I started Round 4 of my 6 rounds of chemo on Tuesday. It is really taking a toll on me. I came home from the infusion center, after having slept for a couple of hours during my treatment, and slept all afternoon. In the past Wednesday has been a pretty good day but this week it wasn’t. I was utterly exhausted and slept for almost 12 hours. I’ve also been very weepy this week and have been struggling not to snap at my patient husband for things that normally wouldn’t bother me. And I am just wiped out. No energy at all. Everything is a struggle.
Chemo brain is also becoming a significant factor in my life. I couldn’t find my contact lenses despite looking at every box of lenses in the closet. I had a distinct memory of putting the boxes of new lenses in the drawer where I used to keep my brushes and combs (I threw them out and will buy new ones when my hair starts to grow back). That memory was a falsehood! So when W came home I asked him to help me and he found them immediately, right where I’d been looking. I also tripled-booked a piano lesson spot this week. Fortunately one child ended up being out of town and the father of another was very understanding when I told him what I’d done. His child, who is a very busy teenager, probably was happy for the break anyway.
I’ve always been a list maker and organized, but I was already struggling with menopause brain when I found out I had cancer. Now I’ve got chemo brain on top of it. I’m struggling to remember names and the correct words for things. My brain feels mushy all the time. This is no fun. I simply don’t trust myself. If I have something on the stove I have to stay in the kitchen or I’ll forget about it. I can still teach piano, which is a blessing to me, not simply because of the money, but because interacting with my students does me so much good. I hope I don’t have to give it up, but if I can’t give the students what they need (and what their parents are paying for) I’ll have to face up to it and take a break.
So enter my wonderful doctor, my gynecologic oncologist, Dr. F. Today was my appointment with her now that I’m halfway through chemo. She is very caring and compassionate. And she made me feel so much better. She said that I’m getting some of the toughest chemo they throw at ovarian cancer patients (once a week for three weeks, then a week off—it’s known as “dose dense”) and that rounds 4 and 5 are especially tough. She says people usually feel better in round 6 but that’s probably because they know they’re at the end. I’ll see her after I finish chemo but first I’ll get a CT scan of my lungs, abdomen and pelvic area. After that I’ll have blood drawn every three months for the CA125 cancer marker (which is now down to 8—hurray!). If it goes up from the baseline after chemo is finished they’ll watch it for another three months. If it goes up from there they’ll do a scan. It’s not safe to do CT scans every three months—it’s a lot of radiation.
I asked about getting into some kind of trial to suppress recurrence of this terrible disease and she was very encouraging about that. She said that based on my excellent results somebody will want me in their trial. I really don’t want to go down this road again, so I don’t care where I have to travel, I’ll go there. Of course that is still some months away but it’s another positive step.
So that’s where I am today. I’m not sick, I’ve got my sweet husband coming home from work soon and I’m going to meet a Facebook friend and her husband in person tomorrow when they arrive in North Carolina for a vacation. Life is still good and I’m still living it, just at a little bit slower pace, and trying not to complain (too much).