Today was Chuck’s 3 week treatment anniversary… 3 weeks of radiation down and 3 weeks of radiation to go. It was also a surprisingly good day, after having a really tough week and a half. At Chuck’s clinic appointment we learned that his blood work looks amazing – he is not anemic, his platelet count is stable, and most importantly, his white blood cell count is high - which means his immune system is still strong even after 3 weeks of chemo, radiation and AZD. We attribute this to Chuck’s overall strength and good health going into this crisis, his positive attitude, and his weekly acupuncture treatments, which have been focused on keeping his immune system strong. We were so happy to finish this momentous day on such a joyous note.
As I said in my previous post, the power port surgery really took a lot out of Chuck, and I have been noticing a slow but steady decline in Chuck’s overall energy level – which is very normal and common for patients entering their third week of radiation. Chuck’s hair also started falling out this week, which for me was still a shock, even though the doctors prepared us for it. I think it made everything seem all the more real to me. Chuck, as always, is taking everything that comes his way in stride, and is accepting of these latest developments. I still don’t know how he does it all so gracefully, working through each and every crisis, no matter how big or small, without a single complaint or “why me”. He really is my hero.
We spent a good deal of time waiting today, waiting for doctors, blood draws, his MRI, EKG, his first nebulizer treatment – and during this time I did a lot of reflection. I thought about our first appointment at Dana Farber, and remember that day vividly. I remember feeling like we stuck out like a sore thumb - Chuck’s young, healthy, and had all of his hair – and the majority of the other people in the waiting room were older, sickly looking, and bald. I thought to myself, what are we doing here? Chuck is the strongest, healthiest person I have ever known (not to mention vegan!), so why are we here in this cancer hospital?! I felt like we were invading the “sick peoples” space, and that we were imposters. But now, after three weeks of him being a patient there (and me being the wife of a patient) I pretty much feel like we are one of the gang. We see the same people everyday, the security guards, the parking guys, the receptionists, the nurses, the doctors – and they all know us. As much as I despise it, we are part of the cancer club now, and this is our new reality. It is so exciting to think that as of today Chuck is halfway done with his radiation, but this is only the beginning of a very long, very hard road. Once his radiation treatment is complete he will need to remain on the Temodar (chemo) and the AZD (trial drug) for a minimum of 1-2 years. And when the 1-2 years is up and they take him off the Temodar and AZD it will only be because the drugs are no longer working and they have to switch him to a new form of chemo and a new trial. More than likely, there will be more surgeries. For this disease has no cure – it is not if the tumor will come back, it is when. Yet Chuck is young and strong and ready to fight – and I know that together we are even stronger. And today, hearing the positive upswing in Abby’s voice when she told us about Chuck’s blood work, and how great she thinks he is doing, we really saw a glimmer of hope. And it is a beautiful thing.