|Getting prepped for chemo round one.|
My cancer was sent to California a couple weeks ago for Oncoltype DX testing, which basically tests how likely it is your cancer is going to return. This was all part of a study that I was offered to take part in because tests showed my cancer was estrogen-receptor positive, and it was present in less than three lymph nodes (two, for the record).
Anyway, the test revealed a couple things:
- My cancer is not estrogen-receptor positive.
- My cancer is pretty fucking aggressive, enough that when I saw the score (45 out of 100), I said, "Fuck!" to which my oncologist replied, "Yeah, that's pretty much what I thought." If my cancer was estrogen positive, my score would have needed to be 25 or less to continue in the study, so mine is well above that bar.
The good thing is now I know what I'm dealing with. Plus I won't be given estrogen-blocking drugs which would be completely useless for me, not to mention a burden on my very basic extended health benefits (which will probably be depleted by the time I'm done the drugs that are supposed to help me through chemo).
Because my surgeon diligently removed all visible signs of my cancer, chemo is my insurance that the microscopic cells that could have been missed in all parts of my body will be annihilated. It will cut the risk of my cancer recurring in half, to about 20-25%. So that's a 75-80% chance it will not come back (glass 3/4-4/5 full)!
So, as I said to my oncologist, "Chemo me."
The ugly, aka fear
Chemo brings with it a lot of fear. Fear of looking like I have cancer, even though technically I don't (at least not any that modern technology can see). And this is because of one of the many, many side effects I have been told about by my oncologist, the nurse at today's chemo teaching session, and my nurse at the chemo unit.
The side effects are plentiful, and terrible. Actually, even though it will make me look sick, I'd rather lose my hair than experience vomiting, mouth sores, increased risk of infection, potential heart damage, and the list goes on.
I'll actually be nipping the hair thing in the bud by visiting my hairdresser for a shave. She's one of the first people I called after yesterday's craptactular news. My middle digit right back at the situation.
Why I might not answer the phone
It likely didn't help that the woman next to me in the treatment room told me about her terrible side effects. She basically got them all, plus one weird foot-pain one that only 5% of people get.
I was wondering if I should tell her I didn't want to talk about it when she said, "But you're a lot younger than me. So you're stronger, so you might not have these problems." I get that she was venting, but man. Here's hoping she's right.
So if you're my friend in the offline world, and I don't answer the phone, it's because I really don't want to talk about it right now. In particular, I don't want to talk about side effects, the chances I'm going to die before my kid is out of kindergarten, and all that heavy stuff. Right now, going there serves no purpose to me. Writing about it, on the other hand, is a bit easier.