Tomorrow I will start the IV chemo, Taxotere, along with the oral medication, Xeloda. This combination is designed to work together and gives my medical oncologist some flexibility. While I get the need to get ahead of the cancer cells that were not materially affected by my last line of treatment, the knowledge that I will once again endure IV chemo hasn’t been something to anticipate with anything close to positivity.
When I was initially diagnosed in March of 2017, we believed that I was Stage II and treatment would be something that would occupy some time that summer and would be quickly left behind, not unlike my mother’s experience. We believed it was a season to be endured and then put away. And so that’s the way I approached IV chemo the first time. I would grit my teeth, deal with the hair loss and other awful side effucks and then never look back.
Oh how perspectives have changed.
Now, I will walk into the infusion center tomorrow hoping that these first six sessions, occurring every three weeks, will be sufficient for now, expecting that I’ll be willingly signing up for as many other sessions as my medical oncologist suggests, while taking the oral medication as well and for as long as possible. This is a HUGE change from the perspective of just trying to get through a season; now this is my entire reality, staying in treatment as long as they work and praying for the treatment to work for as long as possible, even if it’s miserable.
Just as with the scans that I endure every three (3) months, walking into the infusion center tomorrow isn’t just about not knowing what to fully expect, it’s also about knowing a bit about what to expect.
Chemoxiety, I guess, just like Scanxiety.
I’ve watched so many of my dear friends start down this road, where treatments don’t work and chemo is started. It’s not that I don’t know what is coming, maybe not for a bit, but certainly sooner than I’d hoped. While every story is different, each story ends the same way, no matter how involved or engaged or stubborn or accepting the patient is during the treatment. All of us will be consumed and killed by this disease and the return to chemo is a bad sign, it is the wrong direction to go.
And so I will walk into that infusion room tomorrow. I will walk into that room and I will willingly allow them to pump poison into my veins, knowing the side effects that are coming and the toll it will take on my body and my family. I will do that tomorrow because that’s how I get more time with my family. Walking into that infusion center and taking what comes after is how I stay alive as long as possible.
Even if it sucks.