June 24. 2013 – June 28. 2013
This cycle was pretty intense. I was going to see my Doctor on the last day of the cycle and he was going to tell me if I would be needing Cycle 4. Deep down inside, I knew I would need it. As mentioned in the literature, 3 cycles of BEP are equivalent to 4 cycles of EP; he even said it to me during my last visit. And since MSK are pretty aggressive with their treatment (that’s one of the reasons why they’re one of the best), then I was pretty sure this was NOT my last cycle. STILL, I had this tiny hope that my Doctor might tell me that Cycle 4 is not needed. The sessions felt like they were taking forever. I was waiting impatiently for that day, and it just seemed too far away.
It is getting more and more difficult with each chemo session not only mentally but also physically. For instance, it was getting more difficult to find a good vein for the needle insertion. The needle insertion and the chemotherapy drugs infusion are strenuous to the vein and as such, this task becomes more challenging. I had the choice to keep the needle in my vein for 5 days, that way they don’t have to look for a new vein every day. But I just couldn’t. I just wanted to go home knowing that I was done that day, apart from the fact having the needle in for 5 days can be pretty uncomfortable and unpleasant. That’s the most annoying part of the session, getting in your vein. With more sessions passing, I am left with little veins that are good for use. This was making me nervous and anxious. Everyday, I would hope to have a nurse who was skillful enough with this task. Having someone poking you few times until it is inserted right is not so fun.
Believe it or not, during Cycle 3, I was still learning new things about the treatment. Everyday, you get assigned a nurse, so it rarely happens that you get the same nurse throughout your 5-day sessions. Therefore, you learn something new every time from different nurses. Sometimes I ask the same question to different nurses and I just get different/new information. What I learnt today is that it takes 7 – 10 days from Day 1 for the White Blood Cells Count (WBC) to drop to its lowest level. Hence it is THE time to avoid crowded places, sick people, and be extra cautious (wear gloves, wear a mask, keep your hand sanitizer with you). After that, it is expected to start going back up. So my advice is always ask your questions everyday, even if it is the SAME question.
During this cycle, I experienced the usual side effects, only I had continuous tightness in the chest from Day 1 and I started getting acid reflux right after I was done with the 5-day sessions. Continuous tightness in the chest: it was something really worrying me. Is it related to my low diffusion capacity rate? Will it get better after I am done with chemo? I was experiencing it everyday. I told the nurses about it, so they lowered the rate of IV infusion, which meant longer sessions. The Doctor knew about it, and since he still wanted me to continue with my sessions, this meant he was not worried. But I WAS! Well, I waited till the last day to see him and ask him about it. Funny, he said he does not believe the tightness in the chest is caused by any of the chemo drugs. He believes it may be anxiety related. ANXIETY? WHAT? ME? I’m not anxious! And yes, I needed Cycle 4. That’s the second time I burst into tears. I turn to my mom and sister, needless to say, they were crying as well. That day could have been one of the best days in my life. Why couldn’t he just tell me I was done ?!?! Why couldn’t he just tell me, “You’re done”; why? It’s not that hard. The words “I’m done,” were echoing in my head all week long. Why couldn’t I just say them to myself !? But then again, if I had the choice to choose between doing cycle 4 or not, I know deep down inside that I would have done it. He does believe that it is better and safer to do it, basically he said “better be safe than sorry”, and he is right. But there’s always that little tiny hope.
I went back home that day and I just felt weaker than ever. I just did not feel psychologically ready for another cycle. I was done and fed up. I was also very pissed at the fact that tightness in the chest was caused by anxiety. I spent all day thinking of the reasons I could be anxious. My thoughts were very unclear that day because of my anger.
I woke up the next day and had a lot of thinking going on in my head. I’ve been writing this blog for quite a while now, and I have proven to everyone, including me and especially me, that I am strong enough to pass through this, and what am I doing now? All of a sudden I’m going to collapse because of ONE additional cycle that is for my OWN good? Seriously? Nope, that’s not who I want to be, and that’s not even who I am. I started thinking of all the reasons why I could be anxious and sorted them in my head. I realized that I have proved my own theory, your positive attitude does have a major role in your treatment. Had I not been anxious, I would not have experienced any tightness in the chest. I was anxious for several reasons, I was worried about whether I would need Cycle 4 or not, I was worried about going through the hassle of IV every single day, and I just wanted to be done with all my sessions. I wanted to have enough time in New York before I go back home (I mainly wanted my taste buds back so I could enjoy some real American food ;)). Sharing my worries really made them easier. When I spoke them out loud, they just seemed silly and easily manageable.