The good news is that my meds appear to be working and most of my tumors are shrinking. The bad news is that these same meds make me nauseous. I spend my mornings getting up every 15 – 30 minutes to throw up. The rest of the day is better, but certain foods or smells can set me off at any time. I imagine this is what being pregnant is like. It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t already have teeth anxiety. All I can think about is how this must be bad for my teeth enamel. Do I brush my teeth right after to get the acid off? Or should I wait because if I brush my teeth right after, it’ll brush the enamel off? Does anyone know?
My hair finally got thin enough that it was time to shave. I crossed all my fingers and toes and ended up with no weird birthmarks and a pretty nicely shaped head. I was happy with how it turned out. It’s growing in well, except for the path the radiation took. There’s a stretch of my head that looks like I’m trying to pull off a reverse Mohawk. There’s also this perfect circle on the back of my head that grows in darker and faster than anything else because it was blocked from any radiation. It looks bizarre. I’m going to shave the whole thing again and then let it grow back in. Hopefully the radiation-affected areas will grow in better the second time. I’m nervous it won’t grow back and I’ll have weird hair forever. What’s the use in having a nicely shaped head if your hair is weird? Please cross all of your fingers and toes for me.
My eyesight and concentration have improved enough that I’ve started reading again. I burned through Reconstructing Amelia, The Tenth of December, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, and Pastoralia. All but the first book were by George Saunders and excellent. Amelia was a fun, light read, but the writing left a bit to be desired. I’d recommend it as a beach read. I recommend all of the Saunders’ works for any location. Reading makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something during these days where I’m a SAHC (stay at home cancer patient). My other big daily accomplishment: watching the West Wing. I’m already up to season 3. I think it’s a good viewing choice because all the characters are so motivated and work so hard it makes me feel like I’m a part of something important…till the credits roll and I remember I’m sitting on the couch in my pj’s.
After watching the summer pass me by, I feel ready to get back to living. The weather has been remarkably gorgeous – especially for summer in Chicago – and I feel like I haven’t taken advantage of it. I still have yet to ride my bike. It’s time I took the next step from the couch and pj’s to my bike and the out of doors. I’m feeling really motivated and optimistic right now. That’s probably because today is a good day. The problem is that tomorrow I could be throwing up six or seven times again. I just never know. This is the major factor that keeps me from going back to work. On days like today, I feel totally ready. But just yesterday I threw up in my car (in a bag, like a pro). I should mention here that I was driving on Lake Shore Drive when this happened. This may be more dangerous than texting and driving (eh, probably not). I didn’t spill a drop outside the puke bag. Then I pulled into Walgreens, got out and tossed it in the trash like a candy wrapper, and went inside to pick up more anti-nausea drugs (I take three).
Next Tuesday I have gamma knife surgery (this will be my second time). It’s pretty amazing. They kill cancer cells by zapping them with lasers. The worst part of the whole ordeal is that they have to screw a mask onto your skull and it’s swollen and painful for a while after. The surgery itself is a piece of cake. I slept through the last one. Of course, I was on sedatives, so that helped. I’m starting to feel like I’m going to come out of all of this cancer free but addicted to narcotics. GIVE ME MY MORPHINE!!
Hopefully, two days after the surgery I’ll be able to start a new treatment plan called bio chemotherapy. It’s a mixed bag of five different drugs – three chemo drugs and two immunotherapy drugs. It’s intense and I have to be hospitalized while I take it. The worst part about that (besides the inevitable side effects – your standard vomiting, diarrhea, head aches, pain) is the hospital food. It’s as bad as your imagination is telling you it is. Thankfully, it’s not my first time to this rodeo and I know about the secret binder that holds all of the local takeout menus that the nurses use.
There are tumors in my body that aren’t responding to my current treatment. The CT scan confirmed this, but I already knew based on this hockey puck sized tumor on my left side boob. I’m basically pulling a Total Recall tri-boob situation. Except that my third boob is purple, scabby and gross.
Aren’t you glad I included a photo? It’s actually bigger now. I know what you’re thinking, “just surgically remove that sucker.” I wish we could. But it’s too risky on a cancer patient. What we’re hoping is that my new course of treatment will shrink it down to nothingness. My left boob is tired of having to carry the weight of this hanger-on and it’s getting harder and harder to wear a bra.
I should probably take the time to mention that it’s been a year since my diagnosis. I’m thankful for everyday. There have definitely been ups and downs, but still being alive trumps everything. Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts and prayers and support. I’ve been able to make it this far because I’ve got so many wonderful people in my life backing me up. There really is no way to express my gratitude enough. Just know that all of your words, prayers and gifts have not been in vain. They have made a huge difference in my life. Now let’s kick this cancer business once and for all.