So, I had a bit of a heart to heart with my doctor Thursday at chemo. One question I get a lot is something along the lines of “How many rounds of this chemo will you have to do?” My short answer is “I don’t know” my longer answer is “We’ll have a better idea once we do a CT scan in a month and see how effective the chemo actually is.” I didn’t know if the long answer was true, it was just an educated guess. So I decided I should ask my doc about it.
The conversation evolved into a general discussion about the long-term goals of my treatment. What I think my doctor has been telling me all along and that I’m finally hearing is that they don’t necessarily expect this treatment to put me back into remission. She didn’t actually use the word “palliative” but that’s the impression I got. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t go back into remission, it’s just that the minimum they’re hoping for is to stop progression of the disease, if they can reverse it that’s great, but they’ll be happy to just stop the tumor from continuing to grow.
Wow. That’s a hard pill to swallow. They aren’t actually trying to cure me, just help me to comfortably live as long as possible. When I think of cancer it’s hard not to think of things in very black and white terms. Will I live or die? Will this cure me or not? It’s hard to find myself in the gray area where there is no certainty or even odds to help me set some sort of expectation.
Then I think of all the other people who live in the gray; people with chronic diseases, disabilities or life affecting injuries. They find a new normal. My quality of life doesn’t have to change, maybe just my expectations for my life.
That’s still hard though. And it’s hard not to feel like the doctors are in some way giving up on me. I know they’re treating me in the best way they know how, but I want that to mean we try again for a CURE. I know my body went through a lot the first time we did this, and I know that makes drastic measures this time around even more risky, but I don’t want to give up. Then again maybe I shouldn’t think of this course of treatment as giving up. I don’t know what to think.
I like to be able to end my train of thought in some sort of resolution, but I haven’t come to one yet. This is still an active struggle for me and I don’t know what to think or how to feel about it all.
In the meantime though, I do have a specific prayer request I’d like to mention. Throughout this treatment I have struggled with anemia (low hemoglobin). I’ve tried to be conscious of this and make good diet choices to help my body, but it just keeps dropping. Even during my week off I didn’t see any recovery in those numbers. So if you could all be praying that my body would recover in this area so that they can continue with the chemo I would really appreciate it. Thanks so much everyone, for the prayers and listening to my ramblings, even when they don’t come to a proper conclusion.