On Monday I pushed myself to swim forty lengths: the season is coming to a close. The next morning I met with Jen Logan (a fabulous nurse practitioner) and my oncologist, Dr. Alice Shaw. Alice had told me some weeks ago that my previous scan had been reassessed and the measurement for progression had come back at 12.8. Technically, this meant that if my upcoming scan showed only minimal progression, I could stay on LDK for at least one more cycle.
However, in the days since, there has been a noticeable decline in my sense of well being. I’ve continued to lose weight, and am often short of energy and breath both. Part of the problem is that I am once again anemic; the recent addition of an iron supplement has proved helpful. Yet I am also symptomatic in a way that is distressingly familiar; the ragged cough and crackling sound my lungs make when I recline are clear indicators that cancer is beginning to get the upper hand.
On Tuesday we discussed both options and timing. Alice feels that unless the next scan is absolutely unchanged (not a likely scenario) we will stop drug and schedule either a core or surgical biopsy. Although she would prefer that I get as much time out of this therapy as possible, there is nothing to be gained from waiting too long.
Tuesday night I experienced some serious diarrhea (personal defintion: seven or more episodes). Mindful of the potential impact on sodium levels, I pushed the gatorade. On Wednesday I felt rather punky, and by Thursday morning there was blood in my urine and a lot of discomfort: clearly a urinary tract infection. I paid a visit to my general practitioner and started on antibiotics. By the afternoon I was nauseous and running a fever just shy of 101.5. Fortunately by the following morning I was fever free, but it is obvious that my immune system is working overtime.
The photo at the top of the page was taken during ebb tide, on an early morning two Septembers ago. Minutes earlier, Sadie and I had watched the sun rise. Crouching close to the wet sand, it was as if I could feel the hum and throb of life itself.
Seven years ago this month, I had just concluded chemotherapy when Sadie and I had our first photo shoot. Bald, skinny and with the lobectomy scar a fresh pink slash across my back, I was battle scarred. I’d asked Sadie to take pictures because I wanted a record of what I had just been through, but I got more more from that one day than I could have imagined. The photos showed a strength I’d not known I had. And Sadie, a casual acquaintance before, would become one of my closest friends.
Last week I asked Sadie for another favor and in two days, I will bring the costumes and she her camera. The timing is just a coincidence, but I like the implicit sense of anniversary: something about September. The ebb, the flow.