Saturday, April 2, 2016

Fortunes Reversed

Yesterday I got another chance at my prime lesson in battling cancer: letting go of the illusion of control.

No sooner had I established (at the encouragement of my oncologists) that I was meeting or exceeding all my markers for a good response to my initial rounds of chemo-therapy, then a blood draw Monday turned up an adverse number, triggering a sea change in how I was being assessed.

In particular, there was a rise in the amount of "light chain protein" in my blood (there's also a heavy chain protein, but it's the light ones that are used as a marker of my cancer's progression) and this is something that the doctors think is critical to keep at a minimum leading up to my having a stem-cell transplant.

While there's part of me that's amazed and shaken that a single test could be so destabilizing to my treatment plan, this has not eroded my fundamental faith in my doctors. We will be in this together, wherever it leads.

In any event, after first laying out the expectation that I'd be entering a relatively quiet maintenance phase of the chemo protocol from now until a July transplant at the Mayo Clinic,  all of that shifted yesterday. Determined to get back on top of the light chains, the doctors in both Duluth and Rochester have agreed that a more aggressive plan is in order that will entail the introduction of some additional new drugs.  

This new cocktail is potent enough that I'll be readmitted into the hospital for five days, starting Monday, followed by a crucial week of observations to see how I respond. The doctors were straight with me. This will be my most severe test yet, and there's no guarantee that I'll survive it. (Quite the change from the calm waters I had woken up to when the week began!)

Once again it's time to set aside all other concerns and opportunities to prepare myself to simply ride the waves of my treatment, doing all that I can to be my body's ally. It is not yet time to be planning presentations or to be crafting book outlines. First I have to get well.

While it has been a jolt to have my plans knocked down (I liked the picture of a predictable, playful spring) and to again be staring down the chaotic barrels of what my cancer hath wrought, there is also a part of me that is relieved to be facing the hard stuff sooner, with minimal delay. It was always coming, and it feels better to be turning toward the boogie man, rather than away. If the cancer is stronger than I, so be it. If I am stronger, let's find out now and move forward.

3 comments:

Becky Laskody said...

Ouch! I was also hopeful for your spring play time. You have given so much to so many and I would like to see you enjoying some spring time. My prayers are with you. Hugs, Becky*

Alison Kilpatrick said...

Hi, Laird: Jim and I are thinking of you, and sending you our very best wishes through the tough trial during the next couple of weeks. Ali

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