One More Week

I saw my oncologist on Monday.  We discussed how crappy I felt last week after receiving a treatment of Gemzar.  I have a scan next week, and he said getting treatment this week wouldn’t make a bit of difference in what we see on the scan.  We agreed it was best to skip it.  As a result, I’ve had a really good week!

My PET scan is next Thursday, and I will get the results on Friday.  But I have very mixed feelings.  You might think I obviously want the scan to look better, right?  Unfortunately, it’s just not that black and white.  I can definitely say that I don’t want the cancer to have progressed any further.  That’s easy.  But do I want to see a ton of improvement?  No, I don’t think I do.

If you’re done gasping in horror, allow me to explain.  If I was one of the many people who undergo surgery/chemo/radiation until they are declared cancer-free, then yes, I would want to see as much improvement as possible.  But my cancer isn’t a foe I can destroy.  It’s something that will always be with me, and I will need treatment for the rest of my life.  It’s not like I just have to ‘stick it out’ through treatment, and then I’ll be healthy again.  Instead, I view my chemo as a long-term relationship I have to be able to tolerate.

If it turns out that Gemzar has been effective in controlling my cancer, I’m not sure how I’ll proceed.  I don’t think I can put myself through that on a long-term basis.  When I’m that sick, it’s barely living.  And there are other drugs to try.  I suppose if nothing else works, I could go back to it.

Considering other drugs is emotionally confusing too.  Because the next one, either Taxol or Taxotere, will almost certainly make me lose my hair.  It’s something I’ve tried to mentally prepare for since starting chemo – and I’ve already lost about 75% – but I’m not sure a woman is ever ready to be bald.

And there’s no promise that Taxol or Taxotere will be easier on me than Gemzar.  But it would be given once every three weeks: that’s a huge plus.  Of course, if it works, I could be bald long-term.  Believe me, I’ve made the pros and cons list a dozen times in my head.

I expect the scan to show stability.  My cancer didn’t get better and didn’t get worse.  That would mean Gemzar inhibited further growth but didn’t knock it down at all.  In that case, my doctor will probably recommend that we try a new drug, and I will have to knit a few more hats for the winter.

I’ll have the results one week from now.  I guess what I really want is for the decision to be an easy one.

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10 responses to “One More Week

  • Pat Poling

    I saw a cartoon the other day with a picture of a woman whose hair was in wild disarray. The caption said something like, “Your hair was put on your head to show you that you can’t control everything.” Conversely, your loss of hair would show that you can sure give it a shot to get your cancer under control. My friend told me to ask for the drugs that make your hair fall out because you’re ready to go all the time…just wear a cute hat! Sometimes when we feel crappy we make different decisions than we would if we felt better. Would the new meds make you feel better? I hope so.

  • Debbie and Bella

    When I went through chemo, I was on Taxol and lost my hair. Actually, I shaved my head as I couldn’t bear the thought of waking up to find my hair on my pillow one day. I thought I would be more devastated than I was. I wore knit caps most of the time, but, I did buy a wig as well. It was much more convenient to ware the knit caps. One benefit, if there was such a thing, was that I no longer had to shave my legs and underarms.

  • kimmywink

    Hello Jessica,

    Bald noggins are surprisingly chilly- you may know that with the hair loss you’ve already experienced. Cute hats are a must. I like ones with brims to add some dimension. My rule is the shorter the hair the bigger the earrings!

    Best of luck to you next Friday!

  • Linda

    My sister Wendy had two very cool wigs. Her hair was dark brown and she wore it long. One wig looked exactly like her hair. And the other had long dark hair that was attached to a baseball cap that looked really cute on her. After a while, her hair started coming back, and it was adorable. And it was curly! She had never worn short hair before, and I loved it on her. She had never had curly hair.

    Jessica, you have a beautiful face and your eyes are so pretty. Nothing can take that away from you.

    I am in awe of your life view. You are truly inspiring to me.

    Best,
    Linda

  • Matt

    Just stopping in to say hi Jessica! And hair shmair, bald is the beautiful!

  • Melanie

    Just found your blog via kimmywinks blog. I also have stage IV lung that went to my brain, in remission, whatever that means. Can I pray for you? Have a long list of people with cancer to pray for, would love to add you to it.

    • Jessica

      It’s nice to meet you, Melanie. That would be very sweet of you to keep me in your thoughts. I hope you stay healthy and strong!

      Warm regards,
      Jessica

  • CD

    Hi Jessica, I am diagonized with Stage IV Breast Cancer..My first line treatment did not work well so right now I am on Gemzar, for now its been working well on the Mets. I thought no one would understand the mixed feelings (as written in your post) I use to have before my Pet Scans (I get every 2/3 months).

    During my first treatment, I lost all my hair .. I try to cover it up with pretty scarfs (just one more reason to shop!!)

    Take care and you will be in my prayers :)

    CD

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