My eyes still well up when I remember my oncologist entering the exam room on Wednesday. He walked in holding a print copy of my MRI report. I’d had the procedure done around 8:30 that morning, and when Dan and I met with him about three hours later he was holding the results.
“The tumor is smaller!” he said. He bent down to show me the part of the report with the happy news, and read it out loud to us.
“Oh my god! That’s fantastic!” I said. “I am so happy!” Our three faces were nothing but teeth, so big were the smiles.
When it was time to discuss my course of treatment back in February, I never considered not doing the chemo and radiation. I knew that some patients opted out, of course, but my personal philosophy was to do anything and everything the doctors recommended.
(And also legally vape some weed and ingest some “enhanced” peanut butter cookies.)
That does not mean, however, that I never second-guessed my decision after a dose of chemo. When you’re so weak and sick you can’t get out of bed for 7-10 days and the MRIs all come back saying the tumor is “stable,” you do wonder whether it’s worth it, making yourself that miserable for no significant results.
But when those thoughts did creep up, I tried to picture my neurosurgeon back in February standing over my hospital bed the night before my craniotomy. “You’re young, and all of us believe this will help you,” he said.
“All of us” was a big deal, because there were like 40 doctors weighing in on my case.
They learned just what kind of mutant my tumor was, and they picked a treatment course that had a history of working. I’d try to remind myself of that every time I had to swallow capsules full of medicine derived from mustard gas.
After taking a few minutes to celebrate my withering bundle of astrocytes, Dr. A asked if there was anything I wanted to discuss. So I brought up that my fatigue was getting unbearable and asked whether he thought I should go back on an iron supplement.
(About a year ago, my primary doctor had asked me to give them a try, but I’d stopped after being admitted to the hospital just because I had SO MANY PILLS to take that I forgot about the supplement.)
“I really don’t think iron is going to help. This fatigue is 100% my fault. It’s my medicine that’s causing the problem. So I’m going to prescribe you Ritalin to take following your next round of gleostine.”
I was kind of surprised. I mean, Ritalin? Really? But I see now that it’s also used to treat narcolepsy. And the generic name of the drug starts with “meth” so….