The first of the good news is that I had my last chemo of this round and am feeling better this morning. I had a power surge at 5:30 AM and couldn’t sleep, so I finally got up. It’s unpredictable as to how each chemo affects me, other than every evening after the chemo I feel pretty rotten. I usually have at least one more rotten day, but hey, maybe I won’t this time.
I saw my surgeon on Tuesday and then my medical oncologist yesterday right before chemo. The next good news is that the tumor has shrunk from chestnut size (about two inches) to marble size, and I think it will shrink even more after this chemo treatment. The surgeon wants to wait about a month after this treatment to allow my blood counts to get higher before surgery. It’s looking as if surgery, a lumpectomy, will be around December 1st. The four weeks time period after chemo falls during Thanksgiving week, so that pushes surgery back until the next week, but I figure that just gives my body more time to get healthier. The medical oncologist says I have “juicy” bone marrow that gets the blood counts up pretty well. I’ll have a mammogram and ultrasound a week from Monday to give the docs pictures of what the chemo treatments have done.
After surgery, I’ll have another round of a different chemo. The surgeon and medical oncologist had a different view of that, with the surgeon saying I might not need that round, depending on the pathology of lymph nodes he’ll remove during surgery, but I’ll follow the medical oncologist’s recommendation of another round of a different chemo because it gives a little better prognosis for the cancer not to return. That chemo will follow the same pattern of four treatments given every two weeks. It’s not supposed to cause as much nausea as this last one, but of course it has its own side effects. The final step will be radiation five days a week for four weeks. That puts me into March, I think, and symbolically that works because my diagnosis and treatments will have run the end of summer and paring back into fall and winter with healing beginning in earnest as spring arrives.
It has been really nice having my sister Karla here with me. She’s doing a wonderful job of asking for what I need before I even know what it might be. She has been really good company for me. It has also been a nice week also with friends’ visits. Two brought lunch on Sunday and we had a picnic and little walk in the battlefield, and another two brought a picnic lunch for me at the battlefield. It’s nice to be outside sometimes, and I really appreciated the picnics and visiting with friends. I can’t do crowds much, partially because they make me tired (and honestly, I have so much introvert in me that I don’t really like crowds anyhow) and partially because I can’t be around the germs. Karla and I did eat out a few times this week, and I did fine with that. A friend also met us at chemo and stayed during my treatment. She brought her always-good energy to Karla and me.
Now I’m in the post-chemo time and foods aren’t as appealing and my taste buds and olfactory senses are too acute for much to appeal to me. And I have little to no energy. But I get a break from this as I bounce back from this chemo round and have a couple of extra weeks of feeling better before the surgery and the next chemo. Maybe I’ll even feel like putting up a Christmas tree!
I’m grateful that my treatments have gone on schedule thus far. And that I’ve adjusted to the hills and valleys of this breast cancer treatment ride and all that comes with it. The wonderfully deep and full support and love I’m getting from friends and family (especially that almost-daily support that I’m getting on Facebook) has helped this healing path so very much. And my centering prayer group planned and carried out a very touching and loving show of support when they all wore scarves to centering prayer on Wednesday. I’d taken the afternoon (my only one while Karla is here before the chemo would put me back under the weather) with Karla to drive out to the cove to enjoy the fall leaves and up the mountain to Mentone, AL for lunch, so I didn’t have the energy to make it to our centering prayer group, but they sent photos, which are delightful! They called it “Scarf Solidarity” and each one of them is wearing a scarf. I feel very blessed in so many ways, and my heart is full of the love that others are sharing with me. Thank you seems insufficient. But thank you to all of you. Deeply. Profoundly.