Don’t bother getting your hopes up

I saw my oncologist today (or, rather, the woman replacing Dr. M, who had to fly to Orlando for a conference) and as I feared, she bumped my chemo back another week. Except the chemo day unit is booked solid next week with the exception of the one day I can’t go in, so my treatment was bumped another week and now I don’t get my second treatment until the 24th.

I cried.

To most people, two weeks doesn’t seem like a long time. But starting off my six cycles of chemotherapy with a two-week delay is not terribly auspicious. It means that the earliest I can be finished now is mid-June. And that’s if I don’t have any other delays because of low blood counts, or infection, or illness. To give you an idea of how unlikely it is that I’ll make it through the rest of treatment without further delays, let me mention that four of my six cycles were delayed back in 2003 when I went through this the first time. Two of those were one-week delays, one was two weeks, and one was three weeks. That means I finished my treatment seven weeks later than I was supposed to. That’s almost two months.

And let’s not forget that my chemo start was already postponed by four weeks so that I could recover from my first surgery and infection, and we all know how well that worked for me. So forgive me if I don’t really believe that waiting another two weeks will make me that much healthier or stronger going into the next treatment cycle.

I don’t want to drag this out. I am tired of it. I’ve already lost the last eight months, a couple of friendships, all of my hair, some of my energy, part of my independence, several inches of my colon, and the ability to plan my life more than three weeks in advance to this recurrence. I feel sorry for myself much of the time (though I generally try to contain my self-sympathy to the blog). I just want to be able to be excited for things, to let myself feel hopeful about anything, but after having the chair kicked out from under my feet so many times, I’m kind of afraid to get off the ground.

I talked to a friend about this the other day. She is going through her own recurrence, one that came shortly after she finished her first round of treatment. She never really had a remission and even had a brief breast cancer scare between the end of her first treatment and the recurrence diagnosis. She said she won’t ever let herself feel the same sort of hope she did when she first finished treatment, that it’s too difficult to build yourself up like that just to be battered over and over again. It’s not a pessimistic attitude, it’s realistic. It’s not that we don’t want the best outcomes, but that we know the best outcome isn’t the most likely. (This is not to say I’m writing my obituary, but that it seems pretty unlikely, given all the complications so far, that the remainder of my treatment will be uneventful.)

On the positive side of having treatment delayed, I can now make plans to go to a house party, an opening at the Power Plant, and a progressive rock Purim party, all three of which I would have likely missed otherwise. Silver lining, or something.


About Alicia Louise

I'm a writer, editor, fact checker, storyteller, events organizer, chronically busy yet endlessly lazy, mildly neurotic (though I keep the neuroses well-hidden, one hopes) 32-year-old with recurrent ovarian cancer. I like people and good writing and straight talk. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people, including myself, but the people that I love, I love passionately; one may even say creepily. I try to keep that mostly to myself. I'd like to be charming, but I'm usually just a mess. I'm like a gull slamming into your windshield.
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