Mornings are so beautiful. I woke at 5.30 this morning with a desperation in my bladder, and then couldn’t sleep after. So, I did what any normal person would do. I got out of bed, went to my kitchen and made a scrumptious breakfast. Home made toast, spread with pesto and avocado with a good dousing of Sriracha chilli sauce.
Watching the world wake up from my balcony is a good way to start the day. It’s 4 days away from Christmas, and we are all looking forward to it. Today, I find out whether my tube is coming out. Yesterday the suction on the bottle had eased up, so there is currently fluid waiting to be expressed. I’m really hoping that Dr W will just take this damn tube out already. I want more than anything, to just soak in a tub…. And to shampoo my hair without bending over at the waist. In case you haven’t worked it out, I can’t get the areas on my torso that have bandages wet.
Also, if Dr W is happy then I can start my chemo treatment. In my previous post, I said that I had met Dr A and that he was going to give me the most aggressive treatment available, and that I was OK with that. Then, I went to see two more oncologists for their opinions. Dr K said that I didn’t need the aggressive treatment, but, if I was adamant, sure he’d give it to me. Let’s call this ACT, as it stands for the 3 drugs that they administer. But Dr K still said that all I needed was 12 doses of Taxol, and Herceptin of course. That’s a given. When I asked how much better the chances were of ACT versus just Taxol, it was very vague, and he said “it could be 1%? 0.5%?”. At this stage I was still going to go for the ACT – although I was wary given that this one had some other long term side effects on the heart, and other things.
Then, I got a third opinion from Dr KW. This lady, spent nearly an hour talking to us. She had just come back from Texas where at a conference they had facts and figures that leant toward giving less treatment for certain groups of cancer patients. I fall into this latter category because the area that is cancerous (HER2+) is less than 3 cm, and my lymph nodes are clear. More chemo in my case may be more detrimental. ACT has a 1% chance of causing other cancers. She concurred with Dr K and said all I needed was 12 weeks of Taxol. That was the most aggressive treatment I should get. She showed me how studies of cancer patients showed that 98.7% of them were cancer free in the first 3 years. 3 years only? She said that most cancer will recur within the first 2 years. The Rock and I like statistics. He’s in insurance, so everything is a probability, and I’m a math nerd who likes and understands numbers so all this made sense to us. Finally we could have something concrete to base our decision on instead of just a feeling that x was better than y. So I’ve decided to have Dr KW as my medical oncologist. I’m going to be seeing a lot of her over the next 10 years.
I’m going to have a port catheter put in under my skin, as I’m going to need a year of intravenous meds. My veins are so small that it just doesn’t make sense to go through the veins in my hands. I’ll need a total of around 12 rounds of weekly Taxol+Herceptin, and thereafter every three weeks I get a round of Herceptin, for a total of 17 rounds. That’s a year in total. Having this port-cath under my skin means that I can function as normal. Dr KW said that with this form of chemo, my hair will fall out but, I should be able to function as normal. Meaning, go to work, exercise.
I felt so damn relieved. Sure, I’ll look a bit funny with a bald-ish head, but to be able to just do normal things? Now I see women who are going through chemo everywhere. Just the other day in Ikea, I saw a woman with a scarf shopping with her friend. Now, don’t jump down my throat and say that she could just be wearing a scarf. In Malaysia, there are many muslim women who wear the hijab so there is no way of knowing if they are going through chemo. But here, I’m seeing non Muslim women, wearing these large caps, and scarves, and you can just tell you know?
Anyway, so I’m seeing all these women going about doing normal things. There is a woman in the girls’ school who is going through chemo (I know because someone told me) and she’s working. Normally.
I look back at my previous posts now and I cringe a bit. How naive I was. I thought, Oh, I can just meditate, eat well, do my pilates and I’ll cope. What I didn’t account for was hitting rock bottom and just not caring. I’ve crawled out of that hole now. And I know that it’s not going to be easy. But I just want, more than anything, to be able to carry on. Perhaps not as hard core as I was prior to this. But these are the things I want to be able to do :
- Take the dog for a walk, everyday.
- Cook for my family
- Take the girls out to do fun things, like go to the beach, swimming, the movies
- Go grocery shopping
- Go to the studio and do pilates
- Head to the gym and lift some weights.
- Go on short holidays
- Have some lovely dinners with friends
You know, normal everyday things. I hate how, prior to finding out I had cancer, I was doing all this and more. But if I hadn’t found out, I’d probably be dead in less than 5 years. I feel pretty crappy now, and my emotional and mental state are slowly healing, so anything I can get that will make it more bearable for me to deal with I’ll take.
I’ve also been eating like it’s my last meal. I’m craving spicy local food. I had Laksa, Mee Siam, nasi goreng, Thai food, but all of it has made me feel rotten. It’s not food I eat normally. But I feel like I’m going to lose all taste sensations and maybe get some mouth ulcers, plus I’m going to have to watch what I eat like a hawk to ensure that I’m doing everything nutritionally to keep myself cancer free. So, indulge a little now I suppose.
Interestingly, I’ve not craved anything sweet. Which is my normal go-to. Zero interest. And also I’m not interested in any alcohol either. Not that I was a big drinker, but it’s just not on my radar at all.
I want to start chemo asap. But, The Rock thinks I should wait until after christmas. I’m not sure it’s as easy a decision as that. First, Dr W has to give the go ahead, and then Dr KW will decide if it’s ok if I wait till the 28th. I’m hoping that it will be fine. Christmas is important in our family. It’s something we celebrate, and the girls are so excited, I wouldn’t want to be curled up in a foetal position in bed all christmas day, feeling nauseous.
I think, I deserve to have a good day. Then we can start.