Posts Tagged ‘oncology’

“I throw up six more times and two more shots and I’m done!”

In Cancer Sucks on December 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm

That’s my daughter’s mantra right now. I really love her math on this, it’s her sense of humor and her reality in timing out the end of her treatment. It’s nice to finally see a glimmer of light at the end of this very long dark tunnel as it where.

It’s funny I haven’t posted for over two months and since the successful operation removing her softball size tumor (although I have been “posting” my reactions and thoughts in my head all along). I should have been elated yes!? But even though the surgery went exceedingly well and was done in 3 hours as opposed to the projected 8 to 10, it was hard to celebrate when you’re watching your daughter react badly to morphine and the recovery is a minor ordeal in and of itself.

After optimistic hints from the surgical team that we would have clear margins, the tumor had come out “cleanly” and intact, the plastic surgeon and hand specialist who were on call were not needed and the amount of muscle taken out due to the proximity of the tumor or in the margins was minimal, so functionality of the hand and arm was expected to be near normal. There was a lot to worry about with this operation to say the least … we find out finally(!) a week later that the margins all came out clean … and a sigh of relief … coupled with the let-down of the pathology being indecisive about the effect four rounds of chemo and a round of radiation actually had on the tumor (we went through all that for what?). Although the tumor was intact and did not metastasize indicates that all this treatment had some positive effect (right!?) … It all could have been so much worse or so many gradations of worse.

Yet, still hard to get happy as we are then reminded that the protocol still requires three more rounds of chemo, so we were initially looking at early January as the end of treatment. But, knowing as well all along that you’re never really done, she’ll have a lifetime of CT scans and MRIs to be sure it never comes back … or another type of cancer strikes (as happened to my mother/her grandmother), so in the back of our minds we are very aware that it never really ends … all part of the over-arching “Cancer Sucks!” theme here.

Thanksgiving is in the hospital for Post-Op Round One of chemo, so not exactly festive, even though the donated turkey dinner is very welcome and good. And we have a second T-day dinner at home with her grandparents after being released from the hospital. Again not exactly festive as the conversation isn’t exactly a fun-filled catalog of the past year’s delights … but interestingly the end of November and early December does turn in to happy time.

My daughter is in very good spirits, hence the quote-title of this post. Her wound and arm heal rapidly. It looks like she will have nearly full movement in her arm and certainly has full functionality of her hand. I’ll be surprised if there is even any need for rehab, so I think this plays in to this feeling of general goodness lately. We just like all being together, seeming to relish the uniqueness of it, given the tumult of the past five months. We just liked being for a change.

So the girls pool their saved b-day money and buy a little pet Roborovski or Robo hamster (I typed out the breed because I know we will forget what he was in distance future), whom for reasons I can’t comprehend, they name Joseph, which seems unnecessarily formal for a hamster …so to their annoyance I call him Joe. Just an example of why it was so nice to be “normal” for a change.

Prepping for Post-Op Round Two of chemo did put a dent in it all as one would expect. One of my last bonding moments the weekend before my daughter was off to the hospital again, was shaving her itchy head with my new beard/hair trimmer. The new rounds of chemo was making her hair fall out again … but, it made her happy to have a buzz cut, she’s very practical about all this. So yes, on one level it was appalling sad to have to shave my 11 year-old daughter’s head because she losing her hair due to chemo due to cancer. But on the other hand seeing how she was handling this in a matter-of-fact practical way made me really proud of her and proud of her strong psyche through this. OK, writing this now and thinking about it is emotional and is reminder of the suckyness of this whole situation.

But, the goods news, coupled with the ever-necessary bad news (third round of chemo postponed until after surgery to remove two minuscule spots on her lungs in early January, one of which we knew about already, but are apparently they’re right next to each other and they don’t what they are, but chemo hasn’t made them disappear and our oncologist even said that CT scans are so detailed now that they find all sorts of benign things all the time, but surgery is still the best option just in case, especially since the effect of the chemo on this type of tumor seems to be minimal).

Anyway, good news … she and my wife make it through another 4-day hospital stay on the preferred oncology wing with the great nurses and familiar faces and finally(!) a nice room-mate family. Which again is one of those “people are amazing” things in terms of both people’s goodness (this case) and people’s awfulness (got a whole laundry list of that for another time). So my younger daughter and I spring them early Friday evening which coincides with the weekly the Friday-nite pizza party for oncology patients, one of those “lucky” coincidences of her Tue-Fri treatment schedule. Everyone gets home happy, the girls are elated to be with each other again, and excited by the twinkling Hanukkah display on the mantel and that it begins next week (and happens to include eight nights of presents ). The pug is elated and relieved that everyone is home. Everyone is exhausted, but glad to be in their own beds with no IV pumps beeping in the background … just street noise and random barks from the pug’s crate for no apparent reason …