Anticipating Chemo

Friday, January 21, 2011. 6:30 am

I’m on edge this morning.

First, Dave sees Dr. L and will get his first Chemo treatment. I have been able to sit to the side of this appointment emotionally until yesterday. I know that Dave began fussing as soon as radiation was over last Friday. Perhaps before. I think it was Friday, maybe even Thursday last week that he mentioned there was new drug in his prescriptions list. (We have online access and refill for medicines and all our records. Very cool. Dave takes about a dozen medicines daily at breakfast and dinner.) It is a chemo pill. The Smart Bomb? On Monday I dropped into Dave’s home study to chat. He was looking up the drug.

I never know if online research is such a good thing. Yes, no. There was a great deal of medical-ese and Latin and chemistry. Most of it just went in one ear and back out as Dave read it aloud. I was fixated on the thought that he gets a pill, yeah!, rather than an IV. OR that this is just one of the drugs; what is the cocktail made of? Or, that if this is the smart pill then the effectiveness is probably pretty low. Then I don’t like to sound pessimistic and why can’t I shake those statistical statements? And what are the known side effects?

But there was something in plain English that struck Dave and me. I could tell by how he read it, then days later he reiterated it in one of our conversations. The drug works for about 18 months, then it is no longer useful. No good. Finished. That echoed Dr Williams’ statement to us that eventually the cancer gets the better of the treatment. But it bursts the bubble Dave has of beating this, being here for ten more years and his amazing capacity to believe and put that belief to advantage. I could feel his disappointment. I too felt deflated with him. He noted that he is now at a status of “living with cancer.”

Then this brings to mind about my writing aloud, so to speak. It works for me right now. I posted the first few entries to get this blog set up this week. I had Dave read them for tone and usefulness, and just to let me know how it looks online. He said he was humbled. Clearly there is insight into my feelings that the writing and paper receive that doesn’t get translated into communications aloud between us. Really, we exclaim our love, but writing allows me to say why and how I love him as I experience the anticipated loss. This is what he gets to hear now. I find this easiest for me. But I also sit here and share my doubts. What will that do? Bring better conversations. Yes, I know, hope and think so. It already does. But does it put the tinge of doubt into him? Then I desire to protect him from reading my blog. Yet, the choice is up to him.

Back to anticipating chemo… throughout this week, Dave has made little references to the chemo appointment. Just acknowledging Friday. I know it’s been weighing on his mind.  But the real fear came out a couple of days ago. He said, “What if I start throwing up when I get there?” I’ve thought about that, too. He’s lived it. Hodgkins experience. By the end of his protocol for Hodgkins just arriving at the treatment room was nauseating for him.  I’ve really blocked some of this experience out of my mind, because I was helpless to do anything but transport him to and from, put him to bed and wait out the long day after treatment. Chemo accumulates in the body, building up over time. Going to his last treatment was very difficult. I was so proud that he completed it all. This is the determination that keeps him alive today, and very likely past “the statistics.

We’ll go to the appointment very soon. Dave will do what he needs to do. I can only stand by. When it comes to the choice of whether to treat cancer, the alternative sucks.

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