I realize, given last week’s column: “Post-Chemo Week,” this week’s column about the preceding week (week-of, actually) of chemotherapy might be a bit bass-ackward, but it seemed reasonable to me that if you regular readers had an interest in the week-after, perhaps you’d have a similar interest in the week-before.
Generally speaking, other then the anticipation that comes with knowing that your next infusion is a few days away — along with the subsequent eating/taste/after taste issues discussed in last week’s column, which are also a few days away, the preceding week is easy. Most of the issues I described last week: eating/tasting, lack of sleep, depression, irritability have subsided. In fact. other than the underlying issue/diagnosis, I almost feel normal, two weeks out of every three I do, anyway.
What makes the week different however, is the pre-chemotherapy lab work that I need to complete. No hardship, really. The lab is 10 minutes from my house, the wait when I arrive is usually minimal and the staff is certainly familiar after nearly six years and are always pleasant and professional. Typically, I go to the lab on Wednesday mornings, more than enough time for the results to be emailed to my oncologist to evaluate before my Friday-morning infusion. As simple and straightforward as the process is, if certain levels in my lab work are too high or too low, depending, my infusion could be cancelled. Accordingly, until I receive those results electronically (Wednesday p.m./Thursday a.m.), I am anxious and ill at ease. Skipping an infusion for such reasons has a disproportionate effect on me. Delaying a scheduled infusion by one week may or may not matter in the long run (short and/or middle, too), but to me, it feels catastrophic, especially emotionally.
I don’t want to miss any scheduled treatments because my lab work has indicated a potential adverse consequence. I want to remain 100-percent on track so the cancer doesn’t get any ideas that it’s safe to come out and harm. For all I know about such medical realities, the week off may actually give my body some much needed rest. Or it may not. Who knows, really? And my oncologist can’t say for sure either. Still, I’d rather not stop — or have to stop.
Stopping the infusions has been suggested previously. Over the course of the previous 67 months of treatment, situations have presented themselves that have caused Team Lourie to consider stopping/taking a break from treatment. I have always opted to continue. And so long as my body continues to tolerate the treatment — as indicated by my every-three-week lab work (and any associated symptoms), life, as I’ve come to know and appreciate it, can go on. However, if my lab work — and the inevitable retest — indicates otherwise, I may be in trouble. This week preceding is when I will know first hand if this party is beginning to break up. Other than that... .
Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers