My battle plan, cancer I will tackle you

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The last week of January there was yet another day dedicated to doctor’s visits. I have never in my life seen so many doctors, visited so many waiting rooms, as I have since mid -December. When I was pregnant I thought that was way too many doctor’s appointment.

On Tuesday we went for my post op. Everything was just fine, the only surprise there was that I kept a bandaid for 10 days instead of 24 hours. But, hey, the good point is my skin is not too sensitive.

After the appointment we went for a romantic dinner. There is nothing more romantic than a dinner in an Italian restaurant across the street from a cancer hospital. I was allowed to go rogue and eat some unhealthy food. “Don’t get used to this unhealthy food,” my husband warned me.

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Wednesday was our first appointment with my oncologist. So many people around and I can just bet that they are all sick. Finally they call my name, I pass the entrance test of giving them my name and date of birth. I have no idea why but whenever they ask me for my date of birth I get nervous I won’t pass and accidentally tell them the wrong one.

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Now I must say something about my doctor. She was born in Saigon, Vietnam as the youngest of six children. Her father worked for an American company. At the end of the war in Vietnam, her family was trying to escape. Her parents even considered attempting to escape on a night boat, but because that would have been too dangerous for their young children, they put them in an orphanage, hoping they would be evacuated to the US like other children. In the end, the family was offered a place on an evacuation plane, the father had to run to the orphanage and adopt his own children, my future doctor and her older brother! A former refugee is now saving my life as well as other people’s lives. Compassion is what makes people, and the world, great.

I had a long, very long, chat with my doctor. For my kind of cancer, I will need a lot of shit. Chemotherapy, 12 rounds weekly for three months. After that, another 9 rounds of herceptin infusions once every three weeks. Then I will take a one month break and continue with radiation for 5 weeks, 5 days a week for 5-7 minutes and also 5-10 years of hormonal pills. Wow, just wow! Maybe if I visit Fukushima or Chernobyl, I can shorten the radiation treatment time.

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After an almost two hour long consultation with my doctor, my eyes are popping out of my head. “What about a shortcut? Any chance we would just skip some part of treatment since it was so small?” I asked half-jokingly, half-seriously. “Unfortunately, no. But don’t forget that this all is just recommended. You don’t have to do any of these treatments.” Harrumph, so we have a serious discussion, me and my husband, about the pros and cons. Of course the whole debate was more or less just academical as deep inside I knew I would go with the treatment. I just needed to explore and feel like it was my decision and I wasn’t just following  orders.

Anyway I believe I am ready for my chemotherapy’s possible, and delightful, side effects:

1.Nausea? No problem there. Especially since my mom’s poisonous juice. She finally did it this week, when she gave me a simple beet juice which I drank on an empty stomach and about twenty minutes later threw up. I am ready.

2. Exhaustion? Thank you, my baby, you definitively prepared me for exhaustion ahead. Nobody can be more exhausted than a mother to a newborn who needs to be fed every two hours. I hope.

3. Weight gain? Oh, come on. Me who in 8 months of pregnancy gained 60 pounds for a premature baby who only weighed 4 pounds? I am not worried there.

Well, the only hits under my belt are the possibility of:

1)Neuropathy – Losing feeling in my hands/feet.

2) Menopause at 37 – And if the chemo doesn’t do it, the daily medication for the next 5-10 years should do the trick.

3) Heart failure – But, guess what, they will monitor me. Uff, so I will be safe.

4) And don’t forget my hair. “Hair loss will start about three weeks in,”says my doctor. “Maybe not?”shyly me. “Oh, yes, definitively, yes” with a nice smile counters the doctor.

Chemotherapy here I go. My first is on February 10th.

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