Are we reaching an inflection point in my treatment? My body is not tolerating chemo well.
I’m not talking about the side effects, which are their own Adventureland ride.
No, my body’s blood components are recoiling at the pounding they are taking from the chemo drugs. White and red blood cells are normal chemotherapy victims; we are, after all, killing both the bad and the good with this sledgehammer of a treatment. But some of mine are being knocked to the canvas.
First it was neutrophils, the important white blood cells that chomp up infections like PacMan. They got so low one week—making me vulnerable to infection—that we had to skip a treatment. I was heartened this weekend to see that my neutrophils had bounced back to a low-normal level. Clap-clap!
But today at the infusion clinic, Nurse Shoshana offers a surprise: My platelets, which clot the blood and help prevent us from over-bleeding (and which are actually shaped like plates), have dived headlong off a cliff. Per The Oncologist, we reduced the potency of the drugs today to 75 percent to try to keep the platelet count from going much lower.
All of this matters because…if I can’t safely tolerate chemo, we may need to more quickly to surgery.
I dread the thought of surgery even though I know it’s inevitable and ultimately what will cure me. It’s a long, complicated procedure that will knock me on my back for weeks. Frankly, it scares me. If anything, I’d wanted to postpone it until after the holidays.
But this also raises the question in my mind of how I will be able to do post-surgery chemo—a standard part of the treatment—if I can’t tolerate pre-surgery chemo.
Again, this is not going according to plan. The chemo is waging a violent war against my good cells, all while we try to wage another war against the cancer.
Patience is my ally. But as I move through these flaming doors, chemo may now be a new demon.