what thoughts rattle around in your brain when you're a mom of a toddler and a breast cancer patient?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Free Radicals

Today I'm going in for part 2 of my first cycle of chemo. Funny thing about chemo, the goal is to create free radicals which will kill cells. Healthy cells and cancer cells. The oncologist is trying for cell death, plain and simple. Programmed cell death has a name, I think its apoptosis. Healthy cells are programmed to die within a normal period of time for whatever kind of cell it is. A cancer cell loses its programming somehow and just keeps going and making more of itself. Not good. This is how tumors form. (I've oversimplified it but ok, work with me).

When you listen to commercials for vitamins, especially antioxidants, the vitamins are promoted to prevent free radicals from forming. Therefore, only low doses of vitamins are recommended during chemo because as I said, chemo is meant to produce free radicals. Sounds weird, right?

It's hard to describe what it feels like to go to a chemo treatment. They call it an infusion. Doesn't that sound healthy and new age? Anyway, I dread going and yet I look forward to it because it means one more is out of the way. I'm getting the #1 emetogenic chemo drug, cisplatin, along with another drug called Gemzar. Emetogenic means it makes you toss your cookies or feel really nauseated or both.

Last Wednesday November 10th was my first treatment with these new drugs. I got really sick on Friday which is considered a delayed reaction. Most people get sick between 4-16 hours after a treatment, not 48 hours after. Its less common but it happens, and it's also harder to treat. My oncologist is suggesting a new drug called Emend that might help. It's $250 for three pills. I was speechless when I heard that. I don't know what people do who don't have heath insurance. I guess they bounce alot of checks. I read that lower income women have a higher mortality rate when it comes to breast cancer. White women have the highest survival rate. That works ok for me because I'm white but I can't imagine how I'd feel as a lower income woman who was a minority too. No one needs to feel the odds stacked against her any more than they already are when you hear the words cancer come out of your doctor's mouth.

I saw an advertisement at the oncology office for a drug and the caption was "The only thing worse than hearing you have cancer is hearing it twice." This is why I'm getting more chemo now, while my disease is considered to be curable. Cure me! I miss my days of good health and strong physical condition.

My friend Angela is going with me again for today's chemo. When she went (she recently finished treatment herself), she said she tried to make each one an event. That made it sound good so that's what we're doing. We're going to dress comfy, I'm bringing us some snacks and she is bringing a video of Sex and The City for us to watch since my onco office has tvs and vcrs at each chair.

In Yoga, at the end of the session they say Namaste. It means I bow to the light in you. (or something like that). So to my Good Cells, Namaste and rest in peace, I'm sorry you have to die today along with the enemy. Cancer cells, go straight to hell and don't come back, you are intruders and not wanted in my body. I know you're sorry for turning on me but I can't forgive you because you have caused me so much misery.

Namaste.

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