we find more or would the news be good?  Had suffering through the side effects from the chemo, especially at the higher dose, been worth it?

Deep down inside, I think I knew the answer to my questions before I even asked them.  When Dr. K had phone and told me about the lesion at the very beginning, I think I knew it wasn’t going to be something easy.  In fact, once they sent me for the biopsy, I knew it was going to be cancer.  I just knew, somehow.  Perhaps it is my lesser revealed pessimistic side.

Sadly, I was correct this time too.

Dr. Brooks called me this morning with the results to half the tests.  The CT was still being read, but the MRI was back and he had reviewed the films and report.  None of the tumors had changed in size, either growing or shrinking.  The only change noted in the new scan was a small, six millimeter nodule (imagine a very small pea) on the right lobe of my liver.  The larger mass was still about the same size on the left and the tumor near my kidney, which apparently is wrapped around my adrenal gland, has not changed in size at all either.  We won’t know about the lung nodules until the CT is back, hopefully tomorrow.  Dr. Brooks recommended we get aggressive again with the chemo, but didn’t really explain what that means.  I am not certain if he just wants to increase my dose back up, make my treatments more frequent or add a new drug.  He promised we’d talk more and review the scans on Friday.

So, there is the update for now.  I expect more information in the coming days.  Today, I’ll admit I was truly disappointed when he said that they hadn’t changed at all.  I expected it, but I had hoped for better news.  I wanted to know that the last month of nausea and lethargy had been worth it in the end.  Though it is still early in my treatment, I had wanted some piece of silver lining to clutch; it just isn’t enough to know they aren’t growing.  People at work were incredibly kind and respectful of the crazy girl crying at her desk.  Milo even popped by to give me a hug and have lunch with me.

I will always remember this though: today is AJ’s birthday and she said something that warmed my heart and made me cry.  “Sorry to hear that. That is not what I wanted to hear. I’m going to use my wish when I blow out my candles for you.”  I feel really loved by all the wonderful people in my life.  I fight for them.