Show Your Stripes!
Round 11 of chemo began on Monday night; it’s funny that back in March I was thinking I’d only have to do 3 rounds of chemo. Sneaky doctors didn’t say, “let’s do 3 months of chemo and then go from there. We may have to do chemo for years though!” Can’t say that I blame them on leaving that last part out…it’s pretty deflating! I wonder if doctors have to take a class called “What to Say to Patients 101” or something? This time last year I was a lost little puppy. I was so stressed about the “reoccurrence” (please imagine me saying that in a Columbian accent since my Columbian surgeon was the one that told me, “I had a reoccurrence”), and I wasn’t ready to shout to the world that my cancer is back. Remember that Facebook post I posted on November 13th, 2015 (no, of course you don’t, because otherwise you would be a stalker and I’d be super concerned) that said, “So thankful to be 3 year cancer free!” Well, THAT was a bit premature! What it should have said was, “Happy 3 year Whipple-versary to me!” That’s what the date was, November 13th. 3 years ago from that date they took the nasty tumor hiding in my pancreas out and (hopefully) healed me! Well damn. Wish that would’ve worked!
This time last year I just wanted to cry…a lot. It was such a waiting game of having a scan…waiting for the results…needing another scan…waiting for results…wait, let’s do another scan…now let’s wait for those results. Ugh! It was agony! I’m an open book, so I wanted to tell everyone. I just felt like it was going to be harder for me to have this conversation…
you: “How are you?”
me: “Umm…honestly, not good. My cancer is back…”
you: “Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry!” (horrified, sad, sympathetic look on your face) This is where you ask me a ton of questions, and this is my response…
me: “Umm…I don’t really know. I don’t know anything yet.”
you: “What can I do to help?!”
me: “I don’t know.”
I didn’t want people walking away from me feeling awful and worried and not knowing one way they could help me or pray for me because I literally only knew one thing…my cancer was back. I also knew that it was treatable but not curable. And I also knew it was inoperable. That’s it. That’s all I had! It wasn’t very encouraging information to have; I was hanging onto the “it was treatable” part. It was such a sad time for me.
Once we knew more, I was very hopeful that we could tackle this and do some treatment for a few months and then get a break. 11 months later, not so much the case. So after a few months on chemo I had my brain wrapped around the simple fact that this 14 day, 2 drug chemo regimen was my new reality and probably my reality for a good long while, then God threw me a curveball and did that whole cardiac arrest thing. Here we go with another change. Now I’m on more heart meds, but my chemo regimen got shortened. Shortened?! Sweet! Only 5 days out of 28 vs. the old one of 14 out of 28. I went from 50% of the time on chemo to only 17.9% of the time on chemo; I’m a math nerd, so the percentages HAD to be known! I got this! Bring it! If I can handle 14 days of chemo with limited side effects, then this whole 5 day thing is going to be manageable! Crap. Spoke too soon. 5 days still sucks. The problem with the new regimen is it’s the same drug I was on before in the 2 drug regimen, and it’s the 2nd drug which was the stronger, more intense feeling drug. Well it’s intense, alright. It makes me feel so fatigued and wiped out. I usually feel fine at the beginning of the week, but by Thursday, Friday, Saturday, I’m just too tired to do much of anything.
That’s what brings me to this round. Round 11. I’m starting on late Monday night, and I’m prepared for exhaustion by the end of the week. Tuesday comes, and I feel awful. Tuesday?! Tired and feeling awful on Tuesday?! What is THIS nonsense all about?! No, no, no, chemo drug…I’ve talked to you about this…we are fine until the end of the week. It is Tuesday…that is NOT the end of the week. I thought I had this figured out! This is messing with my calendar AND my mental game! Ready for this? Then, I woke up on Wednesday and felt okay. Not great, but better than Tuesday. Uhh…can you help a sister out and get some consistency up in here?! Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for feeling better, but it’s just messing with my brain!
It’s just a little challenging when you think you have things figured out and then you realize you got nothing. You just have to roll with the punches. Thank God Mike is patient and understanding! I’ve got my fingers crossed that the end of the week will feel more like a Round 11 Wednesday vs. a Round 11 Tuesday. Stay tuned…