Well, the heart CT I was supposed to have last Tuesday got canceled (due to insurance miscommunications) so I proceeded to my regularly scheduled monthly oncology appointment Friday, at which time my oncologist kidnapped me. I was just minding my business telling her how the day before I almost passed out in the post office and had to sit down on the sidewalk a few times on the way there, and a few other shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, almost passing out incidences that past week — when she abruptly left the room, then came back and told me she was admitting me into Urgent Care right then and there.
What I thought was going to be a quick in and out at Urgent Care turned into 4 days in hospital — I just got out last night. After a Lung CT to rule out blood clots (many cancer patients die from clots, not their cancer), Heart CT, 2 Heart Sonograms, multiple Electrocardiograms (EKGs), blood tests around the clock, and being constantly hooked up to a 10 armed hydra like heart monitor — I was told they found nothing structurally wrong with my lungs or heart. That’s the good news. Now that the usual suspects have been eliminated the cardiologist thinks the symptoms are most likely due to the chemo capecitabine (Xeloda) and other drugs. I’ve been taken off everything for now and we are doing a wait and see if symptoms fade.
This presents a dilemma in that Xeloda was actually keeping the cancer in check and had even shrunk some lesions in my liver last year. It’s a drug generally well tolerated with fewer side effects than other chemo. There is a subset of patients that develop serious heart issues on Xeloda and I seem to be one.
A while back I had pretty much decided Xeloda was the last drug I was willing to take — I’ll be talking to my oncologist soon to see what else she might have in her magic bag. Once I have all the info, pros & cons, and have spent a great deal of time in prayer, it will be time to make some decisions. On one CT, taken this weekend, the radiology report said there was an “increase in size and number of multiple bilobar hepatic metastases,” which is just a fancy way of saying the lesions throughout my liver have grown in size and number since November. So Xeloda may have stopped working anyway to slow progression.
Since there is no medical cure and we are just trying to slow progression while maintaining some quality of life, it may be time to make the decision to stop treatments. I won’t know if that’s the best decision for me at this point until I hear all possible options from my onc (onc is patient code for oncologist). I have no fear of death, and my unexpected hospital stay confirmed what I would like not to go through on my way there. In the hospital I shared a room with a woman that was dying from stage 4 thyroid cancer — she had had endless chemo, radiation, and treatments that had left her literally unable to speak, eat, or walk. Her husband stayed with her the entire time and he confided in me he regretted many of the treatments they knew could not cure her and had taken away all quality of life she had left.
Today I read about Norma, a 90 year old woman who when diagnosed with cancer and treatment options was asked by her doctor how she would like to proceed, she told him: “I’m hitting the road!” Maybe its time I buy an RV — anyone want to join me?! Read about Norma by clicking here.
posted 01 March 2016: http://hopeandcourage.com