Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming

Did you see the movie, Finding Nemo? If you've read some of my previous posts you will remember that I have made reference to Dory. I am convinced at some point in Dory's life, she had chemo, because she sure shows signs of chemo brain. I identify with Dory. I love Dory. She has a great philosophy -- "...Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming."

Today was an eventful day at the cancer clinic. I went there fully expecting to hear, "Congratulations, you have no evidence of disease," (or NED in the world of cancer survivors -- NED is our favorite dancing partner). I was also expecting my amazing doctor and his amazing nurse to happily inform me that I was free for another three months and that chemo today wouldn't be necessary. Yep, that's what I expected, all the while telling myself not to get my hopes up. After all Amazing Doctor is quite the tenacious one and lives up to the clinic's motto, "No Stone Unturned". I knew even if I was going to be dancing with NED, Doc might want to do, well, one more round.

We arrived right on time (I was accompanied by my beautiful firstborn daughter), went straight to the lab, had my blood drawn and then drank the contrast disguising itself as Dasani water. Mmmm, refreshing. Then I waited a bit so the contrast could invade every part of my body. After about 30 minutes my name was called and I proceeded to have a CT scan of my head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis. Guess I don't have to worry about anything in my feet and legs, arms and hands, because that's all they didn't scan. Note to some of you doubters out there, they DID verify that there is a BRAIN in my head. Yes, I know what you're thinking...oh, just hush!

After enjoying the contrast cocktail and having my scan, I proceeded upstairs to the gyn/oncology unit where I waited to see Amazing Doctor. On my way out of the CT area, I peeked in on the doc who was perusing my scans to see if I could read his facial expression. Of course, I could not. What did I expect? I don't know. I just know I'm impatient and I want to know what I want to know NOW!

Anyhoo, I was called in to see Amazing Doc and his Amazing Nurse, and he came in with my scan and blood work results in hand. He wasn't as happy looking as he was the last time I saw him. He sat down beside me and told me that my CT's looked really good, and they showed no evidence of disease...there it was NED...just what I wanted to hear, right? Well in the ovarian cancer world we know that there are little microscopic devils in there that don't show up on a CT, but we like to pretend that NED means it's all gone. We really know better. Doc then went on to explain that even though my CA-125 (tumor marker) has risen just a little bit, albeit it still in the normal range, that he was very concerned that we are still dealing with some of those microscopic devils (my words, not his) and we need to continue to try to wipe them out. He suggested three more cycles of chemo -- really not what I wanted to hear -- but he left the decision up to me. I asked him if by cycles he meant three more sets of three (three more months), and he said yes. He also said the choice was mine. I didn't hesitate. I said "Let's go get 'em, once and for all!" What in the world was I thinking?

Well, I then went into the chemo suite and found my best chemo buddy and sat in a chair across from her. We both like to make the best of a bad situation and laugh and talk a lot. It really passes the time.

I got hooked up to my Decadron (steroid) along with a liter of fluids to prevent dehydration. Then when the prescription was ready, Awesome Chemo Nurse, hooked me up to my Abraxane. All was well with the world, and I was visualizing a Lord of the Rings battle scene going on in my body with those demon cells (Orcs, I imagined) on the run. I finished my Abraxane and then came the Carboplatin. I have had a lot of Carboplatin, and being the student of OC and its chemo drugs, I knew that after several admins of carbo, an allergic reaction is iminent, at least for most. I must confess, have been a little haughty, I suppose, because I've had SO much carbo that I guess I thought that rule wouldn't apply to me. You know Wonder Woman!!! Well, I was wrong. The LOTR battle was going to have to last a while longer, because all the ugly guys hadn't been destroyed.

I was sitting in the recliner, chatting away with my best bud and a new bud I met this morning, when I sneezed a strange sneeze, like out of nowhere and for no reason, and it felt weird. Then, before I knew it, my nasal passages and my throat were closing up. Breathing was getting really difficult, and I started turning red and swelling all over and became very nauseous. I quietly called one of the nurses that was closest, and she as well as all the other nurses came quickly over to me. I don't know how they did it without discussing it, but they each started doing their own thing -- one shutting off my once-friend-now-enemy carbo, and hooking me up to oxygen and coaching me to take deep breaths; one pushing shots into my IV line; one hanging more steroids along with Benadryl and Zantac, and I don't know what all. They called Amazing Doctor and his Amazing Nurse and they dropped what they were doing and came in, too. Within ten or fifteen minutes (it seemed much longer), I was back to normal except for a few tremors and a lot of itching. They told me (as if they had to) that there would be no more Carbo for me. It's scary, because that's one of the big guns, but they said they have quite an arsenal into which we haven't yet tapped and seemed optimistic. Be proud of me, will you? It was probably the scariest situation in my life and I didn't panic. I owe that to some of the wonderful ladies I have met who have gone before me on this journey and told their story -- i.e. that they lived through the anaphylactic-like reactions to Carboplatin and other horrors, and most of all to the many, many prayers that are continually going up on my behalf.

I can't end without praising my Heavenly Father for sending His angels to watch over me and for directing the nurses to act quickly to get things under control. It is my prayer that I will still praise Him if and when things don't work out well. He is worthy of our praise all the time. It's my heart's desire that I can praise Him in the valley just as much as I praise Him on the mountaintop because, you know, it's really all about Him. If you have a few minutes, listen to a couple of songs on YouTube -- Praise You in This Storm (Casting Crowns) and Let the Waters Rise (Mike's Chair). (I'd link them if I knew how.)

My prayer from the beginning of this cancer journey has been, in my life, Lord, be glorified. And, yes, in my illness, Lord, be glorified.

So I guess to wrap it up, I'll show up at the clinic in a couple of weeks and just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. Look out Orcs, here we come! (How about that for two completely different movie references!)

Love you all, and I hope and pray for healing whatever hurts you are going through. Thanks for visiting.

P.S. Would really love your comments, too!