I had my first new treatment this past Monday and just woke up from a three hour nap. I am not sure if it is the chemo causing the fatigue or the fact that I didn’t sleep so well last night, but I’ll take it. Sleeping gives my body a break from the slight feeling of nausea that has been plaguing me so that’s a nice bonus. I’m lucky the nausea hasn’t been worse and I’ve been able to keep eating through it.
Treatment day started with a visit to my orthopedic surgeon, whom I love but also associate with the start of a very difficult time of my life. The x-rays of my leg were deemed ‘perfect’ and he cleared me to start physical therapy and get myself moving again. I hoped that meant the rest of the day would go smoothly and it generally did, except it was extremely long. Long wait to see my oncologist, missing bloodwork that had to be hunted down, and then finally settled into infusion chair with a freezing cold helmet on my hand designed to stave off hair loss. I have to wear this freezing cold helmet for 30 minutes prior to treatment, during the course of treatment which was 90 minutes, plus another 90 minutes after as well. Oh and then the nurse said well, yes it’s done but you have to wait another 10 minutes for it to defrost. Those last minutes just about broke me but once again I dug deep, reminded myself how much I hated being bald, put on another Taylor Swift song, and finished up. I did have a breakdown when the nurse was trying to get my IV in and we decided the best course of action was to get a port inserted. I’m not excited about that as it is yet another procedure but the pain and stress of vein access has simply become too much. I am concerned about having an allergic reaction to this medication as we are running out of options to keep me around. Chemo, even targeted chemo, is essentially poison and my body doesn’t take too kindly to being injected with poison. I don’t think anyone’s does but some bodies fare better than others. For as strong as my body can be, it also can freak out about things in a possibly catastrophic way.
I also have some big decisions to make about returning to work. Like most non-trust fund babies, I need the money and more importantly, the health insurance. But the idea of going back to work exhausts me. If I truly don’t have many years left, do I want to spend them tethered to a desk if I can find a way not to? I could go back to work, start accruing vacation time and what, take a trip later this year? Who knows how I’ll be feeling? I put off going to Italy for over six years — and when I finally did, I wondered why I had waited so long. (Partly due to a pandemic but still). I have a long living list of things I want to do and accomplish and in some ways, working will make it difficult to tick items off that list. But I’ve been working since I was 16 years old and something about not working makes me feel I’m admitting to this disease in a more substantial way. I have tried to view cancer as a chronic illness to be managed but lately, with all the progressions and bad news, I feel way less in control and more like the cancer is in the driver’s seat. Those feelings are terrifying and all-consuming but maybe they should be motivating me into action. To be determined, I guess.