“The End” ( When chemo is complete)

We are almost there

Saying it out loud

Doesn’t seem real

The Real sigh of relief isn’t for five years

The shadow monkey on my back

Constant reminder of what could be

Excited and terrified to be done

No more internal liquid defense system

Who will protect me? What will protect me?

Is hyperrvilance the answer?

Or is living my life the answer?

It’s probably somewhere in between

“The End” doesn’t actually = instant real me or whole me

Time, patience, perseverance is the key

Setting realistic expectations

That is the true challenge revealed

Seventh Inning Stretch

so close and yet so far

antsy even though I know it’s necessary

side effects more annoying

emotions pouring out all over, unchecked

confusing my caregivers

having trouble convincing then that it’s ok, I’m ok

I really do understand what’s going on

I’m not falling apart or anything

just a few crumbs breaking off here and there

just anxious to be whole again

Almost there!

it’s not over yet but we’re close

close enough to see the glimmer of light

far enough away that we can’t reach it

liquid weapons pummeling the invisible enemy

hit after hit

like a prize fighter I come back for more

willingly and begrudgingly at the same time

will to live is strong even though my body feels weak

the “good days” seem fewer and farther between

ultimately it doesn’t matter

have to keep going

have to show up

have to represent

no one else can do it for me

I just don’t know how to feel.

So, as I understand it, the end is near for my cancer treatments. This week is supposed to be the week. The last chemo. Wow. Just to say it out loud is really something. It doesn’t even seem real. Could it really be true? Of course, when I speak in terms of the end, it is not really the end. The next five years of my life are pretty well mapped out with follow ups and scans and appointments. It is really at the end of those five years that it is really “over,” not just at the end of chemo. There will always be that little forever shadow monkey on my back that things could take a turn for the ridiculous again.

I would be lying if I said that I am not excited about the prospect of chemo being over. But, weirdly, at the same time, I am a bit terrified as well. No more chemo?! While that means, hopefully, no more of the awful side effects after they all wear off. It also means no more internal liquid defense system. It also means that there could be more opportunities for the cancer to creep back into my life. Hmm. How will I know if it is coming back? In the interest of respecting the post traumatic stress aspect of being a survivor, I made a promise to myself not to panic at every little twinge or symptom that I experience after treatment is over, but should I? Or should I be hypervigilant? I don’t really know the right answer.

I am looking forward to feeling like myself again, to having stamina, to being able to exercise, to being able to have hair again (hopefully completely different and thick and amazing), and to feel, dare it say it, sexy again. But, I hear that that is going to be an additional wait as well. I have been told that it can take up to six months before patients feel back to baseline. This kind of statistic just makes me anxious because I suspect that it will be a natural tendency for everyone, including myself, to expect me to pick up right where I left off before treatment as far as work and life in general. I have a gift for putting extra pressure on myself and I am sure this will be no different. Well, at least I am consistent in that regard…lol

Basically what I am saying is that I am kind of all over the place right now. I have no idea how to feel. Part of me is ready to throw caution to the wind and literally have a party( socially distant of course) to celebrate the end of this chapter. The other part of me realizes that there is a whole lot of other stuff to consider before the party can begin.

Dr. Katz

No Wisdom Here

Sitting in chemo today

listening to the chatter

several elderly patients

back and forth discourse and discord.

I eavesdropped a little

hoping for a glimpse of wisdom.

Sadly, wisdom is not what I heard.

anger, stubbornness, self-destruction

That’s what I heard.

“They can’t tell me to quit smoking

just because I have lung cancer.”

“I’ll do what I want!”

“I’ve lived this long haven’t I ?

Why change now?”

My heavy heart sank and filled with despair.

there was no wisdom to gain here.

Misguided thought processes with lethal implications.

The Utilitarian in me asks why they are getting treatment?

The Judge asks if it’s.fair that they are taking a spot from someone willing to listen and change?

Their perception is foreign to me.

No one is forcing then to be there.

Is gratitude an unwelcome sentiment when there is a potentially life saving option?

I sit quietly, my grateful heart appreciating my doctor’s and nurses, celebrating my half way point.

Peace

Sitting in my favorite chair

Flames dancing in the air.

Reflecting back on my day.

Shooing any bad memories away.

Only quiet satisfaction remains

Letting go of guilt sustains.

Allows my mind to rest.

Save myself for a bigger test.

Bald IS the new sexy!

Traditionally, I would say this in reference to men…and to sell more Mr. Clean specials at the laser center! But now, I have joined the club. A healthy dose of cancer shedding, being tired of constantly sweating, a clever idea from my daughter Katy and voila! I have joined the club! Granted, it has only been an hour since we publicly shaved my head on video, jamming out to 80s tunes and then shared it. But, you know, I feel weirdly relieved and liberated. True, this could all be the result of rash, steroid and chemo-induced flight of ideas decision making. It’s possible, but I truly don’t think that’s it.( Tune in tommorow to see if I am crying over my pile of hair. I’ll own it if I do..lol)

Seriously, I feel kind of liberated. On top of that, when I ran outside to howl for a minute, the breeze felt FAN FRICKING TASTIC! YESSSSS! I kind of danced around the yard a minute and let the moon bounce off the top of my head with relish. I think it boils down to the fact that this was MY decision on My terms. This was a weirdly welcome alternative to the constant worrying about when the next clump of hair was going to come out in public somewhere. It really was. My poor husband, on the other hand, is a little bit stunned. I think, for him, this is a smack in your face, unavoidable reminder of what is going on. I have to give him a minute. I have to remind him that it will be ok……and that I’m…still…..me. Have a fantastic, freeing night!

Dr. Katz

Today’s the Day!

The day has finally arrived, after multiple snafus, fits, and stops: the first chemo treatment! Hurray?! Is that the right response? I’m just not sure. All I know is that we showed up, I have my Star Wars shirt on, my port is accessed and drugs are flowing. Look out Hodgkins! It is on!. I am literally getting chemo right now. I can feel my eye fluttering like I am getting a migraine. I can feel my heart fluttering but I think that is just nerves. Of course, my long gone reflux resurfaced almost immediately. Weirdly, my hump on my neck started hurting almost right away. Maybe that means the drugs are already doing battle with my nodes!. Yess!…but owww at the same time!..lol

So let’s talk about chemotherapy for a minute. What the hell is it? Chemotherapy or chemo is a type of cancer treatment that involves giving multi anti cancer medications through an iv or port with the idea to try to cure the patient of cancer. It can also be given to prolong a patient’s life. It can also be given to reduce symptoms. (Palliative therapy).

There are three main kinds of chemo therapy: straight chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy. Now straight chemo is kind of old school. It aims at DNA damage or inhibiting replication by sending intracellular poisons right into the cancer cells..and unfortunately any other rapidly dividing cells like your stomach and hair.

Hormonal therapies, on the other hand are medicine with specific genetic and molecular targets that focuses on inhibiting growth of endocrine hormones like estrogen for breast cancer and andeogens foe prostate cancer.

Targeted therapy targets a different kind of growth inhibition. Targeted therapy is drugs that inhibit growth signals by inhibiting receptor tyrosine kinase at the cell surface.

Any of these three types of therapy are truly systemic therapy for cancer. This means that they are injected into the venous system and can therefore reach cancer anywhere in the body.

Because chemo is usually considered cytotoxic, it naturally affects dividing cells. The assumption is that the cancer cells will be dividing rapidly. While this is true, other cells in your body are also dividing rapidly in your bone marrow, your hair, your digestive tract. So, that explains the nausea, vomitting, hair loss, and low white blood cells and platelets. Side effects people! Yuck! But, I gotta tell ya, I will take them if it means getting rid of the cancer. Have a great day everybody!

Dr. Katz