The new life that I've had since I have been diagnosed has definitely taught me that each day is different. As bad as one day can be, the next can be great. We all have our struggles and unfortunately this is mine. But for once, after a bad scan I haven't totally fallen down the rabbit hole. I'm not sure if it's because I'm just used to the process of picking myself up, dusting off and trying to live positively again, or if I've really grown as a person. It's hard, but it just happens.
This week I met with my doctor again to discuss everything and I didn't cry! Which is a major accomplishment. I even made a joke...asking him to "turn off" the cancer in me since they are able to "turn on" cancer genes in rats, I figured they could do the same in me and I'll be done with this mess. Should be an easy task, right? I wish.
He had me list all the chemo regeimins I have been on since July of 2009 and it's a mouthful: AVBD, ICE, BEAM, Gemzar, C-OPP, Rituxan, Bendamustine, Vincristine, and the newest, Adcetris. I mean, ridiculous, right? I remember each one, when I took them, the side effects, everything. And most of the chemos were back to back with little rest in between. AVBD was the first chemo I had and while I felt nauseous sometimes, I continued to bop along and live my life. It wasn't until I was on ICE that I realized, yes I do have cancer and this is what chemo feels like. It was the absolute worst and to this day if I hear or see the word Estoposide (the E in ICE), I feel sick to my stomach...ugh, I didn't even like typing it!
So, my doctor said that the mission right now is to control the disease. The cells have figured out a way to become resistant to all the drugs we've thrown at it and in the process the drugs have beat up my body. So we have to find a happy medium between controlling the disease and not making me sicker. Adcetris, the newest drug, had the least side effects and I felt ok on it most days. It's funny how the body forgets, a year ago I was short of breath and could barely walk to the subway station without crying because I was so weak. Now I practically run to the subway because I'm always running late and I take it for granted. Since I'm feeling pretty good these days and the devious cancer cells have become resistant to the drugs, my doctor decided to give me a break from chemo for a while. I will continue to take the oral medication at home (yay! no IV) and in 3 months we will reassess. The oral meds work slow so we're not sure what result I may have...although I have been feeling dull chest pains, very similar to what I felt on Adcetris, so something is either shrinking or growing in there. If I'm doing well on the oral medication--it's called Revlimid (I'm going to have a biology degree when this is all done and I HATE science...or I guess now I love it since it's saving my life? Weird.) Anyway, if it's working, we'll keep me on it. The theory is that the further I get away from chemo, the better I will feel, so 6 months or 9 months from now, we can blast it with chemo again and that may do the trick. That's the plan for now, but ya know, things always change. And the silver lining is that I still have less disease now (it's kind of scattered in small spots throughout my chest) than I did in the beginning.
The thing I love about my doctor is that he's very collaborative and willing to work with other experts in the field to get their opinions. So when the time comes to reassess, he may send me to Texas or Seattle for other opinions. This is all so crazy, you would never know I was sick if you saw me on the street, yet there are demon cancer cells inside of me everyday and I think I still have problems believing it sometimes. But such is my life!