Monday, June 16, 2008

Can you pass the cisplatin and etoposide please?

I am finding I do most of my blog updates when Linda is in active treatment, and this week has proven to be no different. I sit here typing this on 08/08/08 and have pretty much got caught up on current events. Although I think about our cancer all the time, during down weeks when Linda gets her infusion(s), I think about it every second of every day. I guess writing about it helps take some of the edge off, but it still eats at me. Has it been therapeutic? Somewhat, yes. I can write paragraph after paragraph on how fantastic Linda is, because it is easy, she is incredible. When I write about her, I don't have to deal with my own shit. Someday, maybe, I'll write my 'woe is me' post about the fears, guilt, sadness, anger, and the 'this sucks' feelings that are apparently common to co-surviving husbands, but for now let's stick with the easy stuff.

This week, Linda finished her 3rd cycle of cisplatin+etoposide (EP) chemotherapy. The EP regimen is not typical for breast cancers and is usually part of lung or testicular cancer treatment. Recent studies have shown that platinum based therapies have made a significant increase in the 10-year disease free survival statistics for cancers similar to Linda's. The regimen consists of 4 cycles each separated by 3 weeks (last time it was 6 cycles separated by 3 weeks). This time however, instead of 1 day of chemo per cycle with TAC, EP gives you 3 days in a row per cycle. Day 1 is cisplatin+etoposide, day 2 is etoposide only as is day 3. A shorter overall time-frame as compared to TAC therapy, but twice as many infusions.

Linda tolerates EP pretty well. The first cycle was the big unknown. Side effects are similar to TAC and yes, this usually includes hair-loss. For a while, we thought the Linda 1% factor would leave Linda with her new hair, but there is no doubt now that it'll all go...again :(. I think the lows are a bit lower than TAC but the intermediate recovery seems to be a bit quicker. Because of Linda's nausea issues with TAC, she over-prescribed herself with Decadron on her first round of EP. It is a steroid and she became wired from it, unable to sleep and heard voices. She toned it down for #2 and #3 and they were much better...less crazy!

In 3 weeks we'll be done chemo. Linda says she is ripping the bell off the wall this time. I may give her a hand. Unfortunately, her last cycle falls on the first day of school, usually a big production around our house. Just another fucking reminder that our lives will never be the same. (wow, I just re-read that last paragraph and I think I'm in a funk, probably just my 'male period' moodiness I seem to have acquired over the past 8 months)

Unlike most narratives, there is no ending to this story. We just live life appreciating every day, even the shitty ones. I don't think there will ever be a "You're cured" day for us. It will be in the forefront of my mind for the near future, then maybe move it to the back shelf in my brain, then someday, God willing, we can have a day where we don't think about it.

Since starting this bog, I have learned that I am not alone in this. Many friends I haven't seen in almost 20 years have contacted me and sent their well-wishes and prayers, and it was this blog (and Facebook) that made that happen. Someday, hopefully, our experience will resonate with someone else going through what we are going through. Until then, I will continue to write as we find our way through this journey that fate has chosen for us.

1 comment:

Mitchell Ashey said...

Sometimes you don't know if you should feel back for you, for both of you, your wife or not at all. A life threatening disease seems to tell you there are a lot less answers and assumptions than you originally thought. You just have to rely on yourself, on both of you, and whatever faith you have.

Keep up the good writing, John. Prayers for both you and Linda.

Mitchell
http://www.breastcancerforhusbands.com