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Tough Decisions

November 7, 2012

So here is the latest insight into our little world:

I am not tolerating treatment. My lab work all looks okay but my body is running on empty and I am fairly certain I have reached the end of my ability to “man up.” I am vomiting almost daily, I have a consistent fever, I am out of breath walking a flight of stairs. I can’t wrestle my kiddo into a clean diaper without getting winded. I have been living on Halloween candy, Starbucks and Diet Coke. Everything else mostly comes back up. I have a negative energy level and the drugs they are giving me to treat my symptoms are helping my brain work better but not so much my body. I am looking for a stronger word to replace exhaustion in our vernacular but so far, I am failing.

I am spending the second day this week in bed because I don’t have the strength to vomit and have chills at work this afternoon. I am weak. I am no longer holding my ground but I am slipping backwards. I am losing myself at work and at home. If it weren’t for a very generous housekeeper, we would be walking around in weeks of dirty sheets and dishes. She is a GODSEND!

This week is more the rule than the exception. We have to face some tough decisions. Here are our choices:
1. Keep up the fight continue on as best I can at the current medication dose and have the best chance of staying disease free. Wait until my lab work catches up with the rest of me and then decrease my dose or stop altogether. The reality is that I will have to take an extended leave from a job that I love and our family finances will bear the brunt. I love my job and I love my work–it is a part of who I am. Even if I stop everything but taking medicine, there is a strong possibility that I will have to stop the medicine anyway.

2. Take a little drug holiday and then start back at a reduced dose. This would improve the way I feel and make life way more tolerable but will have questionable consequences with the melanoma. There is one published study that shows low dose Interferon to be as effective as my current high dose regimen, there are two published studies that show a reduced dose has a statistically significant melanoma recurrence rate.

3. Stop altogether because I am just done. Okay, we all know that this is an option but not exactly a viable one.

4. Postpone making any decision for another week and see how things go. Again.

This is the decision that we are faced with this week. It makes me angry. It makes me depressed. It makes me sad to think that I can’t muster up the strength to tough this out. I feel like I am failing when I even consider reducing the drug because why? I feel bad? How selfish is that?

Will I be able to live with my self if this comes back because I wasn’t able to tough out the medicine? What do I tell my babies or my husband or my family if I wimp out on treatment and find a nodule in my chest or my brain or some equally lethal and inoperable spotin six months or a year or three years? I don’t know if I can cope with that. It feels selfish and weak. And weak. And weak. And I hate the idea of weakness.

The fact of the matter is I cannot keep going like I have been. I. Just. Can’t. Something has got to give, but I don’t know how to make the decision of my life now or my life later. That may, in fact, not even be the choice that I am making this week, but it very likely is.

Times is hard, times is hard, folks!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Hope permalink
    November 7, 2012 11:00 pm

    I can’t pretend to know what you’re going through or facing, but it sort of puts things in perspective for some of us. Praying for you and I know you will choose correctly. Chris will support whatever you do and your health and well-being are a bit more important than some job!!

    • November 7, 2012 11:06 pm

      Oh, Hope. Some job is right. It feels silly even putting it in writing. I worked hard to get where I am but if I need to step away, I will.

  2. Brenda Haynes permalink
    November 8, 2012 2:48 am

    I’m with Hope. I can’t imagine the battle you are fighting every single day. It has to be hard to not get a break ever from the battle. As mamas, we put so much on ourselves and thats not even counting your cancer battle. Give yourself a break! I don’t mean from the cancer treatment unless you want too. I mean give yourself a break and quit beating yourself up. As mamas we choose to fight so many battles and worry about such silly stuff. Enjoy the clean sheets! I’m sure your housekeeper doesn’t mind changing them numerous times a day if needed. It’s easy for me to say just take it one day at a time — but try! Remember, whatever you try, a break in meds, a decrease in dose, whatever…. it will be the right thing at the right time. I’m so, so sorry you feel like crap and are so sick. In case I’ve never told you… I so enjoyed working with you. Thinking about you drinking your carrot juice because you were sleepy working midnights — still brings a smile to my face. I love you! Give yourself a break on fighting the battle tonight! You can pick up that armor tomorrow.

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