My infusion days are uplifting. Peter and Paul came by to keep me company for a while. I feel so wonderfully supported by my peeps, both those near me and those far away. Today’s infusion was fun, as most of them tend to be. This may sound weird, but I am starting to consider infusion days as “days at the spa.” I can put my feet up and relax in a comfortable recliner, for hours, and not feel guilty about it. And I let myself be pampered by the amazing nursing and volunteer staff: they are passionate about what they do, and they are wonderfully compassionate too. There is a sweet elderly volunteer lady who goes round with a cart, distributing free snacks and kindness, and she even offers to buy patients lunch from the cafeteria, out of her own pocket. She says that it’s a small thing she can do and she is happy to help us that way. Because I am fasting I can’t eat but I gratefully accept the snacks and stash them for later, like a squirrel.
Now, when I go home, saddled with my chemo pump, I’m less happy. Those 48 hours of additional chemo are a bit rough. Fatigue kicks in on Fridays, as well as nausea and feeling crappy. The anti-nausea pills help with the nausea but I still feel crappy and fatigued for several days.
But in a way, I look forward to being able to rest in my new digs. Yes, a different house! It even has a swimming pool! The past two weeks have been rough for a reason other than cancer: when I returned home from having my chemo pumped removed 2 weeks ago, the house was flooded. A small pipe had burst. There was water everywhere and it was even spilling out from under the garage door. The damage is extensive and requires to move out of the house for 3 months for repairs to be done.
But I have more positive news to share today. My latest blood test shows that my cancer marker (the CEA, or CarcinoEmbryonic Antigen) has dropped significantly. It is down to 14, from 58 two weeks ago. The normal range is considered to be between 0 and 5 (micrograms per liter). For recap, my CEA was 60 before surgery in February. It dropped down to 2 after surgery, which made everyone believe that my cancer was likely gone, since my lymph nodes were clear and the tumor that they removed had clear margins. Alas the CEA climbed back to 58 in the following 3 months, shattering any hopes of a remission.
The oncologist sees this CEA of 14 as an indication that the cancer is responding to the chemo and that the tumors in the liver may be shrinking. This would be great news, as there was only a 70% chance that my cancer would respond to chemo. So, we are all cautiously optimistic. We will learn more on August 23rd after my MRI and CT Scan. It is still highly likely that I will need surgery after the chemo treatment, to remove residual tumors from the liver. He is actually thinking of extending the chemo treatment from 8 infusions to 12. That’s what surgeons prefer, he says.
So, I may be in for more days of nausea and feeling crappy and tired than I initially thought. But also more days at the spa!