I had a setback today. In my eyes, anyway. I went in for chemo #5 of 6 today only to be told I cannot receive treatment as my white blood cell count is too low. Full disclosure: this is very common. Patients receiving chemotherapy often deal with neutropenia, or low white blood cell count. And my Doctor even told me that at least 8 out of 10 patients at some point have to delay a treatment because of this. He said to look at it as gaining a few more side effect-free days and that we would see where I’m at on Wednesday. He’s so positive.
All that being said, I still feel very down about it. When he told me I couldn’t get my treatment today it took me so off guard. I almost thought I had misunderstood him. I even asked “what can I do to get it today?” I couldn’t understand how this is happening. Last week my white blood cell (WBC) count was up to 3.9, only .1 away from normal range. It didn’t even occur to me that this could happen. But, for whatever reason, my WBC count was down to 2.4 today. Of course I’ve now been running through my mind all of the “what ifs” and “what caused this” scenarios even though I know its nothing I’ve done. That almost makes it worse. Its just one more thing about my body that is completely out of my hands. I just have to take what it gives me and sit back and wait when its not what I want. Do you know how hard that is for me? My husband and my mom both have me pegged. They know I’m a very goal-oriented person and when I have a plan, that’s the plan. There’s no straying from the plan. And when things don’t go according to my plan….meltdown ensues. Sometimes this is a very good quality about me. To say it best, shit gets done. But, being a Stage IV cancer patient who is going to be receiving treatment for the rest of my life based on how my body is reacting, its not a great quality. Does this mean I have to live my life in chaos forever? That I have to live by the old saying that we make plans and God laughs? Because I’m not convinced that that won’t kill me faster than this despicable cancer. I might have to be medicated for insanity.
Speaking of medication, my Doctor also wants to start me on another drug. Its a drug that people with osteoporosis take. Don’t even get me started on the age range of people you might think of who suffer from osteoporosis. Why does my mind go there? Anyway, he wants to put me on this drug because of the cancer found on my spine, i.e. bones. It’s supposed to treat soft, brittle bones and help with bone growth. OK, great. But then I started reading the potential side effects. The first one is that it raises the chance for a broken leg. That’s scary. Another one is that it can cause very low blood calcium levels which can be deadly. Um, I’m trying to live right now. I have no urge to suddenly jump out of a plane or swim with sharks because my life has now already been threatened with cancer. No! I’m actually trying to avoid anything potentially harmful or dangerous to prolong my life! So why would I take this?! But, on the other hand, if I don’t take it I could be at higher risk for my cancer-afflicted bones to break. Feels like a lose/lose. This whole cancer diagnosis feels like a lose/lose.
So, that’s where I’m at. And I think this seemingly small setback of a delayed treatment just smacked my face into a wall that’s covered with graffiti of what my cancer diagnosis means as it relates to the rest of my life and the quality of my life. That its no longer assumed that I’ll live to be a Great-Grandmother, that I will be on infusions and/or medications for the rest of my life, and that I will forever be dealing with side-effects of some sort from said medications. And I already knew all of this. Its not new information. But I had somehow managed to push it to the back of my mind and proceed as normal. Well, as my new normal. So now I have to look forward and decide if this is a road block or a speed bump. All of my loved ones say its just a speed bump. I’m looking at it as a road block. But I’m also envisioning myself tearing down and stomping on all that road block shit in a fit of rage. I hope that’s progress.
P.S. Sorry for all of the analogies. I know its super cheesy.
P.P.S. Sorry for some language. But trust me, its minimal compared to what I’m saying in my head.