Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Sickness: Chapter 3

Yesterday I met the Top 6 Most Annoying People on the Planet.  They were all in the oncology waiting room at MCD.  I had plenty of time to figure out how annoying they were, because I waited over 2 hours to get to see the doctor.  I seriously doubt that 1) the upcoming presidential election can fix health care, and 2) that the disabled woman really had a hemi engine in her wheelchair like her bumper sticker claimed.
 
Dr. F said that my incision is healing nicely.  Although I still don't feel great, I am learning more every day about my new-and-not-so-improved insides.  It is a delicate balance of food and meds that will be tolerated.  Anything outside those imaginary boundaries is quickly rejected by my body and I pay the price for days.  Dr. F assures me that I will feel better, but it will take time.  Time as in months, not as in days. 
 
I was also released to drive a car and climb stairs as I feel that I am able.  That means more freedom, which I have sorely missed!  Last night, I went upstairs and tucked my cowboys into bed for the first time in three weeks.  Smile.
 
Then we moved on to the "what comes next" phase of the visit.  One of the two chemosensitivity tests have come back.  Dr. F gave me the stack of papers marked "FINAL REPORT" in big, bold letters.  At first, I didn't understand what I was looking at.  But as he began to talk, I began to absorb information.  On one side of the cover page of the report, there is a column that lists 13 different drugs, or families of related drugs, that are labeled "Agents Associated With Potential Lack of Benefit."  It means just what it says--each medicine listed there is ineffective in my body to fight cancer.  The list includes Taxol and Cisplatin, the two chemo drugs that rocked my world less than 2 years ago.  You can not imagine the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
 
There is another list on the other side of the page labeled "Agents Associated With Potential Benefit."  There is 1 drug listed there.  ONE.  There is ONE chemotherapy drug that might help me. 
 
I felt like I'd been punched in the gut.
 
I had gone in to this office visit believing that I had choices.  I was prepared to accept chemo, but I was also prepared to reject it if this test showed that the compatible chemo drugs were too harsh.  I believed that I was entitled to choose for myself.
 
It never entered my mind that I wouldn't have options.  And I didn't even need to ask Dr. F what would happen if I don't do the chemo.  I already know.  I went through hell, and it didn't matter.  I can barely wrap my mind around it.
 
I see now that I have no choices.  I have to do the chemotherapy.  It's one drug...one chance...my only chance.  This has to work, or......
 
STOP.
 
The drug is Doxil.  It is a cytotoxic drug that is used to treat aggressive forms of ovarian cancer and a specific type of sarcoma that is related to the AIDS virus.  That mental image is sobering.
 
Doxil is an irritant.  Side effects and their severity depend on how much of the drug is received.  Possible side effects include low blood counts (increased risk for infection), skin rash, hand-foot syndrome, peeling and/or sores on the skin, nausea, vomiting, hair thinning and/or loss, poor appetite, stomach/digestive issues.  Those are the main ones.  There is also a risk of interference with the pumping action of the heart.  My heart will be closely monitored for signs of disease or decreased efficiency at pumping blood.
 
If everything goes right, I will have my first Doxil infusion next Thursday.  I will do one infusion every four weeks for six cycles, with the last one in February.  We will do a CT scan in November and again in February to check progress.  I have found that past chemotherapy has left my veins in terrible shape, so I will be required to have another port put in.  We are still unsure when that surgery will be.
 
"My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me.  Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.  I said, 'Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest.  I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and the storm.'"  Psalm 55:4-8

13 comments:

Stephanie Click said...

Praying for you ... I don't have any more words than that at this point. Anything I could say more seems insignificant. Praying for you, your precious parents, your husband, your beautiful children, and your doctors.

Anonymous said...

I feel unable to breath also. I will say a prayer for you and Clint and the boys. I love you! Again, I am here if you need me.
Griz

Anonymous said...

Praying everyday for you! Keep fighting! All David needed to kill Goliath was ONE stone! Lisa Regester

Anonymous said...

praying for you all in alabama <3

Anonymous said...

Ms Allyson. I keep u in my thoughts all the time. praying for u today....

Rene' Fullick said...

Allyson,
I am wearing my Allyson bracelet. I am praying for you and your family.
Remember: you are not alone.
God Almighty is with you and a
band of Christ Followers as well!!

salciccioli said...

Allyson!
We will continue to pray and believe that chemo is not the only option ...but rather that God in His goodness reaches down and does a complete miracle in your body.
We will pray with all our might!
Dianna Salciccioli
(a friend of your sweet mama!)

Anonymous said...

Praying, praying, praying for you sweet Allyson!
Cheryl Hamilton

Gigi said...

words cannot express my love for you clint the boys..please come stay with me and you will be queen of my house..we will pop firecrackers..drink wine..and i can hug you forever..the boys can run wild..clint and rod can cookout..i love you allyson..my heart breaks for your pain....what can i do?..love love love aunt gigi...

The Horton Family said...

Crap. We are praying too buddy but crap just seems to be the right word.

Anonymous said...

You don't me,but I am a friend of your Godly parents.I taught in the children's Dept. under your mom until life threw me a curve ball.I almost got to meet you onetime,but was a little late.May I tell you that you are truly my hero,and I am in awe of your inner strength,and faith in God.Know this God has you in the palm of his hand,and he will never leave you. I pray for you and your boys daily and know that God has a purpose for your illness.God bless!

Anonymous said...

This encouraged my heart a few days ago and still. Maybe it will encourage yours.

Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me." "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are forever before me." Isaiah 49: 14-16

Bobbi Jo said...

I know it doesn't seem right, but God's plan is perfect. He knew before you were born that you would not have a choice today, and therefore you would choose to cling to Him. I love you friend, and I wish I could take away the pain. Praying.