The last few weeks my blogs have had some time in between them. That is because the "middle ground" I was on seemed without change for the time being. The treatments were winding down, surgery was coming near, and I was feeling the same...tired, same side effects, and anxious for chemo to be over.
And now...here I am! TODAY WAS MY LAST CHEMO! (Cue the falling balloons and the confetti.) This announcement is, of course, tempered by the fact that I have to continue going to Chemo Castle every three weeks for Herceptin, which is still a cancer drug that has to be fed to me through the IV tube. However, I am done with the Taxol and maybe now my body can slowly begin to recover from some of its side effects. I am most anxious to get rid of these "pins and needles" in my hands and feet and for my hair to begin to grow.
I woke up this morning so wanting and praying that my counts would be good. I was all too aware that the longer I was on this drug, the more I could expect bad counts to happen. And just two weeks ago I needed the shot to boost the white blood cells. So it was with some trepidation that I walked into the chemo ballroom also hoping the port could be accessed again. This time my chemo nurse was the older one with the loud laugh and wicked sense of humor. She came up to me and said, "Sharon, I'm your nurse today." As she began to get the tools together to access the port, I reminded her how I have had some issues getting the blood return lately. Her answer was (and know she said this half joking), "Today we have no time for that, so it is just going to work." Oddly, that was comforting. And yes, the room was quite full today. She put the needle through my port, hooked me up, and drew that blood like there was no doubt it would be there. I could have kissed her--cause there it was so rich and red in the syringe. My blood was sent off to be tested and I sat and waited.
My oncologist has a very revealing face. I knew the minute she entered that there were some concerns. As she asked me questions, I could tell she was weighing something in her mind. Finally, she told me. My white blood cells were once again lower than she wanted and she usually doesn't give chemo at that point. BUT (and thank you, God, for that BUT), it was my last chemo and she knew how I was looking forward to it. AND I responded well to the shot last time to boost the counts. AND in general, I tolerated most things very well....even the tiredness and need to be watchful during the times my count was down. So, she granted the permission for the chemo! Along with this permission she reminded me that I do need to go in on Thursday for the shot to boost the count and I also need to have another MugaScan (for any potential heart damage...yes, another side effect) before surgery can happen. But hey, those are little things now (comparatively...I can remember when they were BIG things).
So this week will be very busy. And it is coming off of a very busy time for me personally. My preschool just celebrated its 35th Anniversary during last Sunday's worship (we are directly connected with the church). It was the most wonderful day and I will carry the memory of this day always. There were so many families and congregation members that came to celebrate. The service itself had some "testimonies" from past, present and future family members that were so inspiring and uplifting. There were many other moments that filled my heart and made all we do at the school seem so appreciated and fulfilling. But it had been enormous work getting it all together and the last couple weeks were jammed with all the details needed to make it all happen. I was exhausted! And now I know it was not only all the work, but low counts. Sometimes it's easy to forget that there are issues I need to remember as I live my life outside chemo.
Before I left today, some of my chemo friends came over to give a hug and congratulate me on finally finishing. And when my husband and I left, they all wished me well with smiles and hope in their own eyes.
Just before I left, someone came in that I hadn't seen before. He was greeted by another patient who said, "I haven't seen you in a while. Good to see you!" His answer was "Better to be seen than not seen at all." And he is so right...right in that it is better to be here and alive than not; and better that chemo patients like us are seen for WHO we are and not WHAT we are.
Someone wrote me a little while ago that my blogs have helped her to see that there is more to an individual going through chemo than most people know. That is exactly why I am writing this...both for the individuals who are going through this and can empathize with my experience; and for those who have no idea what goes on behind the words "I am going through chemo right now."
Next steps: shot, MugaScan, appointment with Surgeon and Plastic Surgeon and then the surgery itself! Things are going to be happening fast now. And I keep in mind that all these things make it easy to say the words, "Better to be seen than not seen." Have a good day/night!