I was sitting in the exam room at the oncologist's office. My husband had his arm around me as we waited for the doctor to come in. I had a box of Kleenex on my lap because I knew I wasn't going to make it through the appointment without crying. Why should this day be any different? I had, after all, been crying daily for the past 10 or 12 days. Emotionally, I was at the end of my rope. I knew I couldn't do this any longer.
Physically, I wasn't in any better shape. My skin was ash gray. I had two black eyes. I could barely walk from the car to the door of the doctors office. I was bald (naturally). I looked like an actual cancer patient, something I had managed to avoid for most of the other 14 chemo treatments I had taken in the past year.
About a week earlier while lying on the couch I had announced to my husband, "I'm not doing any more chemo." I told him I couldn't take any more. "I'm going to tell the doctor when I see him, that this will have to be enough because I just can't do any more. I'm done."
My husband, who was sympathetic to my cause and who had not wanted me to have to do chemo in the first place had told me he was O.K. with that decision. Each time I started crying over the next week, he would put his arm around me and say, "It's O.K. it's over. You can tell the doctor when you see him."
So, there we sat in the exam room. I was bracing myself for a small fight. I figured he would try to convince me to take the last two treatments. I was close to being done anyway.
The doctor walked in and said hello. He sat down across from me looking at the results of the blood test. He looked up and said, "You're blood counts are not good. Are you bleeding?"
"Bleeding? Like I cut myself bleeding?" I asked.
"Yes," he said. "Like that."
"No, I'm not bleeding that I am aware of." I responded.
"Well, we need to get you into the hospital for a transfusion. You're hemoglobin is at 5. You won't be able to get your next treatment tomorrow."
I start to cry, "I don't want to do anymore." I say. "I can't, I'm exhausted."
The doctor looks at me and looks down at the blood report. "Well, three is the magic number." He says. "I think three cycles (1 cycle equals 2 treatments) will have to do. We've been pushing you because you are young and healthy but I think you've done as much as you can."
I'm still crying but relieved. I'm so tired. I can barely move or think clearly but I know he is not trying to convince me to continue with the treatments. I've been so worried that not doing the chemo would put me at a higher risk but the doctor is saying he is comfortable with stopping at three.
It's three weeks, one hospital stay and four pints of blood later and I'm finally feeling better. The nausea still comes on a little and I'm not as strong as I was before this latest round of chemo but I'm exercising and getting better every day. The downpour has slowed down to a drizzle and the storm is finally moving out. I'm a long way from the rainbow's end but at least I can see it from here.
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright, bright
I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright, bright
P.S. I hope I can start using this blog for it's intended purpose. Soon, I want to be involved in the conversation about breast cancer and research. I'm very much looking forward to being part of the solution.
I can see clearly now the rain has gone