February 2, 2022. I had my monthly check-up at UCSF a week ago. My tumor measured ever so slightly smaller. Which is good, but Dr. Rugo was hoping for better results based on the more significant size reduction I had in January. At that time I had just completed my first course of 2 weeks of Xeloda. But my side effects were severe enough that we agreed to taking meds one week on, one week off in hopes my reaction would be lessened. And they have been. I do have numbness in my fingertips, which I’m told is unusual. The other weird thing is that due to the skin peeling on my fingers, I’m losing my fingerprints. As a result, my iPad doesn’t recognize touch ID using my thumbprint anymore. I had to switch to my index finger. How freaky is that! I’m also dealing with fatigue all day every day, which I expected since that was my experience a year ago.
In an effort to have better results, my daily dosage during my week on has been increased by 500 mg. That means 3000 mg a day rather than 2500. All in all, Steve and I left the appointment feeling pretty good. However, we also knew it would still be a couple days before the tumor marker results would be known from the labs I had done that day. When it posted to my chart, the results were not so great. I was and am super bummed.
That’s one of the reasons I didn’t give an update right away. I believed in my heart that the number was going to continue its downward trend. I was taken aback when it came in higher than my November baseline. I didn’t know how to share the news. But, and it’s a hopeful but, we’re hoping that the increased dosage will show improved numbers when I go back in February. Plus I’m getting CT scans then as well which will reveal if the cancerous mass is truly shrinking, as well as the nodes in my right lung. It’s a slippery slope, to say the least.
All of this information can be overwhelming and worrisome. I have found a wonderful refuge in my daily mediation practice. It helps to keep me present, accepting the way things are in this moment. It’s made this journey much more manageable for me and reminds me to be grateful for all that I have—for the friends and family who support me with their love and good wishes, for the otherwise good health I do enjoy like seeing and hearing and tasting and smelling and walking and talking and laughing, for the wonderful home and surroundings I have the privilege of living in every day, for the ability to sit at this computer and share with you what I’m going through and the comfort it gives me. Meditation reminds me that I am alive in this moment and, in spite of this one challenge, I am a very lucky person in so many ways. Blessed, really.
The nature of this flower is to bloom. —Alice Walker