The Plan

I’m not sure if it is so much a plan, but more like a “choose your own adventure”. 

Sitting with my surgeon and my oncologist they both let me know I have options, and here are the main two:

– Have surgery in the Spring/Summer 

Or

– Have surgery in late Fall

Without typing for days and boring you with all of the little details, the way I read those options are:

– Less chemo

Or

-More chemo

As you may know by now, man do I hate chemo – so you can guess which option I am going for.

So what will this entail? Well I will have my lovely mid section sliced open again to access my liver. Totally cool. Oh and I will have both lungs operated on. Double chest tube! I am PRAYING that they say I only have to do two more rounds of chemo and then I will get my pre-operation break for all of March and April. However it is more likely that they will push me to do chemo right up until 6 weeks before my surgery. 

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Dilemma

Yesterday was my first scan after my horrible one in September. Since then (as I hope you have read), I have changed many different things in regards to my treatment and lifestyle. Yesterday was the day to see if all that has paid off.

40 minutes before my appointment with my surgeon my mother and I were relaxing in the hospital Second Cup when I felt a pat on the head. Dr. Jay in his scrubs and what seemed to be fresh out of surgery. So now in rough quotes is what we discussed:

“Oh hello! I can just quickly update you now but then I would like to see you next week once the radiologist gives me his report on your scans. They were good, really good actually. From what I can tell they all have shrunk and some have disappeared even. I think there are 4 left on your lung and 2 on your liver? All of them seem to be superficial as well. I want to wait for the report and speak to Dr.Ko, but we might be able to get rid of them for you.”

This moment was mixed – happiness obviously that everything is working, but confusion and another feeling I have yet to name. 

“Surgery? So you can remove them laparoscopicly?”

“Ha ha no. I have hacked at your liver so many times I would need a full visual.”

“So you want to cut. Cut me down my front. Again. For the third time….. I don’t know about this. I was so weak and my body will have to recover and that could make everything worse.”

“I know it is a lot to think about. I didn’t think we would be here again either to tell you the truth. Hell when I first met you I saw your scan I can honestly say I never thought you would be in my office again. But you suprised me then and again you are suprising me today. Let’s be honest. You have stage 4 cancer. I can cut it out and the chance of reoccurance is still high. What this could do though is buy you some time off of chemo, so you can have a some what regular life.”

“If you want me to consider this then next week you better have an amazing game plan. Something like you are going to cut this shit out and then pay for me to go to Jamaica.”

He laughed. “I’ll come up to visit you during chemo next week and we will chat.”

So I am sure most of you are thinking – “YAY! Cut that shit out!” And now I will explain to you in short form (as my mind is running a mile a minute) the dilemma in my head.

Scenario 1: We operate. – I would not only have to heal my front AGAIN I would also have incisions from my lung which would mean a chest tube AGAIN. So how am I sleeping? Not on my stomach, my sides or my back. Even after all that with the shitty recovery, and the drugs I hate being on, and then months of pain, and I have a puppy who will jump and not understand, and the chance of infection, and hospital complications… I will be so weak that it could grow again. So the surgery was for nothing and I’m back on chemo.

Scenario 2: We stay on course. – If some have already disappeared and others have shrunk then let’s just keep me on the low dose of chemo and keep my healthy lifestyle up. It’s obviously working for me and I feel great. But then we know I still have the cancer in me because we can see it. And there may come a point where they stop shrinking, and the amount of chemo in my system will make having a surgery too risky. So now they could grow and get worse.

Scenario 3: We wait for one more scan. – Have a couple more doses of chemo and check back in to see what the boys are doing. Maybe they are all gone now? Or maybe something fucked up happened and they grew weird and now surgery is back off the table and I’m fucked all over again. 

Scenario 4: I somehow convince Dr. Jay who is a world class surgeon, who people fly in to have him use his God like hands to operate – that he is wrong. He can operate laparoscopicly and he just has to figure it out. Go back to the skills lab like I see in Greys Anatomy and make a replica of my liver and figure it the fuck out. This is a pipe dream I know, but you bet your ass I will say this to him on Wednesday.

So as you can see this is just a small picture as to the confusion in my head, and now I have to chose one that is right for me. They can all lead to health and they can all lead to shit. This is my dilemma. 

Speeding Ticket

I joke about my cancer all the time. If I am speaking with one of my friends and I want them to do something, I have been known to say, “But it is my dying wish.” I obviously do not actually mean it. It is just my sick sense of humour. One of the things I regularly joke about is if a stranger ever told me off, I would make them feel like shit. This scenerio could happen in a parking lot, or maybe I accidentaly cut someone off in my car – and said stranger decided to let me have it. I always joke about how I would pull of my hat, lift up my shirt and show them my battle wounds to let them know right then and there that they are an asshole for yelling at a dying girl. The same can be said about a run in with law enforcement. Now I never would go to lift my shirt up – I’m not that crazy – but I did always say I would some how tell them I have cancer to get out of a ticket. Well today that moment finally came. Driving down a hill my car accelerated because of GRAVITY and there was a speed trap at the bottom. I was flagged over. Well, here it was, my moment to shine – except something else happened. I realized that all jokng aside, I do not like to talk about myself with strangers. I felt awkward and weird to just work into a conversation that I had cancer. Did I cry? Yes of course. He even asked me if I was ok and why I was so upset, that was my moment! Yet still, I said, “Oh I won’t bore you with my life story. I’m sure you get that a lot.” I just took the ticket. After composing myself and driving away I began to wonder, why didn’t I just try and use my “get out of jail free” card? I am sure he would have felt sorry for me and let me be on my way. But that is exactly it. I do not want him to feel sorry for me. I do not want anyone to feel sorry for me. I can kid around with my friends but at the end of it all, I am not someone who wants others to sit around and feel bad for my life. My shit is my shit, and I have to live with that. That being said, if someone out there would like to pay for my ticket I wouldn’t say no…

Operable

The one question I forgot to ask my doctor last week, “How do I go from inoperable in April to operable in June?”. I mean, it is exciting to say the least, but still that question looms in my mind. I just do not understand what is so different? They did say that my chemo was working and the tumours were shrinking, but I cannot imagine it was by a large significant amount. I have only had 4 treatments. I am going to ask him that question on the 16th, however I have a feeling I know his answer because the surgery I am having is very risky. On that note, let’s break it down:

Surgery 1
The doctor will first go in and remove 9 tumours on the 20% of my liver he would like to keep (You only need 20% of your liver in order for it to function. Also, a healthy liver will regenerate itself.). He will then block the portal vein that is suppling blood to the other 80%. This will cause that side of my liver to shrink. During the same surgery he will also remove the 4 tumours from my colon. He has also half promised he can do this without leaving me with a colostomy bag *fingers crossed*. It would not be the worst thing, but if I can avoid it that would be nice.

Surgery 2
The doctor will go in an remove the 80% of my liver that he has shrunk. Although this procedure seems smaller, it is actually the most complicated and the most risky.

Excitement and nervousness are the two emotions that I drift back and forth with. By the time I have my first surgery on the 21st of July, it will be almost 6 weeks since my last chemotherapy treatment. The paranoid part of me is worried that my tumours will have grown or multiplied during this time. There is no set plan yet for what happens in between the two surgeries. I will either jump from one to the next, or have a blast of chemo in between. Stay tuned for updates.

Exhausted

Sometimes you just have to let it all out. I have been surprised so far about how calm I have been about this whole “cancer shmancer”. Bottling it all in is beginning to take it’s tole. I feel like I do not have any other choice however. I really only have a meltdown when I am alone at night, and it is quiet, and my mind won’t shut up. Breaking down like that in front of people has no benefit. Every single person I know feels bad for me, and that energy… I can feel it. If I show that I am upset, I can see it just makes them even more upset. That weight however… of hundreds of people’s sadness on my shoulders… it is so exhausting. I can’t cry because whoever I am with starts to cry 10 times harder it seems. I hate that. I hate the feeling that I am causing anyone pain.

The one common descriptive word that I consistently hear is “helpless”. Everyone feels helpless and wants to try and fix that. The truth of the matter is no one really can. Even I feel helpless towards myself. The path in life I was running towards shattered in front of me and now I am stepping on shards of glass. Sounds pretty depressing. Sorry for that, but it’s the truth.

I just wrote and entire uplifting paragraph and then erased it all. Why? Because sometimes everyone needs to sit in shit. You want to know the cold hard truth of what is happening inside my head. This is it today. It’s the fucking worst and it’s only 8am.

Like Christmas Morning

Throughout the years I have always heard the worst things about chemotherapy. So finding out I was going to be on one of the strongest doses was a tad overwhelming. I mean yes, it was going to attack and hopefully kill the bad cells, but at the same time kill the good ones too. I was put on the schedule of coming biweekly, with one of my drugs being hooked up in a bottle that I would bring home and that would flow into me for another 46 hours.

Treatment One

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During and after leaving I was thinking “What was all the hype about?” Yes I am a little tired but honestly if this is the worst of it, this shit is a breeze.

Treatment Two

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This was the start of my hair loss. Even with that I only had two bad days where I felt drained. I did have one morning feeling nauseous, but as soon as I put something in my stomach it seemed to go away.

Treatment Three

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This day so far was definitely the worst. I was sweating like a fool during and after leaving the hospital. I was also so exhausted I felt like I walked home from Toronto. That night upstairs on the couch all I wanted was cold pineapple. Too exhausted to even get up to pee (honestly in my head I would go back and forth with how long I could hold it.), I used my cell phone to call my house phone to ask someone to bring it up. My parents have been amazing, and my mom came upstairs laughing with the pineapple.

“Your Dad and I were laughing how you are really milking this cancer thing.”

Now before you get all judgy wudgy, I have been the WORST with the jokes. I constantly joke about my cancer. It helps to laugh about it instead of dwell. This night however I was extra vulnerable and they had no idea. I started crying.

“I’m not faking it though. I actually feel so sick.” I said with tears falling faster than Niagara Falls.

“Oh my goodness I am so sorry we were just joking! You know, how you do all the time!?”

“I control the jokes!!”

That was the last time they started a conversation with jokes. My poor parents lol. From that day I had another 2 days feeling like this, but still that was about it.

Treatment Four

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This was just yesterday. There was a lot of information thrown at me that day (which I will get to another time, in another post), but overall it was an easy chemo day. Even today I woke up feeling pretty good. That is how my mornings go now. I sit up and can pretty much instantly assess whether it will be a good or bad day. I did however find out before this treatment that my white blood counts are right at the minimum level. So as a lot of people on chemo have experienced, I am being placed on a self injecting drug for 8 days to help with my counts.

Overall my chemo days have become like Christmas morning to me. I look forward to every session and count the days leading up to it. Is it making me weaker, no question. However it is also attacking the little fucks that have put me in this state. For that, I love chemo :).