Chemo-hangover and steroid withdrawal, like icy prods, seek deep sadnesses and chase them to my surface.
Robbed of my fortitude by these chemicals, I writhe.
But I’ve learned, these months, that this darkness will fade.
‘Til then, apt words from Phyllis McGinley…
Sticks and stones are hard on bones
Aimed with angry art,
Words can sting like anything
But silence breaks the heart.
— Phyllis McGinley, “Ballade of Lost Objects,” 1954
No surrogate at my pre-chemo#5 oncology appointment today. Here’s the scoop:
- Can I avoid the full week of Taxotere-induced agony this round? If so, how?
The answer was pretty much “Not really”. My oncologist entered the room shrugging and saying “I told you Taxotere would be bad”. She recommended I extend my steroids (dexamethasone) further beyond the 5x8mg doses and to take any combination of my many prescriptions that may help, as needed.
- What’s her opinion of my long-debated bilateral mastectomy?
My oncologist is not against the bilateral mastectomy and would support it if it puts my mind at ease. Apparently, though, there is no evidence that would prompt her to recommend it. She gave us the bad news that recurrence in the breast is not as likely as spread elsewhere in the body. Obviously, I can’t remove every organ in my body so I don’t think I’ll put myself through this major surgery “just in case”.
- When does radiation start? And is it still within walking distance of our place?
We will meet with our radio-oncologist in the near future to address these questions. It sounds like radiation is no longer available walking distance from our place, though. darn.
- Can I ask now about plans for my ovaries?
Yes, I was allowed to ask. The answer was, “We’ll see.”
- What’s with the sunken, bright read hollows under each of my eyes?
After hearing about the various possibilities of recurrence and spread of the cancer, I really didn’t care about the look of my face.
- Is my 105 year old skin here to stay?
Scary news or no, I still plan to survive and thrive.
Maybe not long enough to grow my own 105 year old skin, but for a long — healthy, happy — time.
Recovery from chemo2 has been miles better than chemo1. Correcting my inadvertently doubled steroid prescription allowed me to sleep the nights immediately following my infusion and to skip the hangover that kept me moaning on the couch days 5, 6 and 7 last time round.
Still, late Tuesday afternoon, I fell into a Sudden Valley of self-pity.
Maybe it was the lurking nausea that makes me gasp at smells, repetition and gross thoughts of all kinds; the accumulating isolation and detachment from normal, happy, healthy life; or the banning of all my favourite treats.
Whatever the reason, I fell fairly hard and spent most of two days in a smile-free limbo that included two temper tantrums, relentless grimacing and the frenzied consumption of a family-sized bag of Miss Vickie’s Salt & Vinegar chips.
And then they opened the Rideau Canal Skateway.
No sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol, no germs. Just the swish, swish of strong legs on blades on ice.
And life is good again.
Mysteries which I hope are solved at my pre-chemo oncology appointment today:
- Why is my port-a-cath migrating in my chest?
- What’s with the new lump just above my lumpectomy incision?
- Why are my forearms and wrists weak and painful since chemo #1?
- How much will the port-a-cath puncture hurt?
- Can I avoid the 3 day post-steroid hangover following chemo without giving up my beloved post-chemo steroids? If so, how?