Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1 KJV)
I was reading in Psalms where this word “Arise” caught my attention and made my heart leap. King David is such a Drama Queen, I got caught up in that drama and felt his intense emotion. I looked up every verse with the word in it. David asked God to Arise. God asks men to arise. Peter told the dead to arise, on and on it goes. After feeling so weary this was a promise moving in me when my emotions had grown weary. God is faithful.
If this experience with cancer is metaphorically like a roller coaster ride I think I'm at full speed now. Before being diagnosed I was so sick with symptoms, then the oncologist loaded me with symptom relieving medications so that I was starting her treatment plan against an illness I no longer felt. The last thing I shared in this blog was the news that after my last treatment and tests the doctor felt the cancer might be refractory and that more treatments were advised by a team of oncologists at UK. The treatments I'm taking now are the same as all along but this last dose seemed to smack me much harder than any previously. The best way I can think to describe how I'm feeling physically is it's like having the flu. Just wiped out, in pain and extremely fatigued. I've spent a lot more time in bed. When I get out and do things the distraction (and Tylenol) gives me strength but then I suddenly crash and the fatigue hits hard. I've had a couple of really rough car rides home. When home I either fall in a fitful sleep or lie awake exhausted but too fatigued and painful for sleep to come. So I'm feeling the illness again or at least feeling the fight. I don't think this is going to be one of those quick carnival rides, more like a theme parks biggest, but even those end fairly quickly.
My last 2 doctors visits brought great news and helpful explanations. The great news was found in an X-ray ordered to determine if I was developing pneumonia which my oncologist thought she heard in a lung. The radiologist report indicated that pneumonia was not present and furthermore the tumors visible on the X-Ray were shrinking. The chemotherapy is working again. ARISE! My weariness had been replaced with anticipation by this command to Arise and anticipation was answered with progress. The doctor explained that while the medicine is working it is also becoming more difficult for my body to tolerate it. At my first two treatments, before receiving it intravenously, an injection of one of the drugs was given in my arm as a precaution to detect an allergic reaction. The second of these injections left a small uncomfortable knot in my arm that has never gone away. In the last weeks that knot has grown larger and a bruise has appeared on the surface of the skin. The doctor said the flu like symptoms, the fatigue and this knot are all the result of my body being subjected repeatedly to the chemotherapy. She explained that a treatment attacks my body which gets busy trying to recover. Before it can fully recover it is attacked with another treatment. The knot is my body developing an allergy to the medication. The increased fatigue is my body not being able to fully recover. White counts are low. They are still rising between treatments but not as high as previously. The result is I feel sick again but the great news is that treatment is working against the cancer and I have only one treatment left.
After that final treatment more tests will be ordered. Hopefully the oncologist will find that the chemo has done its job and I can go to the final stage of treatment which is radiation. If she is not satisfied with the test results she will refer me to another clinic. I am hopeful this won't be necessary.
One other note. The month long break in treatment allowed my hair to start growing back. It's very short but so far is not falling out again. I really hope it will hang on for this one more treatment. It was hard but I finally gave up on those scarves. When totally bald I would not have felt courageous enough but with some short hair I finally worked up the courage to just “be me.” The scarves are hot and I think make me look ill. I get lots of sympathetic looks and opened doors when out in a scarf which I don't get without one. Angeline says she thinks the short hair gives the impression that I'm fighting rather than just being sick. At any rate, I'm glad it's growing and am hoping for a thick head of hair soon.
So thank you again for prayers and words and gifts of support. I'm so grateful for the encouragement I have received from friends and even strangers. I'm sick and I'm tired but thanks to love I'm not sick and tired - at least not too much. I might mention to close family and friends now and then that I'm ready to have this behind me. : ) Somewhere between bulked up courage to walk around with very little hair and whining to my long-suffering sister-in-law on the phone is this balance of emotion where I mostly reside in hope and peace.
Thank you!!!