Thursday, December 13, 2007

Back on Chemo

Since my last Blog entry, I’ve been to see my oncologist twice. The first time, she was perplexed and didn’t know what to do, so she just said to wait a few days and see what happens with the pain. Today, she was even more perplexed because the pain had gotten much worse. I can’t even turn my body around to reverse the car into our parking space without feeling a shooting pain in my right chest. I couldn’t go for a run tonight because the up and down motion made my chest hurt. I can’t pick up the kids or reach for the top shelf without pain.

My doctor said that in twenty years of treating cancer patients, she’s never seen a case where cancer has come back so quickly and tumors have grown so fast. I told her I must be really special. I got a laugh out of her anyway.

She said she could run some tests – blood test, CT scan, X-ray, MRI, anything but PET/CT, since I just had one last month and it’s too dangerous to have another so soon. The problem is that none of these other tests picked up my cancer before, so she didn’t think they’d show anything. She suggested a “low-dose spiral CT scan”, which has a much lower dose of radiation than a PET/CT. But then she called the radiologist and learned that the radiation level is about the equivalent of thirty chest X-rays. Doesn’t sound low-dose to me! I don’t want to be outshining the Christmas trees this season with all the radiation in my body.

She said my symptoms were a much better indication of what’s happening inside me than any of these tests, so based on my case history, she decided I should go back on chemo. So I had Navelbine again, along with the Herceptin I was scheduled to get. She sent me down to a heart doctor for an echocardiogram first, to see if my heart could take it. The echo was normal. Yay, my heart’s still good.

I go back to the doctor in two days to report on whether the pain has disappeared. If so, then the chemo’s working. If not, the chemo’s not working or it’s not even tumors we’re dealing with. So then we do the low-dose spiral CT scan, which won’t be conclusive because it could show up nothing even though I have tumors growing. And then what?

All this two days before I’m supposed to get on an 18-hour flight. I certainly don’t want to die in an airplane, thousands of feet in the air. If I have a medical emergency during the flight, do they divert the flight to get me to a doctor or are they not allowed to change their flight path even to save a passenger’s life? Maybe I should look into the airline’s policy on this before getting on the flight.

Maybe I should pretend this is happening to my twin in a parallel universe and I should just live in my universe and worry about real things like getting Christmas presents ready and packing for our trip to the U.S.

Couldn’t cancer take some time off this holiday season?

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