I've been lucky to not be struck by too many sleepless nights but tonight is an exception so I might as well write it down and invite you all into my insomnia. Welcome!
The chemo break doesn't feel as good as I hoped it would. It's awesome to have my weekends back and it's great to not be at the hospital every other week. My stomach does turn at just the typing of chemo and then the smell of Dana Farber wafts into my nose's memory. Chemo is not fun, but sitting around and waiting for cancer to grow enough to be visible on a scan is far less fun. I can't stop worrying and I can't turn my brain off.
(Quick detour about Dana Farber's smell - it's specifically the smell of the bathrooms that gets me. When I go to Dana for therapy or a non-chemo appointment, if I use any bathroom there I am immediately whisked to a chemo place. Associations are weird.)
In two weeks I'll have a PET scan followed up by appointments with my oncologist and my surgeon. There is a small chance that I could be a candidate for surgery and I am pushing to find out. Without going into too much detail, the surgery would take out a bank of lymph nodes from the infected area with the hope that any existing cancer cells are only in that area. There's no guarantee that it would lead to a NED (no evidence of disease) status and even less of a guarantee that it could be a cure (a word not really used in my case) but to me, if there is even a small chance that it might work, I think it could be worth the risk. I'm young, I've recovered quickly from surgery before and could hopefully do it again.
And that's what I can't stop thinking about - that I am young and there are lots of life things left to do. As we look forward, the biggest decision of the moment is whether or not to pursue surrogacy that would bring a baby into our lives. I finally asked my oncologist about the potential and she confirmed that I can't carry a baby, the risk of the cancer returning and having to make an incredibly difficult decision is too high. (Plus I think my science is broken but that's another matter entirely.) She also said that if we do want to pursue surrogacy then that means that we need to have a more detailed conversation with her about known facts and stats in terms of average lifespan.
I should insert here that she also said she believes that given my age and high tolerance of and positive response to chemo she believes that I am going to do better than the average.
Here's the rub though, the numbers and the stats and the facts are culled mostly from patients who are decades older than me. I know that cancer doesn't decide its victims based on how nice they are or their age, but I can't really believe that those numbers can define my experience. Even if they did, how could I not think that my outcome could be that of the small percentage that survive? There was a 10-15% chance that my collapsed colon would turn out to be cancer, I am of the small percentage that had a wildly allergic reaction to my first chemo, I am of the even smaller percentage that has metastases only to the lymph nodes. Why shouldn't I be of the small percentage that lives?
Plus, PLUS, there are advances being made every day. Just this summer the first Phase 3 immunotherapy trial for MSS-CRC patients (about 95% of the colorectal cancer patient community) was launched. I don't know much about it, but trust me that I'm learning, however I do know that one of the drugs being tested is the same that has done wonders for the melanoma community.
In summary, my brain = science facts, babies, youth, frozen science babies. My heart = frustrated, sad, determined.