So there we were, in Oncology, wishing for Star Trek technology
"We're going to take a big bat and hit it as hard as we can" - Dr. Rosenberg
It's so easy - "Bones" (or that nice Beverly Crusher) waves a bleeping thing over your body to diagnose you, then they put you into a machine that passes a beam of light down your body, and you're Fixed Up Real Quick. You lie on those odd beds in the medical bay, and you're back on the bridge in no time. Unless you're Security, of course. Security guys never have minor injuries, they just get vaporised.
Thank The Deity that Christine isn't Security #3, then.
On the other hand, chemotherapy sucks. We'd thought that mastectomy was a dreadful way of treating breast cancer "Can't they do better than this, lopping bits off, in the 21st Century?", but chemo is worse by far. The basic theory is this: cancer cells are basically dividing out of control, and need to be knocked out. Also in the firing line are any other quickly-dividing cells - your skin (inside and out!) and hair follicles among other things. So you're sore, bald and with no lining to yer intestines. That's chemo for you - no wonder Christine's oncologist said that he'd take a "big bat" to it...
Cytoxan ("CyTOXIN - could they have thought of a worse name?") and Adriamycin are first up - both to be administered intravenously, both drugs "disrupt and destroy cancer cells", both have a similar list of side effects, both short-term and long-term. There are the usual suspects: decreased white blood cell count with increased risk of infection, hair loss, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, sores in mouth...
Then the Adriamycin, which is so bloody toxic that they have a cupboard in the treatment room marked "Chemo Spill Kits", and the nurses wear protective gear to handle and inject the stuff. Basically, if you get this stuff on your skin, it causes necrosis. That is so clearly Not A Good Thing, and yet they are putting this stuff in her bloodstream to make her better.
Finally, there's a drug she's taking at home, Dexamethasone. This increases the effectiveness of the other chemo drugs, and again the list of side-effects is fairly scary, this time including an immuno-suppresive capability. Yes, part of the treatment is to hit your immune system to a degree, so the very thing that normally protects your body against infections is hobbled. That's a hard thing to grok - that to treat cancer, they have to employ methods that are so medieval and harsh that they come within a whisker of killing you.
My advice - do what you can to avoid getting cancer, do it NOW.
So, How Are You?
Very Well, Thank You. Seriously, we are. Notwithstanding that Chris is by turns fatigued and nauseous (and occasionally tearful), and that I'm stressed (and occasionally tearful) from being away from home and my usual support matrix, we're doing well. Tess is doing what she can to help, we're all a little tired and strung out, but you know something? We are all going to survive this.
We're still hoping that a few of you will knit, make, send some silly soft hats for those bald days we know are coming in a week or so, and although Christine isn't up to long phone calls that often, we both love to hear from you.
This particular chemo regimen will last for eight weeks (four fortnightly sessions), followed by another eight weeks of different drugs, follwed by some radiation therapy. In the meantime, all we need to do is get married, get my application for immigration change of status started, get a work permit and permission to re-enter the US so I can go back to UK and sort out my affairs there.
After that, we'll all deserve a break, and hopefully, we'll get one in August, damnit, Jim.
In Other News, Mythological Creatures Spotted in California!
I spent much of yesterday in the delightful Capay Valley, alternating between a friend's farm and the home of other friends. Did you know that hummingbirds actually, really, do exist? And that they are tiny, pretty and wonderful, and that they really do hum? And can fly backwards? And they do get most of their energy from sipping nectar?
Christine is so lucky to have the friends she has, both in real life, and online. Thank you all.
(R) breast and (R) axilla - Caught in the medical machine - Going Amazonian - When the Breast Fairy Comes - So there we were, in Oncology, wishing for Star Trek technology - Weddings, and other Sundrie Diversions - Support the Amazons: A Dual-Function Ninjagirls Bakesale for Boobies - Seven Down, One to Go - 1950s technology meets 21st-century woman. - Getting better, but cancer SUCKS - An Open Letter to Macy's regarding Tits