Sunday, September 26, 2010

The New Next Step

This week begins the new next leg of my treatment, made necessary by the revelation that the old treatment plan was no longer working. I'll be heading back to radiation, this time for spots on my neck and hip. I'm hopeful that the radiation therapy will be as successful as it was the first time. If you remember, I had seven weeks of radiation on my shoulders, and fortunately, it seems that my shoulders are no longer as worrisome as they were a few months ago.

I will also begin a new chemo regimen, which includes a daily oral medication and an IV infusion once a week. It's going to be more low dose chemo, since there's a limit to the dosage I can be given during radiation. I recognize the oral drug as one I was given through IV during my fourteen rounds of high dose chemo, days I recall fondly as full of wondrous enjoyment...That was a joke.

The doctors think I'll be able to tolerate this new regimen fairly well, since I've managed to push through everything as well as I have so far. I'm sure I'll experience the regular nausea and stomach pain, and the docs aren't sure whether or not I'll lose my hair. We all know how anxiously I awaited its return, so you can probably guess my feelings about possibly losing it again.

If the chemo can at least keep the tumor from spreading, then we can go after the new spots a few at a time with radiation, until they're all gone. It sounds incredibly simple. In practice, it's probably not. There's just no way of knowing what might happen with the new treatment.

The journey is obviously going to take longer than I had anticipated. I get that, and it's fine. I'm okay with it. I'm in a much better place now than I was a year ago; better than some had predicted I might ever be. But again, I don't care about the numbers. I don't care about statistics, and if you tell me I can't do something, I'm going to try to prove you wrong. Doctors are no exception. Check that: If you tell me I can't do something, I'm going to try to prove you wrong, especially if you're a doctor. That's the way I am. Hopefully it will serve me well.

I understand that having a positive outlook on things is thought to help people in my situation. If I believe I'm going to get better, then somehow I have a better chance of actually getting better. But at some point, I am at the mercy of doctors and drugs and whether or not they're capable of killing this monster inside of me. It's a helpless feeling. I've been told to redirect my anger and frustration towards the illness. Trust me, I've said things to my illness that should not be repeated in a public forum. I'll continue to focus my anger in its direction. I just hope my words and wishes hurt its feelings to the point that it's incredibly vulnerable, and this new treatment kicks its ass.

The right mental approach can only go so far. Maybe it will combine with this new drug and the new form of the old drug to create an unstoppable force; a force for which the toughest, nastiest, sneakiest of opponents will be no match.