Today was maintenance chemo round 1. We removed the drug Irinotecan from my treatment plan. While very effective in my treatment it also carries the most unpleasant side effects. The idea is that the remaining drugs will keep my cancer from growing and we will stay in the “stable” zone for a season.
Quantity & Quality
There is no end date for this maintenance chemotherapy. It will all depend upon how my body responds. As Dr. Saroha makes treatment plans we talk about quantity and quality of life. It is a balancing act. The goal is to increase quantity while not decreasing quality. There are times we make decisions for the sake of quantity (like pursuing this round of maintenance chemo) while quality takes a back seat. Other times quality wins out (as in the break I took from all treatment) and we monitor my tumors until they resume growth and have an impact upon quantity. The whole thing is a balancing act. I am very glad to have Dr. Sarhoa walking with me through this. He is sensitive to both quantity and quality and is passionate about finding the correct balance for me. If I can handle this maintenance chemo well we will accomplish increasing both quantity and quality.
Tonight I am feeling much better than I have following my last twelve (12) aggressive chemo treatments. My nausea is much better. For the past twelve treatments I would be taking my nausea medicine around the clock following chemotherapy. So far I am handling this new regimen much better. If this is a sign of what is to come I am feeling positive about increasing both quantity and quality at the same time…a win-win for me.
During treatment today I learned something new. My nurses do not want me to suffer during treatment. They have ways to treat just about every side effect and get frustrated if you do not share the reality of your experience. Their goal is to make treatment as easy and comfortable as possible. I have learned that it is best not to suffer in silence, my caregivers want to know and help. Early this morning my nausea was rough. On the way to treatment I was in rough shape and had to stop and get some things to try and settle my stomach. A few hours into my treatment I shared with my nurses that my nausea was bad and getting worse. “We have not given you anything that would cause you nausea yet, your chemo drugs will start in a few minutes.” I laughed, and asked what we had been doing for the past few hours if I had yet to get chemo drugs. We do an hour worth of fluids, some nausea medicine and other drugs BEFORE the chemo drugs. I knew we were right on schedule but it was kind of funny.
This explains some things
“Maybe you have “anticipatory nausea?” Anticipatory nausea…what in the world is that? Well, it turns out “anticipatory nausea” is a real thing. Your body comes to know and recognize times when nausea effects you and symptoms arise before the actual event. My nurse shared that some people have nausea as soon as they get up on treatment day. Others start to feel the effects on the car ride to the office. Still others are overcome as they walk in the office door. The longer she talked the more I recognized pieces of my own life. Anticipating treatment has often led me to feel poorly and this new idea certainly helps explain some things.
Our Amazing Bodies
Throughout this journey I have been amazed by the human body. My body’s ability to anticipate, heal, survive is humbling. I give Abba Father all praise and honor. There have been times my body has know what was to come and began to anticipate what was coming in very real and physical ways. This is just another new way to view and think about the journey. It is clear this is not something that is just “in your head.” Our bodies are very beautiful things and take steps in the future based upon past experiences. Up till now the most vivid illustration of this was when I started my second round of chemo. I had been chemo free for a whole year. As soon as treatment started my body recognized what was going on. The side effects that took months to show up during round one were present by the second treatment round two. Dr. Saroha explained that my body “recognized” what was happening and reverted to feeling and acting like it did at the end of my first round. It was kind of like a light switch being turned on, instant side effects.
The upside is that I can anticipate the “anticipatory nausea” and begin taking some drugs to counteract it early on my treatment days. On the way home from treatment I asked Nancy if she wanted to join me with some “participatory nausea”. Much like a husband has sympathy pains while their wife is pregnant…she could join me in my nausea. My suggested was greeted with a look of disdain. Nancy is a great support but I think she drew the line at “participatory nausea.” 🙂
God is Good All the Time…All the Time God is Good … even when the “anticipatory nausea comes my way.