Decision time

Posted March 5th, 2009 by Jane

Since I started on vinorelbine in late December I have been telling people that some of my tumours feel a bit softer. Certainly my heavily swollen and discoloured arm, a barometer of tumour spread has been so much better (as objectively measured in wearing a size 6 beige sleeve rather than struggling into a size 7.) And my oncologist has made nice low key murmerings too about being ‘less swollen’ and’ onto the next one. (ie the next chemotherapy cycle) It’s nice to tell people ‘good’ news even if I am sometimes cynical about the degree of understanding about its relativity. But yes I’m pleased to be reaching my 60th milestone shortly, pleased in the scheme of things that my (sorry…I am going through a phase of thinking I shouldn’t really use personal pronowns to describe cancer) cancer is an ‘indolent’ killer rather than than an aggressive one.

Except now 4 cycles in and I have a nasty feeling that the tumours aren’t softening any more..that the 4cm lump in my ‘other’ armpit, having definitely shrunk, might be getting bigger again. My arm and hand are still less swollen than they were, but not as good as they have been. My oncologist says I usually have a pretty good idea of what’s happening and so when I see her on Monday it will be about deciding whether to have a scan now for the objective test, or delay (cause a part of me really doesn’t want to know…but then what’s the point of doing more vinorelbine if its done all it can?) for a couple more cycles.

And then after that…the big issues. Back to the Marsden for a chat with my most favourite oncologist (the most remarkable communciator I’ve ever met among cancerworld professionals)…cause I know I must. But I also know there actually ain’t likely to be more worthwhile options and I’ll be in the odd position of still being relatively well, relatively limited spread…’only’ regional (unless the scan confirms what I think has been on the cards for a while..that its in my lungs…and I have indigestion too and worry even more about my liver) but actually no more sensible options.

I have written before about the necessity of reframing hope, so its not just about chasing treatment…easier to say on a buzzy steroid day than on a tired, depleted and bloody fed up day.