Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
This past Wednesday was a NYC family trip a la the Griswolds minus my little brother who is surely studying hard at school. Despite the chilling cold, my parents, sister and I spent the morning walking around the holiday market and watching the ice skaters at Bryant Park. It was beautiful but also mildly torturous as snaking around the artist booths were the incredible smells of kettle corn, hot cocoa, crepes and sausage dogs. Normally this would be wondrous, but I was on a six-hour fast before my PET Scan. A water-only diet equals sheer torture.
We then walked along 5th Ave. admiring the holiday windows down to Rockefellar where we got to see the lights on the big tree and it was there that I left my family to further explore while I hopped in a cab to Sloan-Kettering. There was no need for everyone to sit in the waiting room with me. And, it was a good thing they didn't as the nuclear medicine center was running nearly two hours late. It certainly gave me plenty of time to thaw from the raw cold we had been in.
I drank the red concoction yet again but it actually tasted much better. The nurse alerted me that they no longer use Crystal Light, but instead, a raspberry flavor mixture from Starbucks. Ah, luxury. They started an IV in my arm and injected the radioactive fluid that would illuminate my innards and there I sat reading my book for an hour until it was time to head into the tunnel.
It's wildly uncomfortable in there and for some reason I had more anxiety than I've ever had. I laid on the narrow table and they gave me a blanket to cover myself while I shimmied my pants down past my knees so that my metallic zipper and buttons wouldn't affect things. This is normal protocol, but on that day, I was also wearing a set of long underwear as it was a high of 29 degrees. Pulling all of these layers down to the tops of my fuzzy winter boots while on my back without exposing myself to the tech was an acrobatic feat.
Finally all was settled and I lay with my arms above my head. Thirty minutes without moving. The CT Scan came first where they pushed me in and out of the tube a couple of times to snap photos then injected dye into my IV, which sends an instant flush of heat through the body. It made me feel like I had just wet myself, which I very well could have after drinking all of that fluid. But I didn't. It's a normal reaction.
Normally I just fall asleep once the machine starts whirring for the PET Scan portion. But this time, I wanted out. For some reason, the tube seemed smaller than ever, the velcro straps tighter than ever around my legs, and I wanted to just scream. Suddenly I had to itch everything and had a frog in my throat that I couldn't clear. All I could do was think of Ze Frank's chillout song reprise: "Hey, you're okay. You'll be fine. Just breathe." over and over and over until the narrow table pulled me out of the tube for the final time. Maybe deep inside I knew that in fact I wasn't okay.
I felt even worse afterward. All of the dye and contrast and such made me nauseous on an empty stomach and I just wanted to meet back up with my family. It was now 5:30 p.m. Dark. Freezing, freezing cold. And worst of all, shift change time for cabbies. No one wants to get someone in their car for too long of a trip before it's their time to go home. Finally, I was able to hail one and huddled into its warmth and the kindness of the driver as we remarked about the 99 cent pizza slice joint and how their business plan could possibly work.
I found my family back at Grand Central, which was a bustling mania of commuters. I couldn't even speak to them before I shoved a few bites of mango salsa chicken burrito down my throat. I parked it next to a homeless man and his big garbage bag as he rocked, talked and sang to himself. I did not care in the least I was so hungry and so tired. The train ride then car ride home was peaceful and full of laughter as I merged in and out of fits of sleep and kookiness.
Not so peaceful was my back. It had been in undulating pain in seething spurts for about a week, aggravated even more by the long periods of sitting and stillness. I had taken a sudden turn for the worse after my ultra positive feelings of just a week prior. In the evening especially I had developed a pain at the top of my left leg that would shoot and pulse all the way down the length of it and leave me helpless with no stretch that would touch it. The pain woke me up that night at my parents' house as it had for several nights before. To add insult to injury, I've been sporting a mirror pain on my right upper back for about three weeks now. Again, not constant, but when it comes, it lets you know it's there.
Thursday was spent nursing this and waiting in agony for the doctor to call with the scan results. It's not like that's a difficult thing at all ... . It's not like I took my cell phone into the bathroom with me every time. It's not like I wrapped it up in a towel and balanced it on the tub edge when I just couldn't put off taking a shower any longer. It's not like I walked around with it in my back pocket all day and checked the screen every 20 minutes. Oh wait, yes I did.
It wasn't until nearly 7 p.m. that I got the call. A call I probably could have done without. At that point I knew that it was going to be bad. In my vast experience when I don't hear results until very late in the day that means the doctor has been conferring with his/her colleagues, looking it over thoroughly, maybe grappling with how to break the news. I ran up to Craig's workshop above the garage where he was doing some woodwork and put the phone on speaker so that we could each hear what Dr. Moskowitz had to say. It was freezing up there but it didn't matter because as soon as she said that the scans looked "puzzling," my whole body went numb.
Craig diligently took notes on a pink lined Post-It note while I mumbled back "uh huhs" and "hmmms" back to her. After some beating around the bush, the report was that previously involved lymph nodes had shrunk some in size, but were still showing Hodgkin's activity. In addition, some new hot spots appeared on my vertebrate and left rib. This was stunning and nauseating to hear.
When I told her about the back pain – something I probably should have reported earlier but didn't want to deal with – she was highly concerned. She wanted to make sure that the cancer lighting up on my vertebrate was not compressing any nerves. If it was, I could be left with permanent weakness and irreversible damage to my body. It was decided that I would go back to Sloan the next morning as early as possible and enter through their Urgent Care/Emergency area where I would need to get an urgent MRI. If it showed that nerve damage was occurring, immediate hospital admission and radiation to those areas would be needed. Dr. Moskowitz apologized in advance that it wouldn't be a fast nor pleasant experience, but that it was the quickest way to get immediate scan admission. Again, more nausea and bewilderment.
After I hung up the phone and put away my "professional" brave voice I lost it. There was a lot of crying, a lot of F-bombs thrown. Some kicking and doubling over. Craig even reverted to showing me pictures of puppies but even that couldn't console me. He was also at a loss and visibly upset. I couldn't even function. I just curled up in the corner of the couch and turned on the TV. To my delight, Charlie Brown Christmas was on and I lost myself in the story's innocence.
But I made it through ... snowflake print Johnny over skinny jeans and all. As is everything else, it was only temporary. My biggest concentration during it was remaining as still as I possibly could for fear of messing up the picture and having to repeat the scan. I was wheeled back down by a sweet, sweet man named Richard to the pod closet in which Craig was waiting.
Another two hours and the doctor came to tell me that the radiologists had read the results and that things looked clear. There was no immediate danger to any of my nerves. It's likely that the pain I've been experiencing is from shifting disks in my back pinching nerves intermittently. It seemed that the doctor and the nurse were just as excited as we were and were eager to expedite our discharge.
Once again, I hadn't been able to eat and Craig had only picked at the breakfast box we had been given. We both randomly wanted Pizzeria Uno so badly and for some reason thought that getting off a mall exit off of I-684 on the Friday night before Christmas was a good idea. We sat in gridlock adding another hour to our ride but the deep dish pie and Caesar salad was so worth it. We slept very hard Friday night when we finally made it back home.
While all of this has been happening, my oncologist has been writing an individual study specific to my case in the hopes of obtaining a yet-to-be FDA approved drug on a compassionate use basis. The drug is called SGN-35. It's a targeted missile drug, unlike normal chemotherapy and different in its makeup than anything I've ever had before. It actually seeks out and destroys the type of cells known to exist in Hodgkin's rather than just arbitrarily attacking all fast-growing cells in the body.
SGN-35 is a hot ticket drug that was all the rage at this year's American Society of Hematologists conference and in Scientific American magazine. Dr. Dailey, Dr. Cooper, and all the doctors at Sloan have mentioned it to me as the next step should the Bendamustine prove ineffective – which apparently it has.
The drug is a huge breakthrough that's very close to being a mainstream treatment for Hodgkin's patients. However, it's not there yet and there are no open clinical trials anywhere in the nation that I qualify for. The hope now is that the pharmaceutical company that possesses it will have compassion for my situation and release it into the hands of my doctors. Right now, Dr. Moskowitz is diligently making my case. And here I sit doing what I do best ... waiting.
Friday, December 17, 2010
The areas that showed as hot spots (denoting likely cancer activity) in my scan two months ago have shrunk some, but are still lighting up with activity. What's more concerning is that there are some new hot spots on the vertebrate of my spine and on my left rib.
I've been experiencing tremendous pain in my very upper left leg with shooting pains all the way down my leg on and off for about five days now. I also have a lot of pain and inflammation in my upper right back, which has lasted a while.
Because of these symptoms and the hot spots on the scan, my doctor ordered an emergency MRI so that we can immediately assess what is going on. So, Craig and I drove back to Sloan today and now I am here in the urgent care center waiting to get the scan done. The MRI test will be able to more accurately reveal what is happening and will be more definitive as to whether it is cancer.
If in fact it is cancerous lymph nodes pressing on nerves, I'll be admitted today and we'll start radiation to those spots immediately as permanent weakness and irreparable damage can be caused if we let it grow. If it is some fluke, then hopefully I can go home today.
Whatever it is, I'll find out by later this afternoon. I'm deeply disappointed that the Bendamustine isn't working as expected. I'm very tired and very anxious, but we're keeping entertained and holding onto hope.
Monday, December 13, 2010
People – friends, family and medical staff alike – constantly say to me: "Well, you look great," or if it's over the phone, "Well, you sound good." And I always wonder what their expectations were. Then I realize that on paper, yes, it makes sense that for what I have going on in my body and how aggressive this cancer and this treatment is, I should look like an ashen walking corpse, but that is simply not the case.
Despite how widespread cancer is in the world, there seems to still be such a stigma around the word that elicits a lot of fear and mental images of people spending every waking moment vomiting, weak and morose dangling from their last thread of life. When in fact, so many people are living, yes, living with cancer. Living despite the disease in their body.
Anytime I'm in a crowd at a sports game or the mall or at a play, I am always wondering how many other cancer survivors/fighters there are surrounding me that I would never be able to pinpoint. We don't all look alike. We don't all feel the same way. The word "cancer" is just far too general to describe the intricacies and uniqueness of the different forms that it can take. There is no one picture of what a cancer patient is supposed to look like.
That's the funny thing about cancer. It can wreck havoc internally but not show anything outwardly. How can I fault anyone for not knowing what to say when they see me for the first time in a long time? Or, when I drop the cancer bomb because they have no idea what's been happening in my life. There is no "right" thing to say.
Saying anything is better than saying nothing at all, even if it's just saying: "I just don't know what to say." To again quote Randy Pausch, as his father always told him: "When there is an elephant in the room, introduce it." I try to be sure to acquaint people with my elephant when I can see they are struggling with whether or not to acknowledge the figurative animal for fear of upsetting me. It doesn't upset me. I know it's there and I appreciate when people express their empathy and support. But pity? Now that's something I don't appreciate.
I laugh because despite how curious it is for me to hear, I catch myself saying to other patients: "Well, you look fantastic!" all the time, because you know what? It's true. And maybe it sounds trite and maybe it can be perceived that it's discounting what they're going through, but I think any cancer patient can benefit from a little ego boost, especially when we are hurting so badly on the inside. No matter what might be happening biologically, the spirit still shines through brightly. That is something that can't be overtaken by sunken eyes and pale skin. Sometimes it takes someone else to point that out.
I read an excerpt by writer and performer Jenny Allen, author of the one-woman play: "I Got Sick Then I Got Better." She was also a patient at Sloan-Kettering and was featured in the hospital newsletter. I don't agree with everything she says, but I think it's refreshing and extremely brave for her to speak about what it was like for her to hear the sometimes profound, sometimes odd things people chose to say to her and about her resulting reactions, which totally depended on her mood that day – something I can completely relate to. Talk about acknowledging the elephant in the room.
Cancer patients aren't just the feeble, bald, hopeless beings that Lifetime movies are made of. We're still people. We're still living. And yes, damn right, we can still look damn good.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
"Rise" by Eddie Vedder from Into the Wild:
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
“We got your bloodwork today and see that it’s still low, but we’re going to try something,” she said. “I’m being for real. Right before you get your finger pricked we want you to jump up and down for 15 seconds.”
I told her that yes, that was random, but that I’d do it for sure; that’d I’d do handstands, cartwheels, jumping jacks, whatever it took to be able to get the treatment that I needed. She explained that some of the oncologists had discovered that getting the heart rate up immediately before the blood is drawn can have an endorphin effect which can spike the platelet results. The act can shake things up and force the cells to multiply – if only temporarily. It had worked for another woman on my study and we were hopeful that it would for me to.
So, we grabbed our now nearly permanently packed bags and were on the 7:57pm train to New York City. We didn’t want to deal with a 4am wakeup the next day and luckily had not yet canceled our Miracle House reservation.
Tuesday morning I pulled on my jumping boots and we made the trek across Manhattan. While waiting for my name to be called, Craig pulled me into a side hallway. Little did I know, he had queued up the Rocky theme and was very serious in his coaching role. “Gonna Fly Now” played through his iPhone and he encouraged me to start bouncing. I did a combination of awkward jumping jacks and aerobic steps all the while knowing patients, doctors, nurses could turn the corner at any moment to find the Richard Simmons worthy scene we were creating. He had me going until I broke a sweat and had to strip down to a t-shirt. I was pumped.Then we heard my name. I explained to the lab tech that I needed to do a few more jumping jacks while she laid out the needle, gauze and Band-Aid.
“Oh sure; whatever it takes,” she exclaimed excitedly and began to dance and laugh right along with me.
I upped the 15 second recommendation to 1:30 seconds watching the red second hand tick as I flayed about then plopped into the chair for the finger prick. The tech was ready with the needle and vile.
Craig and I waited anxiously under the blinding white lights of the doctor’s exam room.
The door opened slowly and in popped a red faced and beaming Dr. Moskowitz who proclaimed: “Happy Thansgiving! You’re getting treatment!"
We all cheered like goofballs as she read the lab results with the platelet count of 78. Brynn poked in to give a yelp as well. Dr. Moskowitz then revealed to me that had it taken one more day for my platelets to reach 75 I would have had to been pulled off the study. I don’t even want to think about what that would have meant as this is the drug that I need. There are very, very few – if any – other tricks in the bag. I am glad that I didn’t know this tidbit beforehand. That was a very wise omission of info on her part as I had been uneasy enough about being off treatment for seven weeks.
It was so odd to want something so desperately that I knew would leave me hurting so badly. It was a massive relief for all of us. Besides that nagging desire to live, scientifically, the team at Sloan of course wants me on the study so that they can watch me meet success, so that they can prove that this course of treatment works and so that they can help other patients in the future. It’s strange to think of myself in these terms and of course these are not terms ever spoken by my medical team, but I am a rare scientific specimen. I am in a clinical trial for a reason. They need my data. They need to study me. I need to live and I am putting my life in the hands of this medical science. I am more than willing to do whatever it takes and hope that everything that I am going through will make it that much easier for the next person.
The chemo infusion itself went without a hitch. Dr. Moskowitz ordered a slightly reduced dosage, which the study allows for in the second round. The Benadryl they require made me groggy and woozy but the 40 minutes went quickly.
Riding the usual steroid induced high, Craig and I did some exploring in the city’s design district. We spent hours perusing through the visual wonderland that is ABC Carpet and Home taking in floor after floor of creative, artistic interior décor. Every single thing in that place is a conversation piece in and of itself. Then we snacked on rock hard NYC pretzels from a cart and stumbled upon a huge open-air holiday market in Union Square. Under every tent was a different artisan with something mind bending, intriguing and unique to explore.
Suddenly the steroids wore off and the Bendamustine in. My legs started to swell and give out and my head became very heavy. It was time for my prince to escort me “home.” Both chilled and flushed from the long day I burrowed into the bed covers in our Miracle House room to indulge in a much needed before-dinner nap.
We then gathered with a group of nearly 20 other patients and caregivers staying at MH that evening for our biggest group dinner yet. We all ducked out from the cold November air and into the reserved tables at Pom Pom diner. We shared a booth with a fascinating woman from Nebraska who is a calligrapher, an educator and an arts and books lover among many things. We had very much in common, and it was comforting to hear about what she’s learned and experienced through taking care of her ailing father – a retired English professor. There were many others there too. Some knew already that they would remain in the city through the holiday. Others were packing up to make the trek home to their families with plans to come back for their next treatments, procedures, and adventures.
On top of the post-chemo symptoms, a cold had set in and my nose was continually running just as much as I was sneezing. Sleep was hard to come by and my nose had become raw from the continual tissue rubbing. But it was up and at ‘em early again on Thanksgiving Eve for infusion number two. My ever- patient husband waited away the hours with me as my chemo was mixed until I was finally “served.”
The train ride home was packed wall to wall with people, baby strollers, suitcases, and shopping bags. Every seat was taken and even the vestibules were full all the way along the New Haven line. We were fortunate to have gotten to Grand Central early enough to get a seat of our own. It was a beautiful thing to watch the human dynamics. Despite how cramped it was, I witnessed so many people helping to hoist others’ bags on the racks above their heads, giving up seats for the elderly, helping women with strollers to navigate between the cars. It made me smile between sneezes and chemo flush waves to think about who and where they were traveling to and what it would be like when they got there. Would their Thanksgiving table be a Turdukin or a Tofurkey table? How long had it been since they’d seen their families last? Were they looking forward to or dreading the reunions?
Despite how awful I felt and how desperately I wanted to be curled with Sammy on my couch, my chest was filled with a palpable fullness of contentment and astounding gratefulness to have my husband’s shoulder to sleep on and so many more loved ones to look forward to sharing the holiday with.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
After an hour drive south, we stayed with Craig's aunt in Trumbull Wednesday night who then graciously escorted us to the Metro North train station to get us into the city the next morning. We took an early 90-minute train in so that we could make it from Grand Central to Miracle House to drop our suitcase and get back across Manhattan to Sloan-Kettering to make a 9:45 a.m. appointment with the oncologist. Needless to say all of the packing, schlepping, car ride, train ride and taxi rides was exhausting.
I had my finger pricked for a CBC (complete blood count) check per usual then was ushered in to meet with Dr. Craig Moskowitz, as opposed to my usual doc, Alison Moskowitz (no relation) who was rounding last week. His fellow came in and checked me over and I recapped the myriad
symptoms I'd experienced over the three-week recovery period. Then the doctor came in and we did the same. He was obviously wicked smart and incredibly breezy about everything. He didn't feed into the need that Craig and I have to try to control everything about my care: Will we
do another round even though I have chest swelling? Will the transplant team be ready as soon as I have a clear scan? What about trying another drug with a shorter recovery period?
I think he got quite a kick out of us, this young question-firing couple. The doctor looked me straight in the eye, took a deep breath, smiled and said: "You know your body best. Don't worry. We know what we're doing and we're not going to let anything happen to you." It was such a simple reminder to just breathe and to realize that I am in one of the best places in the world to be treated at and that I am working with the best of the best medical staff. He, in particular, has a huge reputation in the lymphoma world and authored the study that I am on. I was a bit humbled.
He ordered the chemo and Craig and I headed to the chemo suite waiting room where we settled in for what we knew would be a long wait after our experience the previous month. We had DVDs, games and books at the ready. But before we could even start up the laptop, one of the
session assistants came over to me and whispered that I was wanted back in suite 1, that I wasn't going to be receiving treatment.
My heart sank and I was in complete shock, immediately filing through what possibly could have happened, a slight terror shuttering through me. I honed in on the fact that the little finger prick I had received early in the morning had elicited enough blood to sufficiently soak through the layered gauze and eek through the Band-Aid that was wrapped around it. I came to the hypothesis that my platelets must be very low. Damn it.
We got back to the suite and were immediately grabbed by an unfamiliar nurse who pulled us into a teeny room full of files and computers and told us to wait for the doctor. I heard her say to someone outside the door who was questioning our presence there: "It's just for a minute. It's a very special circumstance." Craig and I looked at each other with the panicked: what the hell is going on? look.
Dr. Moskowitz popped his head in with the update: "Your platelets are too low."
Ah, I was right. Platelets are the blood cells that help blood stick together and clot. If there are not enough of them present in my bloodstream and I were to cut or badly bruise myself, I could bleed to death. He explained that my count registered at 45 K/mcL (reference range 160-400 K/mcL). On the study, it is written not to treat someone under 75 and he explained that even if I wasn't on the study, he would never give a patient another round of Bendamustine with a platelet count under 50. No chemo for me. I wouldn't be able to get a platelet transfusion either. What I needed was time for my numbers to recover naturally.
"We'll try again next week," he said through a smile and told me to get my blood counts checked locally the day before and have them faxed. As instructed, I had been doing this once per week for the three weeks prior, but my counts had held and apparently none of us imagined that I'd suddenly drop so low four weeks after treatment. This was supposed to be treatment week.
This was frustrating, very frustrating. And even though I wouldn't be receiving chemo, there was still lots of waiting to be had. As a post-autologous stem cell transplant patient I still have to receive monthly Pentamidine breathing treatments to prevent me from contracting PCP pneumonia. We waited. And waited. And waited for my name to be called by the respiratory therapist. Soon I began to go batty. We were both exhausted, disappointed and frustrated, so much so that I just kept laughing for no reason and kept pretending my iPhone was a taser and "zapping" Craig with it, which kept me very entertained. Reading, writing, games were all far too much to concentrate on. Hearing Craig say back: "Don't taze me, bro" a few times over was much funnier.
Two-and-a-half hours later I was brought into a little room and zipped up in a plastic tent just wide enough to envelope me and my chair – similar to E.T. when he's being examined by all of those scary scientist men. I sucked the medicated mist from my plastic peace pipe until the 20 minute treatment was over and I could be unzipped and released out into the world.
We crashed hard after a taxi ride back to Miracle House. We stayed the night and made the most of it. Plus, we were in one of the newly renovated apartments at MH – very hip. After a big nap broken only by the incessant honks of the backed up cars in 43rd street rush hour, we watched Toy Story 3 then meeting up with good friends for dinner at Five Napkin Burger - a super trendy joint in Hell's Kitchen. Laughs, shared stories, and mile high burgers helped alleviate the frustration.
Now it's back to the city in T-2 days for a second attempt at this.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Week 1: lukewarm hell – the debilitating fatigue, head fogginess, acid reflux, indigestion, constipation, and overwhelming malaise left me to do nothing but float around the house like a groaning blob.
Week 2: better, much better. I started to get out and about again and the gloomy skies started to clear. All systems were once again a go. Lots of hikes. Lots of lunch dates and outings. Miss cocky pants probably pushed herself too much with all the renewed energy I had.
Week 3: down again. It was expected that my blood counts/immunity would drop around this time, but the weekly CBC checks never revealed a plummet. No transfusions were needed. I guess this means my bone marrow still has steady cell building power. Maybe it was my marrow in overdrive that sent me into a bad place this week. I felt the familiar swelling in my chest. It is like having an elephant inside of my chest – not one sitting on it like I'm about to have a heart attack, rather one becoming painfully large within it. I could tell that the elephant was not happy in this constrained space.
It was tough to take deep breaths, I'd often get dizzy, and a deep cough crept in, especially when I laid down. My heart was also pumping extra hard. I could feel it push the blood through my ears loudly anytime I tried to lay down and rest. A lymph node on my left collarbone waxed and waned in size, especially if I pushed myself too much. This scared me because the feelings were all too familiar. They are the same ones I've felt every time a recurrence of the cancer has crept in ... and the trend has been for this to happen near the one month mark.
I had daily talks with my nurse practitioner (aka "bestie") at Sloan and laid very low. I diligently took my temperature and did a lot of yoga and visualizations of a chest cavity filled only with bright, white light, not damaged DNA replicating all over itself. This fear of recurrence led to a lot of anxiety, leading to chest tightness on top of the fullness, making it hard to distinguish what was going on.
I had a couple of rough mental and emotional days and a lot of nightmares. One night I was a complete wreck and tried to explain to Craig that I just wanted to take a pumpkin carving scraper to my insides. I wanted to go in and just scrape out everything growing inside of me until I was left with a heap of stringy, orange slop. He gave me a warm washcloth, instructing me to wash my face with it and stayed with me until the screaming sobs ceased.
Week 4: I'm entering this final recovery week feeling comme ci, comme ça. Neutral? The big positive is that the chest fullness is gone. The prominent lymph nodes on my collarbone and up and down my neck have at least stabilized. The cough is gone and my breathing is much improved. I'm looking forward to telling my nurse, Brynn, that things have improved. Oddly, it was after a night outside in the frigid wind at a UConn football game tailgate that I felt remarkably better. Maybe a prolonged shot of fresh air, a glittery pumpkin sticker for my cheek, and a cup of hot, hard cider is an ancient remedy of some kind – put that in the clinical trial notes. Maybe what I was feeling was a strange bug, or allergies, or paranoia. One of the struggles of being a cancer patient is to remember that I am also still a human and to not always jump to the conclusion that everything is related to cancer activity. A little post nasal drip shouldn't cause me to start making funeral arrangements.
It's been a game of Chutes and Ladders. I feel like I've climbed a few ladders and made some progress, but unfortunately the chutes have been fast and windy. This Thursday my little plastic playing piece with the pigtails, plaid skirt, and knee socks will be back at the "Start" space to begin the adventure all over again with Bendamustine round 2. At least this time I'm prepared for how high up and how low down the side effect game may take me.