In Which We Continue To Put Our Faith in Chemicals

July 16, 2009

O Best Beloveds, this little round of news is not good. My latest scans show, in keeping with the high tumor markers, a great deal of new cancer–my whole liver is involved now–plus more in the bones and various nodes here and there. Dr. W. also thinks the pain I’ve been having (those flu-like body aches) probably are from the cancer, as opposed to side effects of the not-so-exemplar Exempra. He also thinks that the failure of my left arm is cancer related, though he and my new neurologist can’t agree on what is doing it (tumors in the spine seem likely culprits). Oh, and he doesn’t want me to take much Vicodin any more, because it’s being shown to cause liver damage. Do you know, I think that’s the thing that’s ticking me off the most–in the immediate present, I mean, because it has the most immediate effect on me. What’s next? Dandruff even though I don’t have hair? Blisters, but I prove to be allergic to bandaids?

Okay, so what’s next? The Hail Mary pass, in the form of high dose estrogen, itself in the form of a pill three times a day. No big deal, right? Except for how either immediately, or in 3-5 days, or three weeks from now I could have tremendous pain for a few days. But that, in our upside down world, is good, because it likely means the cancer is being blasted apart from the estrogen. After that, I should feel all sorts of good, shiny, glossy and furry, because I’m on estrogen. That would be awfully swell, I have to admit. For the pain–both the possibly-from-cancer and the estrogen blast–I’m now on those patches you wear for three days at a time; I’m supposed to feel better on them than on Vicodin because it won’t make me woogy. But I’m on a low dose and so far–day one and a half of estrogen–I’m still hurting quite a bit. First a little (allowed) extra Vicodin helped, and then later, my brand new supply of pain lollipops; same stuff as in the patch, but a really fast (and fun!) delivery system. It worked pretty well, I have to say. And it didn’t taste medicinal.

So if the estrogen works–and I don’t even know whom I’m asking when I say this, but please, oh, please, let the estrogen work–then we are groovy. If not, we look at other chemos and try to figure out what might be effective enough to stop cancer progression without diminishing the quality of my life any further.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a bunch of new books, including the AS Byatt that’s out only in England, and the Persian mullberry tree we planted a couple of years ago is bearing. Have you had Persian Mullberries, Beloveds? They are the sweetest bundles of joy, only available for a few weeks a year, and should be consumed thoughtfully, meditatively, one at a time, relished slowly and carefully, while you watch your fingers get stained a pretty shade of pinkish-purple.

Or just pour heavy cream over them and eat with greedy, speedy gusto.

Either way, metaphor for life,