Apologies about that mysterious reference to “developments in development” – I was waiting to speak to my doctor, and now that I know what is going on and have shared it with family, I can finally blog about it. Basically, the nodules in my lungs have turned out to be metastasized breast cancer.
This means that somehow, in spite of the lymph nodes shrinking and stabilizing, the spots in my lungs managed to multiply and grow larger. Those very same spots I saw on the CT scan in the solar system of my lungs – those tiny little flecks indistinguishable from all the other tiny little “normal” flecks – are in fact gigantically evil.
We were devastated and enraged when we heard the news, especially after having felt so buoyed by the stabilization and shrinkage of my lymph nodes. I did a lot of crying, and a lot of raging this past weekend; a lot of fantasizing about smashing things (windows, pieces of furniture, cancer cells…) and a lot of asking the universe if it couldn’t have just cut me a little slack for once? Really, how much hope-bashing is allowed? How many bounce-backs do I have to make?
But, after having to gone to some very dark and scary places, I was surprised to find that I could come back from them again. I resurfaced. Once again, the will to live my life and beat this thing has prevailed over the fear that it will beat me and take my life. Or prevailed for now; it’s a bumpy ride, I’m bound to fall off the hope wagon from time to time.
What helped enormously was having a long talk with my oncologist yesterday. Apparently it is unusual that some areas would respond to treatment while others do not (of course I have to be special.) However, it is not at all unusual that the cancer would affect multiple organs. It is also not unusual for people live years and years and years just firing at the moving target of metastasis. Years and years and years. So, looks like I should continue to look both ways when I cross the street and keep wearing my bike helmet.
My oncologist’s recommendation is that we change course of treatment immediately to something that might be more effective in hitting ALL areas of activity, because she is especially concerned that I don’t become too symptomatic in the lungs, since it’s not fun to be gasping for breath and this cough is already super-annoying.
So my new treatment is a combination of drugs called gemcitabine and cisplatin, administered through IV in the chemo clinic, starting tomorrow. Off the pills and back into the veins! Actually, I’m kind of ready to abandon my current side effects and try out some new ones. I’ve been told to expect nausea and tingling hands, but with any luck my bad dream about losing my hair won’t come true — my oncologist says there could be “some mild hair thinning or loss.” Sounds a bit patchy to me, but we’ll see.
In the mean time, onward. On Friday my friend Chris wrote me an e-mail and in it he said “The universe loves you.” I really need to believe he’s right. I just wish it wasn’t such tough love.