Feb 09, 2010 - 10:25 am
Just before Thanksgiving I had my cancer come back after just a 5-month remission, and went immediately back into weekly chemo. Now, after 10 rounds of a mild single-agent chemo that is meant more to 'hold me in check' than anything, I think it is again decision time. My chemo-oncologist doesn't believe a cure is an option any more, and when pressed, did admit that he sees me taking chemo the rest of my shortened life, with the slim possibility of some very sort remissions/breaks (2, 3 months max breaks). His strategy is to give me the mildest chemo that stops/slows the progrssion of the disease, balancing treatment decisions with quality of life factors. My current 'easy chemo' only makes me tired and bald, but I am not nauseated or in pain and have no neuropathy and only very minimal lymphodema (chubby ankles). I am still working 30 hours a week and going out to movies and restaurants, even with chemo every Monday and Neupogen shots every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
So why am I questioning this treatment regime? Because I want to believe that if I went 'balls-to-the-wall' again with a full-out harsher chemo cocktail, I just MIGHT be able to shoot myelf into some kind of prolonged remission. I don't mean YEARS LONG remission; I'm not that greedy; but 6 to 12 months of NORMALCY. I know that's what my husband wants. It's not fair to him to have this diminished version of myself for years, and never even try to be ME again. He gets steadily more depressed.
I am getting a PET/CT scan Monday and will have a clearer picture of what is going on with me. That will trigger appointments with the rest of my oncology team and the chance to get other opinions on this. Maybe my dream of a 6-12 month remission isn't even a possibility, and I intend to ask then that. And maybe my body is too beaten down by the very aggressive surgery/chemo/radiation I did initially in my all-out "go-for-a-cure" treatment protocol in 2008/2009, to survive another all-out try. But maybe someone will support my idea of a more aggressive treatment for me now.
Long post. Sorry. Has anyone else wrestled with this? I think I'd rather die trying to achieve a decent-length remission, than take chemo until the cancer finally takes me. I just don't think surviving as an always-sick person is fair to my husband. He's only 57 and young enough to start over, so is it fair for me to limp along another 3 or 4 (10!) years as an increasing burden to him as caregiver, and leave him in his 60's or 70's, poorer and older? Or do I roll the dice, fight my oncologists for the experimental harsher chemos, and try and get some 'quality time' before I die?
(In reference, I have a very rare aggressive recurrent cancer that little is known about and very few drugs FDA approved to try. Statistically, after initial recurrance, you have an average life expectancy of 15 months, and I've already burned up 3 of those! I plan to beat those stats, whatever I decide to do next. The stats are based on tiny samplings because the cancer is so rare.)