So I’ve been getting all kinds of questions about when I’ll be done with chemo and treatment and what the future looks like, and I decided I should probably write an entry with an update for all of you. I hate writing these because I don’t want to bore you to death, so that being said, don your sleeping caps, grap a cup of nighttime tea, big long stretch, nice yawn, and here we go…
As long as my counts look good, my LAST (Lord, willing) chemo treatment is next Friday, January 25th (at 10:30 in the morning). I WILL be wearing my pink fuzzy hat for that celebration. Unfortunately for my oldest son, January 25th is also Ash’s birthday, so I’m torn about how to actually feel about that day since I’ll be pretty incoherent after treatment. Following my last chemo, the doctor is a nice enough man to give me about a month’s reprieve before beginning radiation; however, I will still receive my Herceptin treatment somewhere in there. (For info on what herceptin is, see Brian’s previous entry .)
Some of you may ask, “What’s radiation?” or even, “Why radiation?” Well, when I had my surgery, lots of my blood vessels were cut and/or cauterized. This possibly trapped those nasty little cancer cells in those vessels. Chemotherapy sends poison into my blood to kill off any cancer cells that weren’t removed during surgery. Because of the cauterized blood vessels, blood flow can’t get to those particular places, so radiation targets the site where the actual cancer was found.
Obviously, I haven’t experienced this yet, but here’s what I’ve read. Radiation therapy is focusing high energy (radiation) beams at the chest wall and under my arm where the tumor was removed. This is to stop cancer cells from growing and dividing. Yay for me in that it does not require IV’s! Boo for me in that it is an every day treatment, 5 days a week, for 6-8 weeks. I will also be having herceptin treatments every 3 weeks along with the radiation.
Side effects are unique to each individual as are the side effects of chemo but possible side effects are skin reactions, fatigue, loss of appetite, some muscle stiffness, and general malaise. I am most concerned about the fatigue possibility because of my lupus. Generally, they do not like to give radiation to lupus patients because of the fatigue factor, but my cancer was so aggressive that they’d rather take the risk of impacting my lupus negatively than to risk not fighting the cancer in this way. This scares me, but I trust my doctor.
So, those are the gory details. As for my heart, I’m having an “I can’t seem to stop crying” kind of day. It all feels like so much, and while the worst of the hurdles is almost jumped, I fear looking at my doctor and hearing him say that it all didn’t work or that there has been a recurrence and then all of this will have been for nothing. But it won’t be for nothing, I know. God has grown me and taught me in ways I would not have grown had I not gotten cancer. And even if I hear those nightmare words from my oncologist, God will still be good and He will still be faithful. No matter what road I travel, my future is still His.
Because of the devastation of the the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy. “Now I will arise,” says the Lord, “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.” (Psalm 12:5)