So I started back at chemo today. It went pretty well. First, let me get the details out of the way, and then, let me tell you the rest… of the story.
I had an EKG and a head-MRI yesterday in preparation for today. Both scans came out clean. That is especially good news about the MRI, as it means there is no detectable cancer in my noggin. I should add that they have a doppler function for the EKG which is super-cool and psychedelic-looking. So watch one if you get the chance – you’ll see your heart beating in real time, with a light-show! My blood-work all looked good, so Dr. Leal gave me the go-ahead to start my treatment today as scheduled. I’m on a new course of three chemo meds called “CAV,” which stands for Cytoxan, Adriamycin, Vincristine. This is another regimen from the past, but Leal seemed pretty confident in its efficacy. One of them (I forget which) can be hard on the heart, hence the EKG. But Leal says I’m young and healthy enough that I should tolerate it just fine, which I seem to have done. I confess I do enjoy hearing how young and healthy I am.
All the usual side-effects will be, er, in effect, but I have anti-nausea drugs to help with that, and I have already buzzed my hair in anticipation of losing it again. A big plus to this regimen is that it is administered all in one day, rather than the three-day course I had last summer. It was a long-ish day today but I don’t have to go back for three more weeks, which is sooper. I also will not need to give myself those Neupogen shots either, barring a recurrence of infection. My weight has been stable for several months now, which is a great sign of improved health. And I still feel pretty good, despite the increase of a few rather unpleasant symptoms I have been dealing with for the last month or so. With luck, the CAV will tamp down my new growths and generally put the kibosh on those symptoms.
Well, I told you I would give you a story and here it is.
DRAMA IN THE WAITING ROOM!
There was drama in the waiting room! Jeanette and I were sitting quietly and this trio of folks sat down across the table from us: a middle-aged couple and another guy who turned out to be her brother, who was there for his very first round of chemo on account of his lung cancer (remember, Wednesday is lung cancer day at the clinic). He was very blue-collar looking, very Wisconsin, and had a bit of an underbite as well. She was talking to him such that I heard about half their conversation without trying. He was describing how he works in some kind of industry that uses a lot of “chemicals” and he was the only one who never said “no” to management’s requests that he clean this or wash that. They apparently give him all the dirty jobs no one else wants to do. He was really harping on those chemicals! Well, Dirty Harry was going on and on about it, and I started to lose interest.
That is, until he got upset, stood up, and threatened to leave before his treatment. From what I heard, the doctors keep trying to get him to quit smoking, but he just *knows* that the chemicals gave him cancer. He wants his sister to lay off about the cigarettes but she won’t (duh). And he’s just sick of it and is ready to just storm out of the clinic and never return. Bad move, dude. So off he stomps, sis right behind him, and we are left in awkward silence with his (I assume) brother-in-law. B-I-L looks like he needs to get it off his chest, so I gently say something like “cancer is tough on everyone.” And OUT IT ALL COMES. We talk with the guy for a few minutes, which hopefully helped him to feel like he’s not the only reasonable person in that situation, and then sis returns with the social worker who is advising them. They proceed to hash it out some more, and then the nurse comes out and calls my name. So we wish them all luck and go in.
A HEARTFELT MOMENT WITH MY DOCTOR!
Every time we meet with Dr. Leal, it seems we need a day to recover. She usually has the unpleasant duty to tell us what new growth she is seeing, or what terrible side-effects to expect, or what disease progression we need to be mindful of. I don’t envy her this task. Today, however, was an unusually good day for all of us. As I said before, all my scans came back clean, which was a real mood-lifter! She cleared me for my treatment, which was good forward motion.
I tried to describe my current symptoms to her in as detailed a manner as I could manage (which is rather like telling someone “it smells like purple! It sounds like fishsticks! I swear I’m not crazy!) She listened patiently. Finally, unable to draw any meaningful conclusions from my admittedly highly subjective description, she could only conclude that, in her words, “cancer sucks.” Which I took to mean that, as I also believe, there are as many cancers as there are cancer patients, and there’s really no way to tell what all these niggling little symptoms mean, if anything, and that, ultimately, the chemo will hopefully do the trick.
I agreed that, yes, it does suck. But I added that she is helping me a lot, and I thanked her for that. And she gave me a look that said a lot about what the rewards of being a healer are. I was grateful to have the opportunity to tell her, human to human, how much I appreciate what she has been able to do for me. And I hope that hearing that made her day a bit better too.
Anyway, the treatment went pretty easily, and we left at around 4:00. On the way out we saw the sister from earlier, and concluded that they had managed to talk Dirty Harry into staying and getting his chemo after all. Good move, dude. Stick with it – it’s your friend.
That’s it for now. I probably won’t have too much to report for a few weeks, but I will type at you then.