I used to love roller coasters. Especially Colossus at Magic Mountain. How fun it was to go up, up, up, knowing that the first drop, the best one, was coming. What a thrill it was to tear down the track with my hair whipping behind me and my stomach in my throat. Just when it was almost too much, up we went again and the cycle started over.
Fast forward thirty-some years. I am still on this roller coaster, but this time it is not Colossus. It is cancer.
It is still thrilling to go up, up, up, even knowing that a drop will come again. However, now there is no hair whipping in the wind, and every bump on the track hurts. I remember my dad (who took me to Magic Mountain many times) saying that the bumpy tracks hurt his back, but he kept going with me because the benefit outweighed the pain. I keep riding for the same reason.
Just like on Colossus, with cancer the first dip was the biggest. The shock of diagnosis, the understanding of how bad things were, plunging in to treatment. Since then, the rest have been smaller rises and falls, with a few surprises in between.
After a year of mostly up, I am once again flying down the track. But don't worry, I am not falling too far. I feel the safety harness around me and know that I will soon hear the click-click-click of the track pulling me back up for another go.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have had a couple of hospital stays and some brain radiation over the summer. A recent PET scan showed significant activity in my bones, particularly in my right hip area, spine and sacrum. That's the bad news. The good news is that the major soft tissue organs, lungs and liver are still clear. I have often repeated the wisdom of my first oncologist Dr. John Glaspy of UCLA, "The bones won't kill you." This gives me great hope.
Nevertheless, we want to keep the tumor load under control and we especially don't want the weight bearing upper femur to crack, so that is the first thing we are attacking. Today I have the 6th of 10 fractions of radiation to my right upper leg. The super good news about this is that I get to have these treatments right here in the Antelope Valley at the City of Hope and do not have to drive to Beverly Hills 10 days in a row! The other good news about this is that I am on break from most of my chemos while on radiation, so I am feeling pretty good, although, of course, tired from the radiation.
When this course is over, we will not be going back to Taxol. It worked for a long time, but with this activity we can assume that the cancer has outsmarted it. I will start Carboplatin and Gemzar with hopes this will buy me more time going up, up, up. By the time the inevitable dip comes, surely there will be something else to try.
In order to qualify as a thrill ride, it has to be the right combination of scary and exhilarating. I'd say I'm still riding Colossus, but perhaps now on the new "twisted" track. Hopefully it will be a little less bumpy now. Wheeeee!!!