For those readers still following me after reading last week's column: "Airing of a Grievance," when I moaned and groaned about my anxiety and fear concerning the impact of my possibly having to delay the first of my three holiday-season infusions due to unacceptable lab results, let me real-time you: chemotherapy went ahead Friday, Nov. 16, as regularly scheduled.
Now, there will be no need to drive back from Pennsylvania to Maryland on the Friday after Thanksgiving – after arriving there the preceding afternoon, only to have to drive back to Pennsylvania Friday after my morning infusion, in order to resume our holiday weekend; and then drive back home again on Sunday during one of the busiest driving weekends of the year.
Given that there's no delay, this means I'll be sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately, the eating side effects typical of my treatment will have not subsided as yet, so enjoying my favorite meal of the year will be impaired. Still, given the alternatives discussed, no delay in treatment is an altogether better outcome. I will be able to enjoy leftover turkey sandwiches on Friday, though.
And so, perhaps you can imagine the relief I felt when I called the Infusion Center on Friday morning, Nov. 16, to confirm my appointment.
It has happened previously when I've made this pre-appointment confirmation call, that I've been told not to come and to reschedule. Moreover, it has also happened – once, that after making this call, receiving approval to come in, driving 45 minutes, checking in at reception and then getting hooked up to an IV, that I was told after further review by my oncologist, that I had to go home.
Disappointing, as you can imagine, but had it happened last week, the Friday before Thanksgiving, as has been well-blathered about in two columns, it would have been particularly discouraging and extremely disheartening.
It really wasn't until 10:30 a.m., after my oncology nurse set up my IV and ordered my drug (Alimta) that I had the nerve to ask if I was 100 percent getting my drugs today. Enthusiastically, Nora said: "Oh. You're getting your drugs today. I've checked everything."
After hearing her response, my eyes welled up with tears and I heaved a sigh of relief, the likes of which I've never heaved before.
In addition to writing about this scheduling 'heave,' I've been worried for a few months now, based on the finding of my most recent CT scan during my last post-scan appointment with my oncologist on Oct. 5. This scan confirmed an enlarged tumor under my Adam's Apple.
This every-three-week infusion schedule was implemented specifically to determine if this new growth was old growth recently impeded or new growth indicating my treatment has stopped working. If my treatment has stopped working, and I believe I have written about it previously, I might not be living the life going forward that I want to.
And so, when Nora confirmed my infusion mid-morning on Friday, the pent-up emotion, the worry, the fear, the holiday hassle all faded away and I began to breathe more normally and easily as I had in six weeks or so anticipating this day. At least the first hurdle has been passed.
My next scheduled infusion is Dec. 7. Three weeks later is another infusion on Dec. 28. Followed up by a CT scan on Jan. 2, 2019. I would love to receive both infusions before that next scan to maximize the medicine I will be receiving.
Certainly there will be anxiety and fear worrying about those results, but absent the holiday season, I think I can manage it. More of a mindset than a miracle at that point.