“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
I love this quote by Winston Churchill, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” As mentioned in one of my previous posts “You have Cancer,” I’ve only had one breakdown since getting the news of cancer. Since that one breakdown, I decided to focus on the positives out of this situation and not the negatives. I could focus on why this happened to me or I could focus on this being a highly curable cancer as long as I go through the treatments. I began focusing on all of the positives I could come up with: My awesome support systems (friends, family, social media, etc…) and how I could potentially help people by sharing my story. This is what I chose to do because I definitely believe that having the right mindset is crucial to living a healthy life and overcoming any obstacle.
After I underwent my surgery, it was time to set-up an appointment with an Oncologist (aka the cancer doctor). It was about a week after my ball surgery that I met with the Oncologist. The first steps were to come to his office and review my lab work and CT scan to see the various areas the cancer had spread. He confirmed that the cancer spread to my abdominal and lung area. Chemotherapy was the next step.
We had to review the various options of chemotherapy that I could choose from. It wasn’t like I had a lot of options, but I did have two different treatment plans I could go with. First, a nine week total chemotherapy cycle with one “on week” (meaning, I would come in everyday during that week from 8am – 5pm) and have two “off weeks” – Still having to come in, but every Tuesday for an hour long treatment before it will repeat itself. It would reach three total cycles total.
The second option I had was to do four total cycles over a twelve week period with a cycle being one “on week” that would happen every three weeks. The major difference between the two treatments is that the first treatment includes a dose called Bleomycin. It’s a chemical that could potentially affect my lungs – Lance Armstrong forwent this dosage when he got his treatment to avoid any chance of messing up his lungs. The second dose would also be a whole cycle longer. It would increase the following chemotherapy effects: Hair loss, weakness, fatigue, etc. My doctor recommended the first treatment with the Bleomycin, but I didn’t want a chance for my lungs to get messed up, so I chose to do option two. Before the treatment option could be finalized, my doctor had me take a couple of tests to check out my lungs and hearing. When I was a kid, I had slight hearing loss due to the amount of tubes I had in my ears. My doctor wanted me to get tested because inner hearing loss is associated with kidney treatments – My kidneys are going to get blasted while I’m on chemotherapy. When I say blasted, I mean that the medicine will affect my kidneys the most and the reason for me being in the hospital so long is to flush my kidneys out to avoid failure. Overall, the longer treatment plan would affect my kidneys and my inner hearing more than the shorter treatment. When I got my results, my lung test came back normal, which meant it was safe for me to have the Bleomycin treatment. My hearing test came back, and it was confirmed that I had slight hearing loss – It was the ultimate deciding factor in having to pick the first treatment option.
Now that my treatment plan had been decided, I now had another decision to make regarding how the chemotherapy would be administered in my system. I had two options, I could get it via IV or I could get a Port surgically installed. It is a small plastic tube that sits above my chest muscle under the skin that has a cord that connects to my juggler. My first thoughts were, “I’m done with surgical operations, let’s just do the IV.” After talking more with other chemo patients and friends of mine, I decided to move forward with the Port. Here are the main reasons why: I would not have to be stuck each time I came in for treatment as the doctors/nurses could access anything they needed through my port and my veins would not get messed up from the chemo (veins are known to harden and become less visible after receiving chemo). Soon enough, I got the Port installed. This was a very simple procedure that lasted a couple hours. The most difficult thing about it was getting used to having it stick out above my chest and know that the cord that is connected to my juggler. After a few days, I became a bit more comfortable with it, but it definitely takes some getting used to.
Finally, my treatment plan had been finalized and I had everything I needed to begin my chemo treatment. Chemo treatment started on December 16, 2013. During my first on week, I would go in from 8am – 5pm, Monday – Friday. I will then have off the next two weeks off only coming in for one hour each Tuesday for a small dosage. This would last a total of nine weeks (lasting up until mid-February). I have posted my treatment calendar under the “Support Me” tab. My next post will recap my first week of chemotherapy.