Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chemo Week

I've started Round Three of chemo this week.  It's a drug called Alcoran, one of the earliest chemos used for ovarian cancer before they developed platinum and taxane based alternatives.  It's an old war horse, generally used when other options are no longer available.

I was talking to a friend in California who had a detailed analysis of her sister's tumor tissue done, and the assay (as it is called) indicated that she would have actually have been better off to have started all her treatments with this drug.  So it still has its place in the repertoire, and I can tell from how my lower abdomen is feeling that it actually is working right now.

So here's the weird thing.  The drug is a derivative of mustard gas.  Years ago, I wrote a poem about this in my collection Embracing Brings You Back.  I'll try pasting it in another post.  I find that history a bit creepy, but also intriguing.  It lets you know how blunt a hammer chemotherapy remains.  One of my fantasies is that soon we could have chemo museums where people could stand and stare all all the paraphernalia and marvel:  "Can you believe we actually had to go through that?"

The other strangeness is that I take the drug as eight little pills each night for 5 nights before I go to bed.  No needles, no experts directing the toxins into me.  And no trips to medical day care.  I didn't know that when I wrote the poem. Just me deciding when it's time, counting pills out carefully like a slightly addled pharmacist, and sending them down the hatch.

I put them in a shot glass.  

Today I get to see whether I am flattened on the couch, nauseous, and what effect this will have on my gut, since all chemo is hard on the GI tract.  Last time was easier than the first--so anything is possible.  But it's rainy and cool, so if I hit the sack, it'll be my favorite sleeping weather.

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