Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Day One of Round Two

Dear Friends and Family,

First of all, thanks to all of you who have shared your thoughts, told me you are praying or meditating for me, sending me energy, light and hope. All gratefully accepted with gratitude.

Yesterday, I went to the oncologist. There are two “things”, lesions, on my liver. As far as they know, on not in. This is significant, evidently. This is considered a recurrence of the ovarian cancer, not a new cancer. Ovarian cancer is tricky, it can shed cells and sometimes they land on body parts like livers and the peritoneal cavity.

It turns out that I was a “primary non-responder” to the chemotherapy I had in the spring and summer. About 20% of the women who take it are. This is not the kind of special I wanted to be, for once, being in the other 80% would have been far more preferable. But special I am, so now they are trying a new drug. Why oh why could I have not been "special" in another way, gifted with a great singing voice (I am so not), or talent for math (no again) or perhaps even a green thumb (not literally, you know what I mean). Or be in Mensa? Primary non-responder was never my goal.

The new drug is called Doxil; you can read all about it here It is a good site. Reading about preventing side effects, that will be interesting for me, who is nearly always cold anyway. They give you a gift bag and the swag in this one was of a far superior quality to the first chemotherapy bag. Perhaps this bodes well. And it was all purple, a bonus for me, it is my favorite color. I never got into that Teal, well not too much. Purple and teal do go well together, however.

Seriously now:

The side effects are skin friction and mouth sores (yeech). I am supposed to avoid activities that cause friction, like typing, so I will keep it to a minimum. And I got home after 8 PM, so I was wiped out. And still had to be mommy and do reading and getting her ready for bed, and all that without whining (me, not her). We skipped the bath and today she was really rather rank. But I digress.

What I know is that it *might* work. It might not. I will have it every four weeks, for a while (a while is perhaps 5-6 times or possibly more). It does not have the automatic hair loss, so these salt and pepper curls might be around after all.

I do feel that I can try to fight and will keep an optimistic attitude, and use complementary modalities as well, acupuncture, polarity, Reiki, massage, all of it. And prayer.

Several of you have offered to come out and help with Sofie and me. Laurie, a dear friend who lives in Santa Cruz who I see rarely these days, will likely be first. The week she will be here, the second treatment, is unique, because this time Jamie and I have treatment and hence side effects the same day! She (Jamie) will be totally out of comission that week, so this help is invaluable. All offers for this assistance will be gladly accepted and I plan to start scheduling through the spring soon! I will be back in touch with those of you who offered. I am not supposed to do anything with heat (like using a toaster or the over or even a microwave). Which will make cooking kind of hard, so I guess those of my NC friends who offered food were spot on. Lots of little meals, frozen in plastic containers (I know, toxic to microwave, but I cannot lift the other type with tongs)will get us by.

I feel a bit more calm. I have a sense of my mortality being shorter than I might have planned, what with my hearty Ukrainian peasant stock and my grandfather living into his 80’s and all. I guess this means that planning for retirement might not be the priority it once was. But I do want to live to see my feisty daughter grow up. I want to be challenged by the drama of Middle School. I want to travel with her, to show her the parts of South Africa that captured my heart and soul the year she was born.

Jamie and I are talking a lot. We have to tell her about this in some way, and that will be hard, but I want her to understand that although Mommy is sick, she wants Sofie to feel safe and for us to have a long and loving relationship. Even if we argue over oatmeal vs. Cheerios at 7:45 in the morning. Jamie and I are talking about taking a “memorable” vacation this summer, and then perhaps next summer, going to S. Africa with her, even if she is only almost 8. If time is going to be shorter, I want to make it memorable for her. And for me.

Life feels like an even more precious daily gift, one that I continue to cherish. It has brought me closer to my friends, old (long term, not old) and new. It is teaching me humility and asking for help. It is going to be tough, the next few months, the next year. But I can do this, I think. I hope. I pray.

I am going upstairs to ice my feet and hands again. I went to work today and did pretty well, but worried all day about the friction thing. I have to worry about something, I guess.

Good night, all and much love.

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