Today I had my first appointment with Dr. P, my oncologist, since my hospitalization. The intent was to check my labs and then talk about the next steps. He confirmed to me what he had said in the hospital – my reaction to Xloda was not expected, was beyond anything he had ever seen, and was surprising. Xloda is a drug used by many people and although they have side effects, nothing approaches what I experienced. Again, lucky me as I continue to be an outlier. He then said that there is no evidence that doing maintenance chemo does anything to help fight the cancer, or that it is any better than simply monitoring the cancer and if it starts to grow, going back to infusion chemo. He gave me an option to do the Xloda but at a greatly decreased dosage, or to take a break and be closely monitored. When I asked him what he would recommend, he recommended the monitoring. I decided to take that advice.
This is hard advice for me to take because it is against my normal modus operandi. I want to do something, and something aggressive, to fight this battle. Monitoring it at first glance seems to me to be sitting back and waiting to see if the cancer grows. This does not come easily to me. It was not an easy decision. However, I have decided I am not simply sitting back. I am getting healthy, getting my immune system going, and it is going to continue to attack the cancer. I will see the homeopathic doctor about ways to help bolster my immune system. I will visualize my healthy cells attacking the cancer. I will continue to work on getting physically stronger as well – continuing to do yoga, so that my body is ready for the fight. In other words, I will not be sitting back – this will just be a different approach to fighting this beast. It will definitely be more of a challenge to me, but I am up for a challenge.
There is no question I cannot go through what I went through with the maintenance chemo. It is hard to justify when the evidence does not support it being any better than monitoring closely. While I know this intellectually, emotions are a different manner. As someone who runs to any challenge with action, my new action will be internal and external without the use of chemo poison. That is a good thing because it allows my immune system to recover and become strong. That is the best defense against cancer. In fact, I expect some day that our own immune systems will be bolstered in a way that will fight cancer. I know this is already happening in blood cancers. It is only a matter of time with others.
In the meantime, I am going to live my life fully and enjoy it. I will book my trip to South Beach at the beginning of March, and in mid March Alan and I are going to a spa with hiking after our partner meeting in Scottsdale. I will plan a trip overseas, assuming all is well. I already called Jackie and said I am ready to book Florida. I am ready for the warmth and the beach. Today I will research places in Arizona for Alan and I and we will book that trip as well.
On March 4, I have my next scan and I see Dr. P the next week. It will be positive. I have a very strong will and feel very strong emotionally. Frankly, if I just used my will, the cancer would be whimpering and running away. My entire being will concentrate on beating the cancer back, whether I am on chemo or not. Dr. P also mentioned there are other drugs becoming available. I told him I am up for them, and that I plan on being a long term survivor. He responded that I had good attributes for that. I know that and I will make them even stronger than in the past.
On to the sun, warm temperatures, good food and wine and good friends.