Tuesday, September 10, 2013
..... the CT scan results is in.......and....
...... the results will be discussed with Dr. Eisenhower on what amounts to an extremely hot, windy and humid September afternoon. I have 4 hours between classes and am hopeful that I will make it back in time. It is always a hit and a miss with a full waiting room. I get to clinic 3 at 12:30 and am informed that I have missed my early morning appointment. I had changed the appointment a week ago but the only appointment that was changed was the chemo booked for tomorrow. I am asked to sit and wait until my nurse can be found. I spot her in the back office and get the stink eye from the receptionist when I peek around the corner to let her know. The last time this happened they forgot about me and I waited politely for over an hour. It only took a few minutes and I was handed a pager and a requisition for a blood test.
The blood test lab is on the same floor and just past clinic 4. I have been lucky in the last 3 visits to the lab to get in without a wait. The regular staff has been changed out and the new staff is not familiar to me. I am not liking the blood tests or any of the needles of late. It took two days and the use of a healing balm to reduce the swelling in my good vein and reduce the bruising. The pain was something else. I have decided to have the blood drawn from my hand....yes, it hurts and the technician has to push it into the vein quickly and expertly. She did a great job, and I am deeply relieved. I am at the cringe stage with teeth clenches and white knuckles.....I feel like crying. While I didn't want to entertain the notion of having a port installed in the chest under the skin for blood tests and chemo IV, I am thinking that I should have considered it.
I am back to the waiting room outside of clinic 3 balancing my iPad, cell phone, purse and pager and trying to answer emails from students. The lady next to me is with her mother and you can tell that her elderly Mom is there for the first time visit when she asks where the blood lab is. She turns to me and asks me how long I have been in my journey.... I tell her just over 4 years... and for the rest of my life..... she just stares at me and isn't sure what to say. Her discomfort at my answer has her tilting her head slightly and she gives me an 'oh dear' before rising to assist her mother. I am normally quite sociable but after two diagnosis, you lose the desire to speak about your illness. This past week I have spoken to each of my classes about my diagnosis.... I felt like they had the right to know that my immune system is compromised.
Max is due to arrive any minute but nurse Laura finds me. She hasn't bothered to set off the pager... she has known me for four years as my nurse. She is cheery and we chat and catch up. She notes that I look good and goes through the run down as to how I am feeling. I am weighed so my medication can be made to suit my body weight. The concern is always with my bowel and I have discovered through two of my last rounds that the liquid chlorophyll w/mint I take every morning in a glass of ice water. It works far better and with less cramps as compared to prune juice. I find the recovery after chemo is quicker... just compare that with the second chemo when i ran out and felt brutal for days....
..... the results are nothing less than a miracle. The majority of the nodes are back to their normal size and the ones above the heart and lungs having shrunk to almost their size! One node was 2.2 cm and is now under 1 cm..... this just after 3 rounds. There is a blemish showing on the liver but according to the report, while they will be watching this closely, they have reported that there are differences in how the two CT scans have been done. I will be continuing on the chemo for the remaining 3 rounds which they are confident will shrink all nodes to normal size... this does not mean the cancer is gone, just under control. They are hoping my immune system can take over after that and keep it from growing out of control. We spoke about eating well, getting sleep and staying active. Max mentioned stress and keeping myself paced. Even though I have been super busy this summer, I don't find my life or the students I teach to be stressful. If anything, being busy makes me the happiest. Working in an environment where I feel valued makes me happy. They tell me that I cannot be on chemo indefinitely...I will get a break after the 6th round and I will be scanned every three months to monitor any further growths. I am hopeful that as long as I pace myself, eat and sleep properly and exercise to reduce the impact that daily or traumatic stress has. Yoga is on my list.
Next, I have to see the pharmacist to see if the Neuprogena needles will be covered by the Ontario Trillium Drug program since I have not heard from anyone since I applied 2 weeks ago through the Victory program (a program developed by the makers of Neulasta and Neuprogena) and the Drug Social worker at the hospital. The pharmacist informs me that there is no coverage. She speaks to the Victory program and they have let me know that my application to the Trillium drug program was declined?? It is not based on income?? I am quiet but upset as I explain to them that I do not have the kind of money to pay for the needles. They offer a 50% share of expenses which would still make the needles $1300 each. I only need 3 more to go. My savings are all gone from months of unemployment while attending school. He promises to call me back on my cell phone... which happens to ring in the middle of my class. I take the call as I walk towards the office just off of the classroom. Yes, they will cover my needles on compassionate grounds. I am trying not to start crying with relief. Thank you so much.
Being candid with my class and explaining how important the call was brought a young man over to speak to me after class. He informs me that his mother passed when he was 2 months old. She was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was pregnant. I told him that a mother who loves her child more than their own life would make such a decision to continue with the pregnancy despite the risk of a cancer growing rampant with the extreme increase in estrogen. I begin to tear up and he looks at me with the same watery eyes. He knew that it was either him or her and she chose him. I let him know how deeply sorry I was to hear of the loss of his mother. It was brave to come forward and to share something so difficult and he wanted to know how I could handle the chemo so well... I would like to know that too!!
I would like to dedicate this blog entry to all of you who have lost a Mom like this young man. I would also like to dedicate it to my husband who put his bike up for sale when he returned home after my appointment in hopes of raising enough money to pay for my medication.....I love you Max. I also dedicate this blog to Colleen who has gone through hours of mastectomy and reconstruction today.