This week was the first week since the beginning of January that I did not have to go in for any kind of chemotherapy infusions. I went to work every day. I didn't have any needles jabbed into me. I didn't have to pack a bag full of snacks and reading material to while away the hours in the infusion chair. I just had my usual routines. It was refreshingly normal.
My new version of normal includes a new treatment plan that should be a lot easier. I will now only have to go in for infusions once every three weeks, and I will only get Herceptin and Perjeta each time. These drugs are much less hard on the body in almost every way. I should start to see my hair coming back and, hopefully, an end to the sensitive fingers and toes. I can already tell a difference in my energy levels now that I'm no longer getting Taxol.
I will still get an Xgeva shot for the cancer in my bones as well, but I will only get that on every other visit. I am also on a new hormone therapy pill called letrazole since my cancer is fueled by estrogen. Letrazole is known as an aromatase inhibitor and it works by reducing the amount of estrogen the body produces. So far, I haven't had any side effects from the pills after taking them for a week, and I'm hoping it stays that way.
How long will I continue on this treatment plan? Well, that's anybody's guess. We'll keep at it for as long as it seems to be keeping the cancer at bay and as long as my heart stays strong. At this point, things are looking good. My CA27.29 tumor markers are now down to 68 (from a high of 850, with normal being 0 to 37), and my CEA tumor markers are down to 3.5 (from a high of 48 with normal being 0-2.5). Maybe next time those numbers will be even closer to normal range.
And there's that word "normal" popping up yet again. Normal is a bit of a loaded word, isn't it? What, exactly, does normal mean? We like normal because it is familiar. We like normal because it feels safe. It's a day where everything sort of turns out the way you expect it will. It's a day with no real surprises. But it's all relative, isn't it. Our expectations for what is normal are going to vary from person to person and from day to day. To quote Morticia Adams, "Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly."
Of course, it's also normal for the fly to get caught in the web. That's what life is. Spiders eat flies. The fly just didn't expect it to happen to him. Maybe there's a lesson there for us all. We are all going to hit that spider web, but the more we struggle against it, the faster we get entangled, and the more stuck we feel. Maybe if we are a little more calm and peaceful, the spider won't notice we are there.