Today I had my first meeting with my Oncologist. She didn’t tell me much that I hadn’t already read in my patient notes (here in Sweden we can access our patient records online), but she did give information as to how things were going to proceed. As we knew from the patient notes, surgery was currently not an option for me so it will be chemotherapy, plus probably radiation. If things with the chemo/radiation go well, then perhaps surgery will be put back on the table (pun intended!).
So chemo begins 8am on Thursday morning with a small operation to insert a port on my chest into which they will insert the drugs, and out of which they will be able to draw blood – this is a good thing because I have very shy veins as even a simple blood test can be a lengthy, frustrating procedure (3 nurses and 5 failed attempts to get blood today before they hit a slow but co-operative spot). The plan is that I will have 2-week cycles. Week one will have two consecutive days of chemo, and week two will be a rest week to allow the body to recover from week one. The plan is for this to go on for about three months after which they will do another MRI and see how the cancer is reacting to the treatment and then they will decide what happens as a result of that.
Prognosis was all about statistics, and depends on whether or not I have surgery. People with stage 4 colon cancer usually live up to 5 years if they have surgery, but perhaps 3 without – give or take a year or two. So from that I figure somewhere between two and six years. It could be a lot worse. You can accomplish a lot of things in that length of time – ask my kids how much I can pack into a 2-3 day mini break!
It feels good that they are starting treatment so that the rate at which the cancer is spreading should be slowed down if not halted. Mikael is really happy about this. To be honest, I feel scared. I really hate the idea of having to go through the surgical procedure to insert the port. It’s a local anaesthetic so I would be much happier if they just did it up in a treatment room in the Oncology Dept, but nope, it’s a full blown circus of pre-op starvation, hospital gowns etc. I’ll be the first to ‘fess up that I am not the most gracious of patients when it comes to surgical procedures! I’m also concerned about how the side effects of chemo will affect me. I know what I could expect, but not what I will experience. I think that’s the underlying problem. The unknown always scares me.
So there we have it. After weeks of uncertainty and countless tests, my fight back begins in two days.