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.