I broke sixty rounds of chemotherapy.
The number seems somewhat surreal, as to imagine 60 continuous rounds of chemo is like trying to imagine a nightmare. Back to back, this is 300 days of continuous nausea, dry retching, and fatigue.
I’m glad these rounds were punctuated with some sense of normality, with some sense that I still have control of my life. I often see long stay surgical patients on the ward and wonder how they keep their spirits up, for whilst I get to have a reprieve between each round of chemo, they often do not. They often have months as an inpatient, two steps forward and one step back, its a different kind of patience needed to endure than the one I have had to develop.
People often remark to me how well I have done to achieve 60 rounds of chemo, but I’m reluctant to accept the accolades. I firmly believe that when people are given challenges, no matter how big they might seem, its an opportunity to rise to meet them. There are definitely those that still roll over and let life’s burdens weigh them down, I see them in the hospital regularly, but there are also those that defy belief, that in the face of adversity, in the face of misery, still meet life head on regardless of what is thrown at them
I couldn’t imagine in my wildest dreams of ever tolerating 60 rounds of chemotherapy, but somehow I have. It hasn’t been easy…
But right there is a lesson for life, if you give up, you will achieve exactly what you expect… nothing.
However if you keep pushing forward, even when it hurts, even if it seems pointless, you create purpose in the situation you thought was purposeless.
Sometimes purpose isn’t there to be found, its there to be made.
Sometimes purpose was staring us in the face all along and we forgot to look for it.
How have I got through 60 rounds of chemo? Because I can’t help but notice the purpose God has created in my life despite my circumstance.
Until next time….
I have now had 18 CT scans over the past 4 1/2 years.
The latest doesn’t bring the greatest of news. The liver lesion that has been shrinking over the past few scans seems to have stopped its response. The latest scan showed that it had increased from 10mm to 16mm over the past three months. Prior to that it was as big as 24mm, but had reduced down to 10mm over 6 months of chemotherapy. There is also ongoing slow growth in the retroperitoneal lymph nodes of 2-3mm per node per scan.
What does this mean?? Well, mainly it means that I am only just satisfying the criteria for stable disease. So for now, chemotherapy is continuing, but the next scan in 3 months time will very much be a green or red light for further chemotherapy. If there is clearly demonstrated non-response, my current treatment will likely come to an end, and if it is still stable, then chemo will continue.
If my current regime does stop, then there isn’t really any publicly funded treatments remaining available to me as options. The only possible new option is Avastin, but that isn’t funded in NZ for bowel cancer as it doesn’t change outcome, rather just the length of time until the same outcome. I’m not particularly interested in pursuing it in the private sector as it costs a ridiculous amount of money, and as far as I’m concerned, if it doesn’t change outcome, then the money would be better spent on other, more efficacious things (like vaccinating kids in the developing world for example).
All in all, what this basically means is that my disease is progressing as we all knew it would. The unique thing about my disease is that it is operating on its own timetable and not one that is easily predicted. Whilst population data would predict a 1 in 5 chance of being alive this time next year, that same data had the same prediction for me over the past 3 years. Its fair to say I am bucking the trend, but what it does mean is the future is unpredictable. It might mean slow progression, or rapid deterioration, its impossible to know.
The next scan in three months will be a cliffhanger.
Until next time…