Wednesday, March 09, 2011

And now for something completely different

Dearly beloved,

Not really anything all that different. Just the latest update on the cancer treatment. Fourth bout of chemotherapy, eighth treatment. Surgery, radiation, two gamma knife surgeries. I'm going to run out of fingers to count on fairly soon.

This chemotherapy is not typical. By far the worst round was the first one, and it was the reaction to the Zeloda - a bone med. This most recent round was the third in a series of six, and I tried really hard to take it easy over the weekend. Amazingly, it worked, and I had a fairly easy day yesterday (day 4), in spite of the fact that I did ballet in the morning, went to work, and ran errands. I also took an hour of down time between ballet and heading to my office, which I don't usually do. I am almost getting the hang of this after five years - sitting still has never been my long suit.

So I'm now half way through this chemotherapy. I'll have another PET/CT scan in the next week or so. If I'm responding (cancer visibly going away), we finish this chemo, which will go until May 3, and then I get a break for a while. If there's not much change, I'll switch to a different chemo, probably Xometa, which is an oral chemo drug. If it looks nasty, and the cancer has progressed, I'll go on two - Xometa and Gemzar. More likely to get a response, but more side effects. Let's hope the PET scan looks good.

The most recent PET scan had one anomaly - the bone stuff was pretty consistent in glucose uptake, except for one, in my left hip socket, which was much higher than all the others. My wonderful family practice doc asked the right questions, and we realized that I had taken a really hard fall the week before the scan, and landed on my left elbow and knee - one the sidewalk outside of the grocery store. Very dignified. (And tore a hole in the elbow of my favorite cashmere sweater, dammit.) But the hip socket, we hope, was just a bruise from the fall, rather than another bone metastasis. From what I understand from the Metastatic Breast Cancer Babes, hips tend to be the place where you feel pain, because of the weight bearing. So I'm curious to see if the numbers go down, particularly that one.

I also saw my neurosurgeon yesterday, and that is mostly good news. Biggest one is that I can wean off of the damned steroid! Hurrah! He and I talked about it, and apparently when I get down to half a mg (I'm at two) I'll switch to hydrocortisone, or something? As one doctor friend pointed out last summer, my pituitary has apparently forgotten how to work, and needs to be noodged to start working again before I go completely off of the steroid. Amongst other things, I remember back in December when I was decreasing the dose, and there's definitely elements of withdrawal, much as I hate the side effects. The neuro said if I decrease too fast, I'll feel like hell. His words, which was pretty funny. Out of character.

Why do cancer docs get more human as they treat you? I thought this guy was a pretty cold fish the first few times I met him - young, handsome, a neurosurgeon (no ego there) and gay as a tree full of monkeys. He didn't seem to have the vaguest interest in me, although apparently, like everyone else on the world, he liked Kevin's accent.

But i managed to break through the facade on this visit. I made a wild guess, and asked him if he was the one in the practice interested in architecture and design. He lit up, and said yes, he's been remodeling his house here in Sac for years. I laughed, and said that Metropolis magazine was not the most common doctors' office waiting room reading. I also got to have my vitals taken by Sergio (unprouncable last name), from Russia, whose accent I want to steal. I guess I spend so much time in doctors' offices that I have to take my fun where I find it. It also turns out the neurosurgeon is mostly unavailable because he is only in clinic two half days - all the rest of the time he's doing surgery. Can you imagine spending four days a week cutting people's skulls open? I can't.


1 comment:

  1. Especially glad to hear the joyful news about the steroid! Eff that ess, right in the ears which it does not have.

    Big love!