It’s always some sort of ‘back again’. To chemo, to hospital, or to home. The constant cycle around and around.
This time, it’s back again into Ambulatory Care and The Cotton Rooms, my chemo week is on. Except that it’s not a week, not anymore. They’ve cut me down further to only two days.
TWO DAYS! That’s nothing. One night. Only 20% of the chemo dosage I started with. That’s scary. But my Oncologist said that neutropenic sepsis is scary and he doesn’t want to kill me with the chemo. I agreed, it’s not my first choice either. But surely it’s fine? I was fine? We’ve got a system now, right? No. Too risky by his standards. He offered me a rope to hold onto though – we’re going to add an extra cycle, 6 instead of 5. Three more cycles of two days instead of two more cycles of three. Ok, I’ll take that.
But but… I have friends who had neutropenic sepsis every time and theirs was never cut down. Last time I did it they never lessened my dosage…
I can speculate. It’s not like this is my first time, my body has already been through so much. Plus, this chemo isn’t curative – a fact I know but haven’t really come to terms with in any big way. My treatment doesn’t stop here, it keeps going on in some capacity for as long as I live, as long as there are options, as long as it keeps working, trying to slow the cancer for as long as possible, but never being able to remove it. We are just prolonging life, not saving it. It’s not like other circumstances where they barrage you with this ruthless chemo then cast you out to hopefully recover and never come back. My body has to keep taking more of whatever comes next. So yeah, ok, let’s try to protect it a bit. But I want that extra cycle.
The results of my last two (two!) MRIs aren’t back yet. The oldest one from a month ago. I’ve had five bloody MRIs in five months. And I don’t even know what they’re showing. Just another sign of how backed up the radiographers are, making up for all the people who weren’t scanned during Covid, who were put off and put off. My Onc said he’d chase them. However we do have one thing to go off, the results of the PET Scan I had at a less-than-enjoyable private clinic a couple of weeks back. Of course those results are back. None of these scans allow much other than guess-work, and one type on its own shows even less. But he said it looks like it’s responding to the treatment.
I am very aware that this is exactly what they said 4 years ago, the first time around. That the scans showed it was working. And that now the narrative around that has changed to ‘the chemo didn’t work, the cancer did not respond to the treatment.’ So we guess, we guess, and we take it all with a grain of salt. But as I sat waiting for the Oncologist on Monday, the thought had suddenly popped into my head – that he could have the results of the MRIs, that it could show that the cancer has grown and the treatment has done nothing. That once again, my world could be ending right now. That news will come one day, but it wasn’t this day. The results were hopeful, and so I decided to happily celebrate NO NEW BAD NEWS with a Zoom writing session with Rosa (and a hundred or so other random faces, as we often do) and a glass of raspberry gin (she’d called in the big guns and had a glass of champagne). It was pure joy.
Then Clarence and I packed up slightly less things than normal, considering we only had one night ahead of us, then faffed about in the morning drinking another cup of coffee, making a smoothie, before finally making our way in.
Ambulatory care is a type of home. It’s always waiting for me, ready for me to arrive. And I’m always greeted like the superstar I want to be. I get to see my nurses – I got one of my faves, Elaine connecting me up, so we had lots to catch up on. The vibes are always light and happy and while part of me feels resistant to be going in for more chemo (not that I don’t want to do it, just that I don’t really want to be doing it), the other part of me knows it’s also something to look forward to. And it’s the wonderful nurses that make that possible. Plus, only one night! That’s nothing!