Post-chemo (Monday’s second round), Mrs. Charm is moving slowly about the Rancho, almost like someone twice her age. Her energy of the past ten days is nowhere in evidence. Her hair loss which began late last week also makes it harder to ignore what’s happening to her. Only her faded Paddington-Bear hat makes it seem like old times.
But her cancer doc said Monday the energy will return in a week or two, the hair will grow back eventually (though probably not for several more months), and, best of all, the cancer-swollen lymph nodes definitely are shrinking. So joy—momentarily in abeyance—continues at Rancho Roly Poly.
Further enhanced by several containers of goodies delivered yesterday by a favorite work colleague, the latest in the tidal wave of home-cooked and bought meals from many friends to show her how much they love her. Which makes me feel smart all over again for marrying her.
Mrs. Charm passed her recent blood tests such that the doc cleared her to grocery shop for the first time in weeks. Good thing, too, as I was weary of trying to find all the brands she specifies. A real treasure hunt. I still doubt whole wheat blueberry waffles exist.
All systems are go for a second round of chemo on the 27th. Unfortunately it’s the second one where the hair generally falls out. It’ll probably be traumatic since she hasn’t seen her head since she was an infant and didn’t know what it was then. I am doing Web searches on scarves and other soft head-coverings. Any ideas?
Otherwise, joy has returned to Mudville (i.e. Rancho Roly Poly) as Mrs. C. actually has some energy, in spurts at least, between the usual bouts of lethargy. Probably the two recent get-well cards from her colleagues helped. I haven’t see so many notes and signatures since I graduated from high school.
And the cooked meals continue to arrive at least twice weekly with more than enough for leftovers. We like the homemade ones best, even the black-beans-and-rice health-food concoction the other day, but they’re all good. And free, too. Who could argue with free?
Blog friends here and in Israel have offered their prayers and, for those who don’t believe, good thoughts and good advice. Three (so far) of Mrs. Charm’s work friends have brought cooked meals and lingered for morale-building visits. And, of course, the good family phone calls and emails keep rolling in.
We watched (and participated in) this process with one of Mrs. C.’s best friends, who died of a brain tumor several years ago, after lengthy, debilitating bouts of surgery, chemo and radiation. All to no avail. Her advice then was to accept all offers gratefully when first made. Because they might fade away as the well try to distance themselves from the unwell. Indeed, some who faded away were among her oldest friends.
Which is not criticism, really, just reality. The healthy understandably do not like being confronted with their own mortality which they know down deep inside is sure to get them, too, in the end. I think it’s somewhat easier for a combat veteran, having faced mortality every day for months at a stretch. It became a habit to think about it daily ever after.
I remember bringing jelly beans to a good guy dying of AIDS back in the 80s when I was reporting the epidemic for the daily. It pained him to chew and swallow the colorful bean-shaped candies but he’d always loved them and he wanted them at his end. He died a few days later, happier, I hope, for his last handfuls of jelly beans.
UPDATE: Twenty-two additional work friends plan to bring cooked meals and visit with Mrs. C, in a morale-building display of their affection for her.
Yesterday’s bone-marrow biopsy for Mrs. C. only lasted five minutes but the setup, and the recovery from the “twilight” painkiller took several hours. And before she even was taken to surgery, the business office came to call.
Insurance, apparently, agreed to pick up 80 percent of the hospital’s costs but we paid the rest, and the wallet biopsy took precedence to the medical one. Can’t blame them. Nobody (except government) is in business to lose money.
Still to come, of course, are the costs charged by the doctor and nurses and drugs and etcetera. And more for today’s PET scan which looks to take most of the afternoon.
We get Wednesday off, then it’s back to the grind on Thursday. All this to decide whether (and how) chemo actually begins next week. Fight cancer, the unaffected always insist. If they only knew how wearying it is before the fight even begins.
Tentative smiles, that is, among the patients. The staff smiles until you wonder if their faces will crack open and their mouths fill with blood. We primary care-givers also smile tentatively, keying on our patients.
I’m a primary care-giver now that Mrs. Charm has been diagnosed with Stage III Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, DLBCL. Tentatively. Still awaiting results of this morning’s bone-marrow biopsy and this week’s PET scan to make sure it isn’t some other type of lymphoma. The lymphoma part is definite.
Infusion port to be installed in her upper chest soon for the chemo to begin (tentatively) week of Oct. 6. Drill thereafter is one six-hour day of infusion of R-CHOP (unlovely acronym) followed by three weeks of recovery.
Then another six hours of toxic infusions and so on for (ideally) about six months. Otherwise Mrs. C will not be among the 55-70 percent for whom R-CHOP works (for at least two years, hopefully longer) and then it will be on to the radiation and, probably even more tentative smiles as the burning further diminishes her health.
There’s little joy in Mudville, i.e. Rancho Roly Poly, these days. Mr. Boy (a new high school freshman) and I are hanging (appropriate word) in there. Tentatively.