Oncologist #2: Chemotherapy

As for the chemo piece, I will be taking 5-FU* for the same five and a half weeks. The good news here is that I can take it in pill form, which is just as effective as the IV version, meaning I can hold off on getting the port/central line installed (presumably in my chest--creepy) until my post-surgery chemo. Side effects of this are somewhat similar to the radiation (fatigue, nausea) but also includes chapped hands and feet. Like I don't already get plenty of that this time of year.

*As an interesting aside, this drug was synthesized in the building directly behind the one I work/worked in at UW. Not so interesting was that 5-FU was developed 50 years ago. Really? We haven't come up with anything better since a time when "wireless" referred to a radio?

Of course, the chemo means that I will have to stop breastfeeding. After getting [what I think we will all agree was] a much-needed breast reduction in 1996, I have spent the last decade wondering whether or not I would be able to nurse any future babies.

I always knew that the reduction was the right choice for me, even if it meant sacrificing any possibility breastfeeding, but seeing those those first drops of expressed colostrum was amazing, and I was unspeakably relieved that I could still nourish my wee one despite having gone under the knife.

I feel incredibly lucky that I have been able to feed Little Miss almost exclusively over these last five months, but I'm not ready for it to be over. I can't help but feel like it's being snatched away from me prematurely, especially with my infertile future coming at me like a sledgehammer to the face.

But I digress. After the chemo-radiation, I will get a month break to rest up (and let the tumor continue to shrink down a bit) prior to my surgery, where they will scoop out my south pole and [hopefully] refashion me a poop shoot, after which I'll get to live with an ileostomy for several months while the whole business heals up.

The sum total of the next 6+ months is all so alien and invasive and permanent and horrible and oh GOD, when did this become my life?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm here from Moxie and only got this far in reading through your archives before I had to post. My best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer when her first was 11 months. She was still nursing... had just started trying to conceive #2. Had no risk factors... it was out of the blue. Damn, your story brings it all back. I remember her calling me after the diagnosis... when I answered the phone all she said was "Fuck."

I have no words... except that I have to go for a colposcopy for my second abnormal pap with HPV... cervical cancer anyone?... and I have a 7 month old nursling(#3).

Off to keep reading...