Monday, October 27, 2014

Cancer is No Walk in the Park

A week and a half ago I awoke with pain in my jaw. More specifically, my tooth. This particular tooth has a crown, which by no means equals royalty of the molar world. In the past it has given me a bit of issue, but nothing alarming. X-rays would indicate it was just me clenching my jaw when I slept.In the past, my dentist would readjust it to suit my goofy bite.

So, my chemotherapy treatments are scheduled on Wednesdays. Every Wednesday. The treatment I was due to receive is what I call the mega-dyna-whoppin' treatment. That one packs a wallop. Before getting that treatment blood work is done and I meet with my oncologist or nurse practitioner to have vitals checked and to discuss the blood work results. If the stars are aligned then treatment is a go. Sadly, my platelets were not high enough to safely deliver the infusion. So, it had to be postponed. The lighter of the treatments was given with hopes the following week my platelets would be higher.

Enter funky tooth. A visit to the dentist would reveal an infection had set in. Antibiotics were prescribed. He also gave me a referral to an oral surgeon to discuss extraction of the offending tooth. An appointment was scheduled for two weeks away. Argh.

The treatment that week was postponed again even though I was on antibiotics. Until the tooth is extracted I won't get the mega-dyna-whoppin' dosage. As I understand it, chemo suppresses the immune system. Something minor, even though being treated, could knock my body way off kilter and send me to the hospital with a deeper, more serious infection that is harder to treat.

UGH! This news sent my mind reeling and panic set in.Surely without that mega treatment my cancer would grow, metastasize and cripple my healing. I sat with one of the nurses and sobbed. She reminded me that in a week my platelets had more than tripled.This year has been filled with so many set backs. It is proof that you cannot count on things going as planned.

I did get the Herceptin treatment. It doesn't compromise my immune system, apparently. It helped me feel that something was still being done to inhibit the growth. Even with that treatment I still fretted. It was hard for me not to concern myself with all the things that could be going on in my body without the consistent treatments. But what could I do? Worrying was pointless, I convinced myself.

Focus on something positive. Yes. What is good about this hiccup in my treatment plan? Well, my energy level seemed higher. My appetite seemed normal. I could taste the food being consumed. The weather was warming and sunny. It seemed there was a blessing in disguise in my midst. Was I being granted a taste of what life will soon be again when all the treatments are over and I am clear of cancer? That is what I choose to believe. Rather than wallow in sadness over what could not be, I reveled in the gift being given.

I decided to utilize the return of my energy. After dropping my son at Kankakee Community College, I set off on the trail behind the school along the river. Along the 2.5 mile walk I took many photos. My head was cleared of negativity while my smartphone was being filled with the beauty of the sights. Upon returning home, my neighbor lady was raking leaves at her home on the property of the Methodist church where her husband is the pastor. She called out to me asking if I had the day off work. I shared that I've been in medical leave. She dropped her rake and walked over. In our conversation I learned that her mother is a breast cancer survivor. After about an hour of chatting she asked if she could pray with me. Such an invitation always makes me cry. We've passed one another a lot over a few months, but never have we had a lengthy talk. There was still worry in my mind over the lapse in my treatments, but the conversation with her put me at ease. I was reminded to have faith...to hold true.

That walk was so refreshing that I felt compelled to walk at another location the following day. Again, numerous photos were taken. Perry Farm path leads to the river. The trail there is tree lined which provided a much needed canopy of protection from the sunshine. It was quite a bit warmer. Vitamin D is recommended through this journey. It will be winter soon and the days to stroll along in the sunshine will be but a memory.

I have not been the world's most patient person. This journey is proving to be more life altering than I thought it would be. A year of treatments seems like an eternity. It is all about perspective. As cliche as it sounds, taking each day as it comes and learning to adjust is my salvation.


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