Friday, December 2, 2011

Quick Update from Kim

Just a quick update. Thanksgiving week I had my usual scans and lab work done @ MDA. For some reason I kinda had a bad feeling about them prior to having them. The results were as follows ... I've got a small pleural effusion on the left side (fluid around the left lung.) This has been much worse in the past, but more recently it had completely subsided. So not the greatest news. I also have a new area bone metastasis on my right iliac crest. Other previously noted metastatic bone lesions appear stable. Tumor markers are higher than previously, but still within normal limits. A small lesion on my liver appears to be growing larger, up to 1.5cm in diameter. Concerning, and interesting that my right side is being affected now, whereas before all my troubling areas seemed to be on the left. I used to joke that if I could just get a new whole left side, I would be fine!

Anyway, here's what my options are according to Dr. Green: I could stay on my current treatment (Xeloda, by mouth, 3 in am, 4 in pm, one week on, one week off) and be re-scanned in 6 weeks to see if there's been progression of the above findings. OR, I could move on to the next treatment option and "catch it early." Normally I would absolutely be for the more aggressive treatment option. I'm a fighter, and I believe in being aggressive when fighting cancer. However, this time I chose to go with the "wait and see" option. We are really only talking about 6 weeks here. Let me have my holidays!

The reason I chose to wait is that what Dr. Green told me about the "next step" disturbs me, and for reasons I never thought would. She's recommending Abraxane, a Taxol-like chemotherapy that is given IV. I would have to travel to MD Anderson for the infusion once a week; three weeks on, one week off. She said that it's generally well-tolerated (not much in the way of nausea or fatigue,) but I would lose my hair. In the past, I admit, that I've looked down on women who say "The worst part of having cancer was losing my hair." I disagree! That's not the worst part. I always said "Bring it on" to chemo. The last time I lost my hair from chemo, it was traumatic, yes, but I knew it was temporary. My hair would grow back after the treatments ended. But this time it's very different.

When I asked how long I would be on Abraxane, she said "Until it stops working." Being the quick-minded intelligent gal I am (ha,) it didn't take me long to say "So, I'll be bald indefinitely??" To me, this seems like the beginning of the "end" for me. Nothing screams "I have cancer!" more than a woman with a big bald head! And forever? And ever? And when it stops working, will I actually go on to a less toxic drug and grow my hair back? Probably not. I am facing the very real possibility of being hairless until I die! Which is when? Who knows!

A friend of mine, when I met her shortly after moving to Texas in 2005, was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and had lost her hair. I never knew her with hair. And I never saw her with hair for the remaining 5 years of her life. Surely that wasn't the worst part of a 40-something year old (wonderful) woman losing her life to breast cancer. But I can't help but think of Eveline now that I'm faced with this. Will I be like her?

Yes, I can wait 6 weeks and enjoy the holidays with family before taking the next step in my cancer journey. And maybe the results in January will be good, and I won't have to just yet! So much to think about ... will try to put it out of my mind until after Christmas.

Thanks for listening, and for your prayers.