Next Phase

Cycle 3, day 16. Today, we met with the radiation oncologist to better understand what the next phase of treatment will hold. Bottom line: it won’t be a walk in the park, but it won’t be worse than what I’ve already been through.

I learned a bit more about the pathology of my cancer, how it was found in the lymph system (in addition to the lymph nodes), the likelihood of it being in other lymph nodes, and the implications for the type of radiation I will receive. Looks like I’ll get something a bit more aggressive than we originally thought, but that will do more to stave off a return of the cancer. Compared to the side effects I’ve experienced with chemo, it won’t be awful, but it also won’t be nothing — fatigue, irritation, lymphedema, damage to my heart and lungs, and oh yeah, my personal favorite, an increased risk for cancer. One of my chemo drugs also increases risk for cancer, something I find terrifically ironic.

So my fantasy that the worst is over may be just that, a fantasy. But on the plus side, I won’t have to worry as much about my immunity and illness, so I’ll get to be in the world a good bit more, and maybe even go back to the physical therapy/training program for cancer patients I had to leave during chemo, assuming I’m not exhausted. And, radiation will last a mere six weeks vs. the 12 of chemotherapy. Granted, it’s every weekday for those six weeks, but each treatment is only a half hour, and I can probably take myself to and from, so my husband won’t be entirely wedded to the radiation schedule.

My doctor was ready to start radiation right after my last round of chemo and just before Christmas, and I was on board, figuring, “what the heck, let’s do this,” but my much saner husband asked if it could be delayed until after the first of January. And the doctor was fine with that, which also gives my wound that won’t heal during chemo a chance to heal. So I get about a month of feeling good (or at least better) after the worst of the chemo side effects subside, and I get to enjoy Christmas with my family without the specter of treatment hanging over us.

It is what it is, and I’m as ready to tackle this next phase as I can be, I think. While I’m not quite at “bring it” today, I suspect I’ll be there by January.

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