I’m in for another year of chemotherapy.
I just stared at that first sentence for about 5 or 10 minutes before I could figure out how to write the second one.
The fact is, that if the doctor hadn’t recommended this regimen, I would have begged him for it. Here’s why.
Months ago, I found out that my cancer had relapsed too aggressively for radiation therapy. The only course of action was the high-intensity chemotherapy and stem cell transplant that I recently finished. I was also warned that MAYBE I would have to go on a maintenance chemotherapy drug called Brentuximab. At the time I thought, “Brentuximab… kind of sounds like a supervillain who’s hatching a plot to devastate an unsuspecting populace”. I also thought “I really, really don’t want that”.
As months and meetings with doctors came and went, there was always a whisper of this evil Brentuximab. As if lurking in the shadows, biding its time, it was unclear if or when we would ever meet. Unsure of whether it was a realistic threat or what might lead to our meeting, my only thought was, I hope to god we never cross paths.
In early December, I got some very promising PET scan results. The chemotherapy I had BEFORE the stem cell transplant had worked so well that I was in complete remission. I thought we had squashed Brentuximab before it reared its ugly head. Surely this scoundrel and I would never converge.
I received the stem cell transplant and high-dose chemotherapy, got discharged from the hospital after 20 days, and really thought that I was coasting toward normalcy.
Then, a few weeks ago, as if risen from the grave, rumors of Brentuximab were on my Doctors’ lips again. Obviously, this miscreant wouldn’t go down easy.
Luckily for me, a friend who works as a Nurse Practitioner was visiting for the weekend. We were able to log on to her medical database and find out what makes our so-called villain tick.
**Plot Twist #2**
As it turns out, Brentuximab isn’t the villain, it was just misunderstood all along! Brentuximab and I have decided to join forces against the true supervillain, Cancer (which could use a more evil sounding name in my opinion).
What it comes down to is, the research shows that this drug works. It’s particularly effective at reducing the chances of relapse in someone who has already had an aggressive relapse once. It also appears to be pretty well tolerated.
I need to remind myself that I’m lucky to have access to medicines like these, and I don’t have to re-mortgage my house to get them. It’s also important to look at the big picture and realize that this treatment is bringing me closer to my family’s ultimate goals: a cancer-free life, and a baby or two once the smoke clears.
So it goes.