Saturday, June 16, 2012

Why Worry When You Can Panic?

Here we go again. The researching, the questioning, the attempt to make a decision.

I feel like I am back at square one. Back at the beginning.

But I feel a surprising calm. A lack of panic. This is how I know this is not square one. I've been through this already. I've already tasted success.

The Hubby once read a profound quote on a bathroom stall of a bar: "Why worry when you can panic?"

He immediately thought of me. I am a worrier. I always have been.

Right now, I have every reason to not only worry, but to panic.

What if I make the wrong decision? What if people judge me? What if I lose my hair and am ugly? What if I get so sick I can't get out of bed? What if I never get rid of the Cancer? What if I die?

But I am calm. I've already worried about all of those things.

Right now, I want options.

Last week I met with my oncologist in Detroit to hear his options. I rejected his option in the past and was nervous to hear what he had to say.

Yes, I worried.

What if he hates me for seeing someone else? What if he refuses to treat me? What if he judges me and yells at me?

After going over my scans (which is much better off than my original scan from November - no major tumor, just infected lymph nodes), he gave me two options:

1) Radiation only. The cancer hasn't spread and is in the identical spot so there is a small chance (10%) that radiation alone will cure me. It's unlikely, but if it works, I will have "hit the jackpot" (his words, not mine). I would receive radiation every day for 2-3 weeks and hope for the best.

2) High Dose Chemotherapy followed by a Bone Marrow Transplant. This process involves using regular chemo to put me in remission, take out healthy bone marrow, freeze it and then give my chemo at such high doses that it kills EVERYTHING. It does so much destruction that my body can't recover on it's own. After this process, they put back my healthy marrow and hope it regrows in my body, creating a "healthy" environment. This is about a 5 month process requiring a 1-2 month stay in the hospital. This has a 60% chance of working.

These options are not ideal. The best case he is giving me leaves me with a 60% cure rate.

But oddly enough, I still don't panic.

These statistics don't apply to me. These statistics are for people who did conventional chemo and it failed to work. These statistics are for people who never responded to the drugs. These statistics are for people whose cancer is so powerful not even blasting their body with drugs could get rid of it.

There are no statistics for my situation. Most don't toe the line between alternative and conventional medicine - truly open to both and just wanting to find the best cure. Most people heavily lean in one direction or the other. The passion people feel about medicine is similar to the passion felt for politics. You pick your side and stick with it. Being stubbornly liberal, I understand that sentiment.

But with medicine, I toe the line. Classic middle child syndrome, I guess. Indecisive and noncommittal.

I'm not sure which treatment path I'll choose, but I do know that I'm not thrilled with the options presented to me. 60% cure rate plus a host of terrible side effects just doesn't seem good enough.

My plan? Head to DC for a couple weeks to meet with everyone from chinese medicine doctors to oncologists at John Hopkins in hopes of finding a treatment plan I can get on board with.

And in the meantime? I'll try not to panic.


  1. I think coming to DC and checking out NIH and John Hopkins wilol give you more options. I think chemo even if it means high doses is the way to get rid of the cancer. You are strong and will win this battle. So what if you lose your hair the wigs today are so natural looking and you are beautiful and will still be beautiful.Your writing is terrific.

  2. You are calm because you know you have the tools to beat this back as many times as it takes until it is obliterated. You are overflowing with so much life and love and you shine brighter than a thousand points of light. This dark thing does not stand a chance.

    Sending you much love.