Day 6-1 Chemo infusion #6 (two weeks later)
THIS was a good day, even with the chemo! Once a month, with every second infusion, I also see my doctor. This time he gave me good news! He got the results of my latest CAT scan (which are taken every three months), and they show that Little Fucker (the cancer tumor) has shrunken! I sort of knew that already because I could feel a difference in the ache under my right ribs, but he gave me some very encouraging numbers. I forget all the measurements he rattled off except the most dramatic of them: one dimension was ONE THIRD of itself from three months ago, at the beginning of my treatment!
This gave me a reasonable belief that I will be on the “more” side of the original guess of more or less a year to live. When I was first given my diagnosis, I accepted it rather easily in part because I already knew that pancreatic cancer doesn’t play; it can be treated but never beaten into full remission. At discovery mine was already at Stage IV, so I’m pretty sure it will be what kills me, but now I have hope of more time. Maybe I can achieve a few of my projects, and maybe I can squeeze in another summer of sailing on Chesapeake Bay. Maybe I won’t put my boat up for sale just yet . . .
Also, the doctor reduced my dosage of chemo! The difference is very helpful: instead of six days of being a Zombie, this lower dosage gave me only about four days of being a Zombie-Lite. It’s still days of endless hangover, but not as bad and not as long. BooYAAA!
A few quick notes about that:
- My appetite is holding steady, but my taste is changing. I still like my favorite foods, but some items taste just a little bit different. I’m sure it has been a gradual change, so only now has it progressed enough to become noticeable. Nothing tastes downright bad except for the sandwiches they give me during the chemo infusion (seriously), and that may be only because I’m eating them as the full strength of fresh chemo poisons are being pumped into my body.
- My left leg quadricep is again tightening on its own (no, not in a way that could be included in Monty Python’s Ministry of Funny Walks), but it is happening to a lesser degree. Instead, when lying in bed, a couple of times I had the sensation that both of my legs were floating. That may have just been because I was in that wonderful state of mind balanced between being awake and being asleep.
- My fingers felt funny again, and by funny I mean odd. It’s subtle and hard to describe, but I figured I’d mention it because it is probably one way the chemo is creating a little neuropathy.
I’ve mentioned in earlier post that for decades I’ve been dealing with depression. (Actually, I think it showed up in my teen or maybe even pre-teen years.) To reiterate for those who don’t understand, depression is NOT merely just feeling wordlessly sad: it is having your brain functions depressed, pushed down and held down. It’s not feeling sad: it is feeling nothing except the loss of feeling. Usually emotions leave first (so you start ghosting through your life), and close behind thinking ability degrades (at my worst, I could barely form or understand simple sentences. I, who used to do calculus, would mess up basic arithmetic.) You can recover, but statistically the more episodes you have and the deeper you sink, the likelihood of you falling again and sinking deeper increases. Depression is cancer of the mind – not the brain, but the mind, the residency of your awareness of life. You become a spectator, a ghost. It’s living in a horror movie. It fucking sucks. I’ve had it under control for many years, but I know it never, ever goes completely away. Many, many times I have to ask myself if I’m responding appropriately to the common frustrations of life or if my demon is whispering in my ear.
I bring this up now because I do wonder how much my Depression Demon plays hand-in-hand with my “Little Fucker” Cancer Tumor. When I was first diagnosed with cancer and rather easily accepted my death sentence, I must admit that I also felt a small measure of relief. Yes, relief. The struggle was coming to an end.
Now, though, with the evidence of the chemo beating down on “Little Fucker”, I believe I will have more time. In anyone’s life there is seldom enough time (cue Jim Croce, “There never seems to be enough time, to do the things you want to do, once you find them.”), but now I have solid reasons to believe I have a little more life than I thought I did at diagnosis. And that gives my Depression Demon a good kick in the nuts. BooYAAA!