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February 22, 2015

Here I am again- standing at a crossroads and wondering which path to take.   Each path so different. Each path unique. Each path, with potential to either bring me more life or bring me closer to the next one.  As I stand here, trying to look down each road and see what lies ahead, I feel the heaviness of the decision and the gravity of the consequences if I begin down the wrong one.

I reach my arms out, trying to grasp in the darkness to find the “answer.” I reach out hoping for someone to tell me the way to go.  I reach out and hope someone will tell me I am walking the right way. Yet i know, I can not reach out- I need to reach within. The only person who can tell me I am going the right way, is myself.  The only ones who has to be at true peace with this next decision is me and my soul.

The thing with my cancer is that no one can can truly give me an “answer.” There are many ideas, opinions, beliefs…and I am blessed to have a great team of doctors and a great support system that shares their thoughts with me but in the end it is my responsibility to take all of these thoughts, make sense of them in some way and then make a decision I can sleep with at night. The most important thing is to know I am on a path that keeps my soul at peace and a path that feels right to ME. Sometimes I get caught up in not letting others down, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings if I don’t agree with the path they think is correct, not offending anyone when I disagree with their ideas….but then I remember it is my life. These are my decisions. These are my breaths. It is up to me to feel if I am on the right path that will keep me breathing.

The Medical Update: February 2015

After 6 rounds of a new chemo regimen (folfiri ply Erbitux), I had a PET scan last week.  I have received many texts and emails and phone calls from caring people in my life asking me “Is it good news?” Well there are so many different ways to interpret the results so there is honestly no one answer.  I will break it down piece by piece and see what we are left with.

Great news: No ones organs are showing any signs of cancer. My brain is clear. The cancer in my lungs has significantly shrunk. The cancer in my pelvic lymph nodes is almost unnoticeable on the scan. Some of the tumors in my spine seem to have slightly shrunk and haven’t caused any more fractures.

Bad News: There are a few new tumors in my spine. The other tumors in my spine look smaller but are lighting up with more cancer which will likely cause more tumors to form. We can try and intervene with more radiation to my spine but that will cause more fractures and more long term bad effects I will not recover from.

Really crappy news: The chemo I am currently on does not have any potential to put this cancer in remission. What this chemo is doing, is  pretty much keeping me stable BUT at the same time is weakening my immune system. According to my doctor, I will have to be on this chemo the rest of my life because if we try and stop it, the cancer will spread like wildfire. The other possibility is that my body will most likely build up a resistance to this particular chemo and it will stop working. At that point, my body will be so weak from these drugs I won’t recover.

Really, really crappy news: This chemo had been tougher on my body and mind than any other treatments I have done in the past almost three years. The mere thought of continuing with this regimen makes me want to almost give up right now than to have to spend another minute drowning in physical and mental misery for five days during the chemo every two weeks.  (i wear it through my port for over 50 hours and then spend two days trying to get out of bed after)

New Hope

Now, after all those depressing thoughts, I will bring it back to the positive. I met with an “integrative Oncologist” whose name is Dr. Gaynor. He combines traditional treatments with holistic treatments and his motto is that he treats “The patient, NOT the disease.” After spending over four hours speaking and working with him, he looked me  straight on the eyes and said, “We can get you back into remission. We can do it without almost killing you in the process.” (I won’t go into all the details of his regimen here, it is quite complicated so I will save it for another day)  One of the best parts of this regimen is that he said I will be so strong, that even on “chemo days” I can live my life the same way I do every other- and for those of you who know how I live my life to the fullest, these were the best words I have ever heard in regards to cancer treatment.

I left his office ad broke down in tears. All of a sudden I had HOPE again- I knew he had come into my path for a reason and I knew his path was the path for me to travel on. That night, I felt more at peace than I have since June when we first found out the cancer was spreading again. This all sounds wonderful right? Well, I think every coin has two sides.  The flip side being that he is not covered by insurance. When I left his office, I was under the impression that the chemo drugs he suggested would be covered and the more “off the traditional route” treatments would be out of pocket.  Well ,the next morning, I spoke to his financial secretary and found out that is not the case. If I can get my main oncologist on board with this more creative approach, she can administer the two most expensive chemo (but less toxic) drugs and they will be covered my insurance.  Then, I can go to his office to receive the rest of the chemo drugs plus injections such as VIitamin C and Vitamin D.

Here is the ballpark difference in cost: If I can get my oncologist to agree to this plan and administer the two most expensive drugs, then working with Dr. Gaynor will cost me between 15-18 thousand a month for three months. (Then we rescan) If I can not get her to agree, the cost will be well over 70 thousand dollars per month.  Both these costs are incredibly insane, and it makes me crazy to think about how much cancer costs and that insurance will cover TOXIC drugs with no problem but when you want to HEAL your cancer without KILLING your body in the process, insurance says they can not help you. So my main goal this week is getting my oncologist on board with this plan.  I am hoping that after almost three years together she will stand by me on this new more creative path for healing. If she doesn’t I have no idea what I will do.  If she agrees I will find a way to work out the financial piece somehow, but if she doesn’t I m going to try and find another in network doctor who will. I have to.

So here I am at this crossroads…..with a firm decision to walk down this new path- I know it won’t be an easy path and I will have to work incredibly hard to maintain it (more strict nutrition, more herbs, more specific juices, more time in offices, etc) but knowing it gives me a real chance to heal empowers me to start the journey. I need a real chance to heal. I deserve to go to sleep at night and feel deep in my soul I am on the right path and for the first time in forever, it seems clear to me again.

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