The Cancer Band Plays On

We had a PET scan on September 30. On October 7, we received the results: the latest round of chemotherapy had not halted the progression of the cancer. My oncologist suggested MD Anderson, but then he thought they might be able to get a Phase 1 clinical trial at Texas Oncology. While we waited in the exam room, a clinical research nurse came in with all kinds of information. Phase 1 meant they knew the drug would fight cancer, but they didn’t know how much a person could tolerate. I haven’t gotten the official word that the Phase 1 trial has been approved (or more accurately, that I have been accepted for it), but it’s only been a week since we first heard about it. This Phase 1 trial is actually immunotherapy, not chemotherapy, and it’s supposed to be a cutting-edge treatment in the fight against cancer. The idea is that this medication helps boost your immune system so that it’s fighting off the cancer. It’s supposed to be targeted treatment and has shown to work in esophageal cancer.

Meanwhile, it’s been three weeks since my last treatment. Some of the side effects have gone away, though the side effects weren’t as severe this time around. I’m still tired and am prone to being cold, and I’m still vomiting much more than I would like.

I really don’t have much of an appetite and I’m considering turning back to smoothies and/or milk shakes just to make life easier. I have to force myself to eat; I’ve dropped a few pounds. In fact, if I wait too long between meals, I’ll have nausea and expel a lot of built-up gas. Now, doesn’t that sound glamorous? I do eat a lot of cold cereal, but that’s because the milk feels good going down and I don’t have to cook anything. My runny nose (which would sometimes bleed) has largely cleared up. I wonder if I picked up something sinus-related, since I’m dealing with some yucky sinus by-products. No mouth sores at this time, which is always a good thing. My balance isn’t great because of the numbness (which is also clearing up) so I tend to wear my rubber-soled Crocs around the house to prevent slipping.

All in all, I’m feeling okay. Not great, but okay. I’m sorry I had to miss our family reunion this past weekend, but I get tired so easily and a 4oo-mile round trip didn’t seem to be the best idea right now. Perhaps – and I can hear others saying ‘We told you so‘ – I wouldn’t be quite so tired on the weekends if I got more rest during the week.

I’m very fortunate to have such a strong support group around me. My husband is wonderful and positive, though I know my illness is taking its toll on him. In fact, when I mentioned my regret at missing the reunion, he said that I could go next year. He looked at me directly and said, “You’ll be here.” That keeps echoing through my mind. Each week, I receive lovely cards from friends to give me encouragement. I’m anxious right now because things seem on hold, but I’ll be relieved when we get a routine going again with treatment.



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