Happy 3rd mets-aversary to me…

Yesterday Merwyn drove me up to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for my treatment. I prefer to go up there on the weekends whenever possible, since not only does no one have to miss work to take me, it’s also nice and quiet and FAST!

Yesterday was no exception. They “accessed” my port — meaning, a bored lab technician rubbed alcohol over the port/catheter-thing in my chest, then jammed a needle full of Lidocaine into it so that the REAL needle wouldn’t hurt, then jammed the big needle in (it didn’t hurt), then, took some blood, somehow got an IV in there, and just generally hovered awkwardly over me for about five or ten minutes. After my “labs” (which I didn’t even have to wait in the lobby for!), Merwyn and I rode the elevator up to Infusion on floor 5. Again, I didn’t have to wait; my little Olive Garden-esque pager buzzed almost immediately after I sat down in the waiting room, and I went right back to Bay 15, one of SCCA’s 35 or so private infusion rooms, for my Lupron and Zometa.

This is always the most boring part of treatment, in part because I often have to wait seemingly forever for both my medicine to arrive and my bloodwork to come back. But neither took too long this time.

Actually, the worst part about yesterday’s treatment was the Lupron. Which isn’t uncommon … even after “getting used to” shots, I still loathe them. Even Lupron, though, I tend to only think about in the brief moment it takes to give me the stupid shot. (Then, later on, it’s “why is this Band-Aid on me? … oh, yeah.”) However, I was sore up until this morning at my injection site, which … let’s just say, didn’t surprise me much after I saw my nurse reading an instruction manual before she finally gave me the injection. I think she was just trying to determine how long to warm up the medicine; still, I’d rather my nurses not find it necessary to glance at “how to” books for ANY reason when they’re about to jam a needle in me! At least it wasn’t as bad as my first Lupron shot (which is a horror story for another time).

As usual, the Zometa infusion proved uneventful … Merwyn and I sat for 20 minutes while a machine dripped Zometa into my IV. Then (after the machine beeped it was finished), the nurse came and unhooked it; then she flushed and de-accessed my port (i.e. cleaned it with saline and took the IV out), and Merwyn and I were on our way! Before I went to bed last night, I took my Femara (the pink pill I take every night); like the Lupron, it suppresses estrogen, whereas Zometa keeps my bones nice and strong.

That’s it; that’s treatment for me, except I only get the Zometa and Lupron every THREE months now. Most days, you can take out everything above except for:

“I took my Femara”

… and that’s my treatment. Pretty boring, right? Now you know why I can’t keep up a cancer blog!

Actually, today is a significant day in my “cancer journey.” It was exactly three years ago today that my horrid then-oncologist broke the news to me over the phone: both the spot on my spine (revealed in a recent routine CT scan) and a second spot on my pelvis showed evidence of metastatic disease. In other words, not only had my cancer returned, because it had spread to my bones I was now Stage IV. The “worst” of the stages. “Beating cancer” was no longer an option for me. Once somebody has Stage IV cancer, it’s pretty much established that they can be treated, but never cured.

Well … for whatever it’s worth, that treatment sure seems to be working in my case! Three years later, I still haven’t had any progression. Not only that, the spot on my pelvis seemed to disappear almost instantly (it didn’t show up on my first follow-up scan, and hasn’t shown up since) and even the spot on my spine has remained stable. Granted, it’s been ten months since my last set of scans; but that’s only because my current oncologist (who’s great; I started treatment at SCCA about three months after my “mets” diagnosis) determined that I only need scans once a year for now. I’ll get my next ones sometime in February.

Honestly, even with bone mets (which are generally considered less threatening than mets to the organs) it’s pretty unusual for somebody to be doing this well after three years. Not that I’m complaining! I won’t go so far as to say that having Stage IV cancer doesn’t affect my life (or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, that it’s been some great “blessing”) but I WILL say that I feel lucky (for it’s sure not for any great effort on my part that I’m doing so well!) and blessed (in life, not by cancer!), and that I must have one heck of a “shotgun angel” riding with me all this way.

Speaking of blessings and angels, I must log off WordPress and go get ready … Merwyn and I are going down to the Washington Center for the Performing Arts to see Handel’s Messiah in less than an hour!

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7 Comments

  1. dad

     /  12/19/2011

    cancer isn’t funnny, but parts of your blog made me laugh. you are such a great writer. i love you.

    dad

    get my next chest x-ray in january

    Reply
  2. HALLELUJAH!

    Reply
  3. Tina

     /  12/19/2011

    It is nice to read your story in regards to how you are doing and dealing with having stage IV cancer. I love reading yours and Merwyn’s updates and posts on your lives. You two have such an upbeat perspective and a lot of love for each other and life. Keep being strong, and I will keep you in my prayers.

    Reply
  4. Heeka

     /  12/19/2011

    Your descriptions of the treatments were interesting (I’m sure they’re not fun, but it’s interesting to read what they do, and you described it well). I’m glad the treatments are going well.

    Reply
  5. I’m with your dad (on the writing) and with Shawn (Hallelujah!). And now I’ve got a WordPress account so I can comment on your blogging ! You know, I took Lupron at times, usually just before an in vitro…a little shot in the stomach. (They needed to suppress estrogen at times to get my cycle in synch etc.). Strange to think of these two wildly different uses. I also want to say that I think you DO deserve credit for your continuing stability. You surround yourself with friends, family and pets … you live in a cute little house ;-), a space in time that you and Merwyn helped make happen, with goals of owning … you (along with Thomas Edison and other smart people who can swing it) sleep when you feel like it … you own your own emotions … you write … all these things are incredible for the immune system. You are an inspiration and more than a miracle. I’m lucky to have you in my life.

    Reply
  6. I hope you enjoyed the concert—“Hallelujah!” The chorus is always fun to sing along with, if the performance encourages it. But I’m glad you’re doing well. I hope there’s only good news to come!

    Reply
  1. Happy New Year, now read Writin’ Shotgun « kalhoun

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