Early morning rambling warning!
Despite having chemo, acupuncture, and a long walk coupled with a heavy dinner and going to bed early last night, the steroids are winning and keeping me awake! I'm on a two-day jag of brain overload, stressing over jacked-up medical billing, finding a mortgage, financial stuff in general that's made my blood pressure quite high over the last couple of treatments. Of course it contributed to my illness—this is just what I was doing when the cancer came on, in addition to a stressful job, living situation, and being pregnant. But I suspect the financial stress played no small part.
At any rate, yesterday was something like Cycle 31 of Alimta + Tarceva…I'm starting to lose count. I had an MRI of my pelvic bones last week, which had me worried over the gadolinium solution they inject to produce contrast. Big lawsuits surrounding death and other certainly fatal side effects it produces on patients with kidney issues. The oncologist says it can happen to anyone at anytime, not just those with kidney failure, and it's irreversible. Apparently you get a special type of necrosis that hardens your skin and arteries, so you're basically petrified from the inside out, no need to mummify. If I joke it's because I'm scared to death, as if cancer wasn't bad enough.
The MRI was a precursor to the forthcoming bone biopsy. It's to put to rest the notion of whether the cancer in my bones is active or not. The bone and other mets have been stable, and because of the negative PET scan, the onc is considering taking me off treatment. A scary proposition, but even a small break would be welcome, to recover, and because I've secretly been feeling like maybe I've kicked this thing, but have been too insecure to let go of my chemo security blankets (which also jack me up physically but I'd rather live longer). This suspicion began after the death march hike with a friend. I felt really great the next day, and did more walking in Golden Gate Park. Still, my chest feels tight occasionally, and when my hip hurts I worry.
What if it's positive? Well, then I'm glad I've sustained as close to a normal quality of life as possible in the meantime. It looks like I'll make my 10th wedding anniversary, maybe a family reunion, and if the universe would be so kind, our first home. I'm looking at June, the 3-year anniversary of my diagnosis (although I had symptoms 3 years ago this month). 2 more years and I'll be in the 14 percentile of lung cancer patients that survive 5 years. I am mindful of my friend Betsy's case—in complete remission for 4.5 years and then her time was up in two weeks. One can never be too mindful or grateful for each day.
Dear friends who can relate to this situation, hold tightly to your dreams of recovery. Whether we choose it or not, those dreams command our lives. How often I forget that and am snapped back to reality. I don't know if there are worse fates, but I try to remember to make this fight channel what energy I have towards the right activities, feeling, thoughts. (Far too often I don't succeed, esp. with the stressful things, but I try.)
Edit: My oncologist (who is African-American, at least partially) skipped work on Tuesday to watch the Inauguration. He really felt strongly he should've been there, but couldn't make it. He said, "I don't know if it was race-pride or just American-pride, but I was overwhelmed…" I'm selfishly glad he didn't go, and that we talk about all sorts of things other than the state (or non-state) of this disease.