In typical Meghan Malley fashion, these last few weeks (let's be honest, more like months) have been pretty hectic and jam packed with commitments. I finally sat down last Monday night in the quiet of our bedroom and spent an hour gathering my thoughts and reflecting on what life has been like since starting this new treatment. I was all ready to hit "publish" to share that post with you all when the app on my ipad shut down and the entire post was erased! I could have cried out of sheer exhaustion. I had been running on empty and it took my last bit of energy to dig into my feelings to write a meaningful post and in the blink of an eye it was gone. 'Tis the season for added stress and chaos, right?!
The past week has flown by as we celebrated Christmas with family, friends and co-workers. I knew there wouldn't be any time to re-write my post, nor did I want to expend the energy to do so. So, I am going to skip all the details and give you the ole' Cliffs Notes version. ;)
1. I am on my second round of the new treatment which has been 3 weeks on the meds, 1 week off
2. The side effects have been pretty minimal and definitely tolerable : headaches, occasional upset stomach, shortness of breath, and most notably, fatigue
3. The two shots I have to get in the tush every two weeks hurt! And cause me to feel super sore in my glutes. I try to just trick myself into thinking I put in a killer workout ;)
4. I continue to have the shot of Zoladex in my abdomen every month, the shot of Xgeva to keep my bones strong, and bloodwork every two weeks to make sure my counts are high enough to continue to receive the treatment
That brings me to a recent development....my blood counts dropped as expected after the first 3 weeks of treatment but rebounded during the one week off. I was hoping for the same this round but I just found out that things are not working out quite as expected. I went in to Karmanos before work this morning for a quick blood draw, vitals check and to see my nurse for the bloodwork results. She came and sat down next to me and said, "Your white blood cells are critcally low." She continued to say that she called my oncologist and he instructed her to have me stop treatment immediately. Needless to say, I am pretty disappointed. Of course I have been feeling tired and run down but who hasn't this time of year?! I never expected that my counts would be so low that I had to stop and miss the last week of only the second month of treatment. He wants me to stay off treatment until he sees me on January 12th. That is my next scheduled appointment with him as well as the day I will have another blood draw to check counts, 2 shots in my bottom, 1 shot on the left side of my stomach and 1 shot on the right side. I swear, I feel like a human pin cushion sometimes.
To complicate matters a bit more, the very next day after that appointment where I will be repeatedly poked, proded and stabbed, I am scheduled to have surgery. I will spare you the difficult and emotional details of a rough appointment I had with the gynecological oncologist. Bottom line is that I will be having a "oophorosalpingectomy" on January 13th which basically means I will have my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. My ovaries have been medically shut down for years but now that treatment has changed, it's as good a time as any to have the surgery just to be sure we get rid of any way my body may allow extra estrogen to be floating around feeding this cancerous beast.
Dr. F had already instructed me to wait an extra week before starting my third round of treatment because he didn't want me on treatment while I went in for surgery. The major risks of surgery are bleeding and infection. The major side effects with my treatment are lowered white and red blood cell counts, lowered platelets and hemoglobin....all put me at risk for increased bleeding and infection. Herein lies the problem. So, now that I have to stop treatment, I will be off for at least 3 weeks - if I am even allowed to resume after surgery. I am hoping Dr. F is just being extra cautious before surgery but I can't help but feel nervous.
Nervous that my cancer may grow during this time off my meds.
Nervous that although I may feel physically well enough to tolerate this treatment, my body may dictate otherwise.
Nervous that my dose may need to be lowered which could be less effective for me.
Nervous to hear that I may have blown through another treatment option.
And ultimately it makes me nervous for the day that I may end up hearing that my body just won't tolerate anything else and I have to stop treatment all together.
I know (at least I hope!) that I am truly far away from that day, but my mind can't help but go there nonetheless. I have had far too many friends here those words and we all know the writing on the wall.
As we enter a time of a new year, anticipated goals and hope for the future...I am feeling a bit scared and fearful of the unknown that lies ahead. Although I am pretty used to dealing with the uncertainty of living with chronic cancer, it doesn't take away those emotions when something unexpected arises.
In the meantime, I plan on enjoying my wedding anniversary tomorrow with Mike. Nine years of complete wedded bliss without any hiccups or bumps along the way....right, Mike?! ;) Boy am I lucky to have him! God's greatest gift to me has undoubtedly been my incredibly supportive, strong and steadfast husband. I am grateful for each and every day I get with him and I will push through any hurdle in my path to enjoy another sunrise with Mike. 9 years married and 18 together! How lucky am I?!
Thursday we leave for a roadtrip to Asheville, North Carolina where we will spend 5 days of fun with some of our greatest friends, the Johnson's, who will be driving up from Florida with their two little boys. I am so excited for tons of laughs, snuggles with the boys, hiking in the mountains, and ringing in the New Year with amazing friends. Mike has come down with a cold and with my extremely low counts, I am worried about getting sick. So if you can sneak a prayer in there for me that I don't catch whatever he has, that would be great! If you are in Asheville this weekend, look for the girl with red hair and a hospital mask over her face. waaah!
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! Thank you for the beautiful holiday cards that you have sent to let us know you are thinking of us. I was too lazy this year so here is my digital card for you all....
The dogs may have hated every minute of this but I loved it and can't help but laugh at these cuties. They bring me so much happiness!
I will write a quick update after my appointment on January 12th to confirm if surgery is planned as expected. If my counts don't come up, we will likely have to postpone.
Have a wonderful New Year celebration! 'Tis the season for champagne, confetti and midnight kisses...so enjoy! Keep us in your thoughts and prayers for elevated counts, a safe drive, and a fun (illness free!) mountain adventure with our friends.
A few snapshots of my favorite moments over the last few weeks...including cuddling our nephew, pups enjoying the snow, our beautiful and festive piano and time with some of my favorite girls! 💗
My blog to keep you all