I’ve currently been on treatment for six months. In that time, I’ve had good response in that, according to my most recent scans, my tumors have either shrunk or remained the same size, and no new tumors have popped up. Those most recent scans were in November and my next scans are scheduled for February. In the meantime, all I have to go on to determine the state of my cancer is how I feel and the lab work that I get before each monthly infusion. The lab work doesn’t tell me much about my cancer, it’s mostly to determine if I’m having side effects such as elevated liver enzymes or thyroid issues — side effects that might cause my treatment to be stopped, or at least suspended. So far, my lab results have been good, except for an immune reaction which caused me to have diabetes and end up in intensive care, but that’s a topic for a another post. As for my health, that’s where the waiting and worrying really come in to play.
I have some other health issues besides cancer. I’ve had asthma since I was a kid, but that’s well controlled. I also have a hernia, which I’ve had for a couple of years, and am dealing with it by hoping it doesn’t get worse. And cataracts, which aren’t so bad that I can’t drive, but I’ve put off correcting them because, well, I’ve got enough on my plate right now. Oh, and now I have type 1 diabetes, which I have to deal with by watching my diet and taking insulin. Just a couple of years ago, my medical team was my PCP. Now my medical team could fill a Rolodex. Is Rolodex still around?
Back to the waiting and worrying. I’m 62 years old. I expect the usual aches and pains that come with my age. What I don’t know, however, is if these aches, pains, or other abnormalities are side effect, symptoms or just something I would have just shrugged of before all this happened.
Here’s an example from today: Prior to last summer, my normal weight was between 150 and 155 lbs. After the diagnosis, and particularly, after my stint in the ICU in November, it was down to 135 lbs. I’m 5’11” tall, so I’ve always been thin, but now I’m in the area of dangerously thin. I really don’t have much left to lose. I was able to raise my weight to close to 140, but recently it has dropped again down to 136, according to my bathroom scale. I’m actively trying to gain weight, but it’s hard, because I also have to watch my carb intake due to the diabetes. I think I’m eating a lot, but apparently, not enough to put the pounds back on, which is frustrating. I don’t know whether my inability to gain weight is due to my cancer, the medicine that I’m taking for my cancer, my diabetes, or something else. I’ve looked up cachexia, which is a wasting away of muscle and stored fat due to cancer or some other serious disease. I don’t think I have it, but the fact that I’ve looked it up should tell you where my head is at.
I don’t tell Lynn everything I’m thinking, because I don’t want her to worry more than she already does. Oddly, she was always the worrier in the family. My attitude was always to not worry and hope for the best. Now, I feel like I’m the worrier, but that could be because she’s not telling me everything she’s worried about because she doesn’t want me to worry. It seems like we’re often on a worrier’s seesaw, where one us gets down and the other one has to be up to support the one who’s down. It doesn’t work if we’re both down at the same time, although that has happened, too. What has been extremely rare, is for both of us to be up at the same time.