Monday, November 15, 2010

Update November 15, 2010

I had the third installment of my sixth chemotherapy session of my third round  treatment today.  I'm not exactly sure how to correctly term it, but I have been receiving paclitaxel (the taxol derivative) since June.  The course is three weeks on, one week off.  I have been lucky that the side effects have been so minimal up to now.  But last week, I developed a mild neuropathy in my toes- a slight tingling and numbness that did not go away in a day or two, as it has done previously.  It was mostly gone today at the oncologist's, but not entirely.  The Physician's Assistant  Sarah and I spoke with said that eventually should this side effect continue to grow and encompass not only my toes but my ankles, then we will have to discontinue the chemotherapy.  She said that the effects generally are more pronounced by the eighth session.

This is always a balancing act--balancing the efficacy of the treatment, the introduction of a poison to slow or stop tumor growth, against my quality of life.  I liken it to peeling an onion, starting with the skin and working layer by layer into the interior.  It's a judgment call when to stop, and although I am not there, it is a sobering reminder of  the end point of my journey. 

We will all die someday, but one way we keep ourselves 'sane,' if you will,  in the face of this dread outcome, is not to deal with it, to assume that we will live forever.  To constantly reflect on mortality would leave me with an overwhelming fear, and freeze my ability to enjoy each day.  As it is, I find my life seriously circumscribed by my loss of voice, so I do have a regular reminder.  Just as when I look in the mirror.  I try not to let these things bother me, and I've succeeded for many months using a number of distractions, but today it just got to me a little.  Damn.


Malia said...

Such a balancing act. You have been doing such an amazing job of being clear with yourself about your choices. This is a hard one - the neuropathy.
Lacking a magic wand, all I can do is send my best wishes for strength, and hope that you feel supported somewhat by your readers on this blog.
I've not ever commented before, we have never met, and I just randomly stumbled across your blog. I have come to respect you, and to wish you well in this terrible journey you have been thrust upon.
Best wishes

Mellodee said...

Although I have been blessed with good health, thru a close brush with childhood cancer in someone I love, I have learned that the treatments to defeat this horrid disease are very nearly worse than the disease. There is so much money going into various research projects to find a cure, yet they are all still largely unsuccessful. There must be an answer out there somewhere. Till it is found, victims must continue to go through the horrors of chemo and radiation as the only means of defeating this enemy! Those who are going thru this misery are among the bravest on earth! I hope you can continue to hold on to every single moment of your life with everything you've got.

Sally said...

It's hard to follow the two comments above. Just wanted to say I admire your bravery with all you've been through. You are an inspiration to others to keep going. I wish you well on your current treatments.

odp said...

My prayer for the week is that your tingling goes away, and doesn't creep up to your ankle.

You are an amazing woman, and I love and respect you tremendously.


Dan Matyola said...


I am very sorry to hear that you are experiencing some difficult side effects. You are an extremely resilient person, and you can overcome this if anyone can!

Our thoughts and prayers are with you always. Live Strong !