11.26.2014

A Girl Who Happens to Have Cancer

The chemo drug that I have been on since day one (5-FU) comes in pill form. It's called Xeloda, and it's a doozy - not only in power, but in size. And when I say size, if it's bigger than an Advil and doesn't come in chewable form, it's considered large by my standards.

Before you throw your hands up in outrage and want to throw rotten fruit at me for getting my chemo infused rather than taking a pill, let me explain a few things.

I HATE taking pills. I'm sitting here with a stuffed up nose, and would rather type with one watery eye half closed, than get up and go take a giant DayQuil gel cap. But that's really not an excuse. Of course I would rather take handfuls of DayQuil over an infusion and a pump. There's no pill so large that a nice glass of chocolate milk can't get down without gagging (mostly). But the doctors of my past haven't exactly been pill pushers. I mean, what doctor isn't a pill pusher? They just haven't pushed this pill for various reasons.

Oncologist #1: He didn't want me to take the pill because he couldn't "control" my taking of it. That means he had no way of knowing for sure if I was really taking my daily dose, and preferred I come in for my infusions. Fine. I wanted to do it by the book and as recommended by my doctor in the early days. I understood that with an infusion, he was guaranteed that I was getting the chemo I needed, when I needed it. Not the case with some pill I take at home. At the time I thought I had signed up for 12, and only 12 rounds of full dose chemo. Taking it in pill form was the least of my concerns.

Oncologist #2: He has mentioned the pill, but knows my lame aversion to taking horse pills. He also has hesitations over the side effects. Nothing I don't currently deal with now, but I think that whole bit about my hands and feel rotting off just gets taken up a notch with the pill. And considering I have to tend to them daily with tiny clippers, Neosporin and bandaids, I guess I could understand his reasoning. He also brought up the out-of-pocket expense of a specialty drug, but I think I can easily justify that if it means life without the pump. Overall, it's safe to say he's not a fan for his own reasons, and has avoided the option.

Oncologist #2.5: She was all about the pill. She actually listened when I said I was sick of going about my normal, daily life with a fanny pack. I can walk out after 45 minutes (Avastin must still be infused) and continue on with my day as if nothing ever happened. But that damn pump. It's just an annoying, constant reminder that my life sucks for 2 days every other week. Sure, my hands and feet might rot off, but that's going to be far less noticeable than a tube coming out of my chest and a fanny pack.

Oncologist #3: He's all about the pill, so the pill it will be. Twice a day, every day, for 2 weeks straight. 2 weeks on. 1 week off. And no pump. Cheers.

I have one more round with the infusion pump scheduled after Thanksgiving with my current oncologist, then I'm breaking up and moving on.

I remind myself that most of the American population probably takes more mediation than this on a daily basis, and they can manage. I'm just looking forward to the freedom it will bring, a break from that damn pump, a doctor that doesn't give me grief for taking it, and spending every week walking around like a completely normal person. I almost feel like I can go back to being a girl...who just happens to have cancer.


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