I'm cleaning. It's the thing I always turn to when I try to restore order in my world. So I'm sorting, cleansing, throwing. On my knees, then reaching far above my head. Scrubbing, harder and harder. If I use all my might? All my tough girl fight? Will I scrub all this cancer away? I barely sit down. I work until my back aches, and my arm swells, and my breathing is jagged and sharp. Till I have no more. Tears creep down my cheeks, as Crosby leans in to lick them away. Somehow I'll clean it all away.
Dr. Panwalkar was all business when he walked in the door of exam room 7 on Tuesday. He smiled and shook my hand firmly, then sat down right away to begin looking at scans. He still seemed to be in the midst of deciding what to do.
As he talked his way through the scan, pointing out where in my body "progression," had occurred, he kept saying, "I'm not sure I agree." I just kept sitting, waiting for the verdict.
He finally turned the screen, and it wasn't the splashes of yellow, glowing from the screen that unsettled me. It was the words, oh those awful words. The report from the radiologist, was so hard to stomach, all I could do was avert my eyes, I simply didn't want to see, didn't need to know. Yellow splashes, in my lungs, down through my abdominal cavity kept jumping out at me.
But Dr. Panwalkar is still shaking his head, not in agreement with the words. Based on what he sees in the scans? Those aren't the words he would choose. Its in these "hard" moments I need his sturdiness and his knowing, the most. Somehow he always "sees" me in these moments.
So he reveals his plan... one I couldn't have seen coming... as sometimes happens. He changes his mind in the moment- flashes of brilliance or thoughts of another way that suddenly occur to him. His demeanor changes and he simply says, "How would you feel about trying TDM1 again?"
I start to see where he is going with this. I've had TDM1 before and it cleared out my liver mets, and kept me stable for almost a year. Its been 4 years since I've had it.
"I know nausea was a problem, but we'll give you something to help with that," he says.
"We'll scan again in 9 weeks, and then go back to aggressive chemo, if it hasn't worked. Weekly Taxotere again. What do you think?"
I nod my head up and down.
He fills out the new consent form and tells me to take it to the infusion center.
Somehow he makes me able to stay in this moment with him. We even talk about his family trip, and he smiles so big when he says his 6 year old walked all over the city they had visited, and its good to see pride in a son, beaming forth from a Dad. Its always a brief moment that he steps out of "doctor" mode, and it feels good to sit side by side with him.
He walks me to infusion and says I may have to wait awhile for infusion, as they seek insurance approval for the TDM1. "See you in 3 weeks!" He saunters off.
So I've barely sat down and I look up to see Annie coming. She hugs me big and says, "Getting ready for Taxotere?" I smile as I tell her he's already changed his mind and tell her about the TDM1. Somehow, she knows when I'll be at the clinic and then comes to find me at some point. She is compassion and warmth, and whispers she'll say a prayer that approval comes quickly.
And let me tell you- I barely sit down- and they tell me I'm approved and my room is ready. How's that for answered prayer? Insurance approval is huge, and that Roger Maris has the drug available is equally as huge.
It was just the week prior that I happened to run into Alesha, one of the infusion nurses, and she took the time to stop and ask how I was doing. I hadn't seen her in awhile. But we said maybe sometime soon I'd see her again?
So I settle into my chair and look up to see, who was assigned to me this Tuesday? It's Alesha! We're both surprised. Its crazy how blessed I feel, in the midst of the mess of it all. When I pray for "strength" to get though all of this, somehow He provides for me. Sending me all the right people to see me through.
Infusion lasts 3 hours for the loading dose. I use my time to journal my gratitude which fills page after page in my book. I'm done in time to meet with my stage iv, Fourward support group. It's very humbling to be surrounded by woman, who are so likely going to say, "me too," whenever we share about our latest news. I'm humbled and honored all at once to call them friends.
Its a lonnngggg day. As I wait for a ride home, I'm surprised to see it's Nolan who drives up to get me. The tears still lie just below the surface, and I keep them in check so my son doesn't have to see. Somehow, its simply enough that at 16, he drives to Roger Maris to pick his mom up from her chemo.
The rest of the week I'm nauseous. Achy. Emotionally wrung out. Summer is slipping through my fingers as I clean through my desk top photos. Glorious sun shining in so many. Plus nights out with several friends. And a sprinkling of some good books. Somehow the light always finds a way to shine through the dark and hard. Somehow...