Monday’s dentist appointment was good. They said that a lot of cancer patients deal with dry mouth issues which can cause cavities and gave me some samples of biotene to help. They also said that ACT fluoride rinse would help with the problem as well. I’m happy to report that I had no cavities at this appointment. Yay!!
My husband and I met with the medical oncologist on Wednesday afternoon. Apparently, there is a computer program they use to enter your basic statistics (age and overall health) and cancer related statistics (size of tumor, number of invaded lymph nodes, etc.) and it spits out your statistical chance of survival 10 years from now. In other words, will I die from cancer setting up shop in another part of my body without any other treatment (i.e., chemo and hormone therapies). My chances of being alive in 10 years is 64% with a 1% chance of being hit by the proverbial bus. Adding just the hormone therapy increases my chance of survival 10 years from now to 74% from 64%. Adding just chemo increases my chance to 81% from 64%. Combining the two treatments increases my chance to 86%. After much thought, research, discussion with my husband and family, I have decided to do chemo and hormone therapy. Much of the decision is based on my age – I want to still be here 40 years from now – and the age of my children who are seven, five and three. They are far too young to lose their mom…even 10 years from now. Let’s just say that I never liked the movie Terms of Endearment particularly toward the end. I only saw it once, many many years ago but it comes to mind more often than I’d like these days.
I went to a baby shower Thursday evening and sat by two ladies who had survived cancer. One had survived breast cancer 11 years ago and the other had survived lung cancer. These beautiful women gave me hope. They also gave me some great advice as well as a list of additional symptoms. They called them… the ones they don’t tell you about. Some of them include what it’s like not having nose hairs and eye lashes. The fake eye lashes that I had been planning to wear may not stay on if my eyes are watering all the time.
On Friday, I met with radiation oncologist. We discussed how we can increase my chances of survival even more through radiation therapy. The percentage he quoted me was 16% if I did not do chemo or hormone therapy. They do not have stats on if you did chemo and radiation but not hormones or radiation and hormones but not chemo. Without a doubt, I feel that my best chances of being here 10 years from now will be to do all three.
At the hospital that I go to, the order in which each of these are implemented are chemotherapy then radiation therapy then hormone therapy. I will do eight rounds of chemo every other week covering 16 weeks. Radiation will begin about a month after my last chemo session and last six weeks. Hormone therapy will follow that step and last from five to 10 years. In each of these treatments, I have some fears which all comes down to one question: how will my body react? Will I get all of the symptoms/reactions/side effects that I’ve read and heard about or will I just breeze through it. For now, I’ve decided to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
My first chemo session is scheduled for April 11th. I planned the sessions for Friday’s so I can attempt to recover over the weekend. My intention is to work throughout the treatments. I know that I need to keep my mind busy with other things so that I don’t dwell on the cancer. In my case, dwelling on the cancer will only lead to depression…and way too much infomercial watching. 🙂 Just kidding, we gave up cable for Roku several years ago. But I would probably find time to actually watch shows like 48 Hours which only irritate me because at the end of the day, you don’t know if the accused in innocent or guilty.
Sounds like a good plan, an aggressive treatment plan! I hope treatment is speedy and you are able to keep working. 🙂
Thank you for sharing something so personal and emotional. You are a gifted writer and it’s compelling reading your experience. I’ll be praying for you.