11.19.2016

80 (+10) = 90

I'm about 10 rounds late in posting this, but over the summer I passed the 80 round milestone with chemo. And as you may know, that's not 80 rounds of some light and fluffy oral chemo that makes me want to go to bed at 8:30 instead of 9 every night.

That's 80 (technically 90 at the writing of the post) rounds of the nasty, toxic, vomit-inducing, anxiety-triggering, nausea-producing, hangover-making, fatigue-bringing, hair-losing, crap that makes a girl feel like shit and lay in bed with hot flashes for 3 days.

And as kindness and community sometimes go, the wagons got circled to celebrate. People came in to town, BBQs were had, gluten-free cake was bought, and I was alive to see it all!

And now I'm sitting in front of the fire enjoying the morning after my 90th round. And I'm only able to sit here and type because number 90 mark a change in directions - a change I've been wanting for the last 3 months, as some mild growth in one of my tumors had me mildly uncomfortable.

No one knows my many, many tumors as intimately as me. After all, I've been watching them grow up for the least (almost) 5 years! And despite the oncology world considering me stable, the very minimal growth (2mm every 3 months) was an indicator to me that the chemo I had been on for the last 3.5 years was no longer working on at least one of those suckers.

I went in yesterday prepared to put up a greater fight over switching up chemo than I did at my last appointment. I was prepared to go home and create graphs of tumor growth to prove to my oncologist that FOLFIRI had really run it's course and it was time to move on.

But all that pumping myself up wasn't necessary. As expected, one pesky little tumor added on another 2-3mm of weight, and he sat back and easily agreed that it was time to move on.

I'd say I had a remarkably long run on one drug that at one point shrunk my "innumberable" tumors, then just kept them from growing, and has slowly shown that it's no longer in the mood to keep one of those bastards contained. I'm still stable, and the "progression" I have is still debatable. But it was debatable enough to finally break-up with FOLFIRI.

My new drug of choice is a typical third line of defense in colon cancer, and it's called Erbitux. Having a wide network of colorectal cancer survivors in my community, I was able to get the inside scoop on what to expect with my new friend. Across the board I couldn't believe what I was hearing. There would be no nausea, no fatigue, no staying in bed all weekend, no thinning hair, no feeling like crap. I would feel totally normal. And I could have HAIR again! Not that the thinning hair and short hair was getting to me. Having lost it at least 6 times over the last 3 years, I was getting rather use to the cycle. But the idea of being able to dust off hair dryer, buy some deep conditioner, and shop for ponytail holders again is rather exciting for this long-blond-hair-kinda-girl.

The one side-effect, and it can be a big one for a vain person such as myself, is an acne-like rash. As much as one can cross their fingers and hope they're one of the lucky ones that doesn't get it, you actually want it. They say the worse the race, the better the drug is working. So cheers to me looking like a teenager who never washes their face!

I was set up with a sampling of lotions, washes, topical creams, and what I think is an acne antibiotic called Minocycline. The good news is the rash is only temporary, and so predicable that I was given a timeline of what to expect: rash, rash drying up, rash getting crusty, rash itching, skin getting crazy dry, etc. As miserable as it's all going to be, I think it's a fair trade for the chance to feel normal all the time, and stop to chronic cycle of feeling sick and tired every other weekend.

To wrap this up, I'm going to leave you with photos of my latest CT scan from Wednesday. When I say I have so many tumors in my lungs it's like looking at sprinkles on a cupcake, I wasn't lying. But short of seeing images like these, I'd have no clue. I don't feel them, they don't bother me, and my breathing isn't remotely effected. It always amazes me that this is what's going on inside of my body.

All the fluffy white stuff is cancer. The lines are veins.

They remind me of spring blossoms on a tree. Only they aren't. They are crappy little cancer that will kill you!




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