“You’re not in chemotherapy treatment any more.”
When Dr. Curley said this yesterday, a smile lit up across his face. It was clear he was proud. Proud because he was sitting across from a womyn the same age as his wife, from a womyn who – just five months ago – flat-out told him she wasn’t doing chemo, from a womyn whose blood cell counts have been so low at times that postponed treatment and hospitalization were both genuine possibilities. Proud because – in spite of all this – that womyn was sitting in a chair across from him, alive and finished with the quadruple dose of chemotherapy injections that she endured every three weeks for the last four months.
“How am I not in chemotherapy treatment anymore? I still have to take Herceptin until November.”
He dismissed the thought with a wave of his hand. “Yeah, but that’s just a monoclonal antibody.”
“That’s just a medication we’re giving you for your HER2 protein, so we can keep the cancer cells from rapidly growing back.”
How is that not chemo? I thought this question but held back on asking it. I wasn’t sure if it was the chemobrain acting out … or my natural resistance to understanding anything science-related … either way, i felt stupid for asking, so i kept quiet.
He proceeded to tell me that the symptoms for Herceptin are “not that bad,” and he reminded me that I am “going to start to feel better soon.” Clearly, he noticed that i needed a mini-pep talk. It worked. While the weak smile that slowly spread across my lips (but not my eyes) did not match his 100-watt grin, it was a start.
And that pseudo sense of progress and optimism lasted until about 5:20 this morning, when I attempted to get up and get ready to return to work for the first time in a week.
Pain in between my expanders
Pain all along my right arm
This i understand. It’s clearly from my radiation mapping yesterday.
Nauseous when i move my head
Three trips to the bathroom in 50 minutes
Chills, then hot flash, then chills
Wait – what is happening? I thought i was done with chemotherapy sessions knocking me on my ass afterwards. How am i feeling these things when i am down to just taking Herceptin?
Ah. Makes a little more sense now.
I know Dr. Curley had his reasons for minimizing my potential side effects … but i wish he would have been straight with me. I was berating myself this morning for being a baby and calling out of work yet again. I felt guilty for not doing my job. I accused myself of playing up the victim role. I worried that calling out today without a doctor’s note might costs me my job. It took some text messaging with a co-worker and a Google search on Herceptin side effects before i could comfortably remind myself what i’m sure is obvious to everyone else but me right now: You’re fighting for your life here. #1 priority? Take care of YOU.