Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 132: No Dice

I think it was in the blog before last when I said that I felt proud of my numbers before the last chemo round, and cautioned myself that I shouldn't take it too hard if things didn't go so well in the future.

Well, things aren't good, and I'm being hard on myself. I was sent home from chemo today because my white blood cell count is almost zero.

I saw the look on the nurse's face and I knew. She looked a little devastated herself. She said that there were some options--they could give me a shot of neutropin and some antibiotics and try anyway today, though she would have to ask the doctor if that was ok. Or, they could give me the shot and send me home and I'd have to try again on Friday, when my regular nurse is not there. The doctor (well, the physician's assistant) said no to going ahead today. I guess they would do this sometimes--but not for me. You are just too sensitive, they said. Your body reacts too extremely to the chemo and to all drugs. They tried to put a positive spin on it by saying that the chemo would probably really work on my cancer.

Or, it will do its job on the rest of me. Here I was, getting over my cold, no fever anymore, feeling ok. And yet I have such a low white blood cell count that any minor infection could essentially kill me. I saw the oncologist yesterday. Nothing new to report there--he doesn't think I need a bone scan. I would've written more about the visit if this hadn't happened today. I don't feel like it now. Anyway, I asked him specifically why I don't have to take neulasta with taxol. Because you don't need it, he said. It doesn't affect your counts the same way that A/C does.

The nurse agreed that that is true--98% of the time. Have you noticed a theme where I'm in the 2%? It's just so damn depressing. Now I will have to go through this all again, wait for the numbers again, and if I'm allowed to get chemo on Friday, I will take neulasta the next day. That coupled with taxol will probably give me such bad bone pain that according to the nurse "we are going to have to figure out some kind of medication to give you."

It's hard to explain to someone who isn't doing this how devastating it is to be sent home from chemo. You'd think I'd be glad for the break. But you get all psyched up, you spend the sleepless night, you pack your bag for the long infusion. You worry about the numbers. WBC is the worst, because it's the most important and because there's not a damn thing you can do--no diet, activity, nothing--to boost it short of these specific drugs. And you have no idea if the count is low, because you don't feel any different. It's like walking around with a time bomb. Boom! You're in the ER for a week. You get ready for all of that, you take a day off of work, and it's all for nothing. And you just sit there and cry, because the magic day of October 13 is even farther away.

If I successfully do chemo on Friday I will probably stay on schedule to finish on October 13, since they will make me take neulasta from here on out. If not, I will need to do it next week, and the likelihood of finishing by Christmas becomes pretty improbable.

I'm getting the feeling my body just isn't made for this. Cancer came up out of nowhere--three tumors, a rare type, resistant to most of the treatments. The one treatment available is trying its best to knock me on my ass. And now the next thing I get to look forward to is getting a new nurse who may or may not have a clue how to put an IV in me. And that's if I'm lucky and my numbers improve. Right now the one count they're looking at is 0.3. They will treat me if it gets to 0.5, even though the low end of normal is 1.5.

I'm not working, because I really shouldn't be at work, or on the train. I should have just gone straight home but I was too upset. I went shopping on the mag mile and then drove myself to chinatown for lunch. I'm home now, and will be working from home tomorrow. But in the end, I think this means I might be taking disability. I made it through 4 1/2 months of working with breast cancer, and maybe that's enough for now. Of course this doesn't help me figure out what to do about my kids. They're going to be germy throughout the whole fall season, and I can't exactly avoid them.

I really needed this to go right today, and honestly I can't think of anything to say to end this blog except that I'm tired. Damn tired. And that cancer sucks.


  1. So sorry to hear this, Katy. Yes, it does suck. I'm thinking of you... It sounds so hard. And definitely take disability if you can and want. Give yourself whatever you can that is good for you. You most definitely deserve it.

  2. Crap. Sorry, man. Try not to get worried too far ahead, though. Your body might be able to handle all of this fine, but it just needed a short break and this was how it said so. Keep us posted on how Friday goes.