Eat My Tumor Marker Dust

August 10, 2006

O Best Beloveds, the otherwise perfect Dr. W. did not want me to get all giddy with possibility at our last tumor marker meeting–you remember, logarithms and such–but please let the record show that as of this week (not counting Tuesday’s chemo) they are…


Down from 97, dontcha know and aren’t we heading towards 0-32 and NORMAL, yes indeedy! Ah, I shouldn’t get cocky, but I feel freedom, of a sort, anyway. Can I have a little “Yee-hah!” please?

At yesterday’s Dr. W. meeting, which was before this news came down the pike, the following was the plan:

1) I do watered down chemo next week, and then get three weeks off, in part to accommodate another trip (yes, ANOTHER. More details on that in an upcoming missive). Then another round of three (including the third week watered down), two weeks off, and one more set of three, with the assumption that somewhere in there I would have a normal blood test and some body scans to match. It is possible that this news, and a normal range markers in a month (not guaranteed but certainly not inconceivable at this point) COULD change his mind about the duration of chemo, but he also showed his true colors by admitting he wouldn’t mind giving me at least one more round post-normal, to seal the deal. “And I know you,” he said. “If you know a definitive end point, you can handle a little more.” He’s right.

2) Release does depend on clear body scans, but I’m not worried about that. 51, I say!

3) The end of chemo will be immediately followed by a new aromatase inhibitor, like Femara only the upgraded version, the name of which neither Steve nor I can recall, but which sounds like “Fuzzy,” a once a month injection. I will also be getting once a month tumor marker blood draws for the foreseeable future. This is more frequent than in the past (every three months) but it makes sense to me. I will also go on the tumor vaccine around the same time. Shots and blood draws are why, in part, I’m going forward with my port installation next Tuesday. A number of Su-PORT-ers, including Lou, who has installed “hundreds of them” (I begged him just to slap one in my chest on Monday when we were hanging out, but apparently, it takes a bit more prep than that), have called in their testimonies, and it seems to make sense for the time being, what with more chemo and all. (See below, too.) I can always have it taken out some secure months down the road.

4) This week’s needle stick, speaking of, went great. The patient before me had endured five when I showed up, and I went over to chat with her, and commiserate and suggest we become Port Pals, and stroked her other arm while Chemo Nurse Lisa went for #6 and generally talked a bunch of nonsense and this time, her stick was good. She called me her good luck charm; I say I just distracted her so she relaxed enough, and she was a brave brave gal, as I sure the hell would have been out of there by #4 failure. Anyway, I was rewarded with a first time success, both then and the next Fluid day. Still, the Gem-whatever it is burned again, and since I’m assured this doesn’t happen with a port, I guess I’m glad to go that route for however many more times I have to do this.

5) Unfortunately, speaking of chemo wearing out its welcome, I had breakthrough nausea yesterday for the first time, well, ever. I didn’t throw up, but I was still an unhappy Cancer Chick when I came in, begging for as much helpful goop as they could shove in me. Relief was fast enough and lasting enough that I was fine last night and today, if more than a bit groggy. I have nothing to complain about, if one morning of serious quease is all I’ve had to deal with ever. Still, I’m happy about watered-down chemo, which didn’t affect me badly before, and of the upcoming three week break, which also helped my endurance level.

6) My hair is making a sort of preview comeback. I have some five o’clock shadow, but only about one third of the follicles are present, not enough to really cover my scalp, so it won’t be enough to go without scarves for awhile. Similarly, I’ve got about half my lashes (or less) back on each eye, but enough to carry mascara, which really helps me look less freaky. This, and that I can almost see the end of this merry mishap and still haven’t gained a pound (seriously; I also haven’t lost a pound, either, which is weird, but I’m not complaining, no sir), is helping my self esteem, which also helps with endurance. That we might really be rounding the corner to the end is helping a lot more, though.

Nonetheless, I do believe I’m going out for a celebratory cupcake,