I Got 99 Problems, and Chemo is 1
By now you have heard me obsess about the highly anticipated results of the Tailor X clinical trial. Essentially the results indicated that 70% of women with early stage breast cancer who are hormone receptor positive and have no lymph node involvement would benefit from just hormone therapy alone.
So imagine me reading the results of this study on my cracked iPhone screen. In bed. Giggling to myself.
That sounds like me, I thought. Cool. No chemo.
Now imagine the moment where you are in middle school carrying your lunch tray past your crush, and all of a sudden you trip and fall flat on your face.
The crowd makes the ever popular “OOOOOOOOHHHHH” sound.
That was my reaction when my oncologist called to tell me I was indeed having chemo. (The kid that fell on their face, not the asshole who laughed.)
The results showed that women do benefit from chemo if they have an Oncotype score 11-25, and are under the age of 50. That’s also me. Neat.
*Pause* What is Oncotype again? It is a genomic test that quantifies the level of distant recurrence of your cancer. The score goes from 0-100. (I am a 24, for those keeping score).
Being “young” sucks. Scratch that, being young with breast cancer sucks.
So, my date with chemo was on. I had an appointment for my first infusion on the books for last Thursday.
My palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy…
I was not sure what to expect. I have enough cancer comrades now that helped me with wardrobe and meal prep ahead of the day; but still everyone is different. I decided to take the advice I was given, but knew that I might adjust my routine as my cycles went on.
Steve and I arrived at Memorial Sloan Kettering at 9:30am. I had a fiber filled smoothie in a perfect little mason jar in my hand. I wore my favorite floral sneakers. I was chemo chic as hell.
After getting what seemed like 3 pints of blood drawn from my arm, (since this was my first infusion, they take all of your labs then) we made our way upstairs to meet with the doctor.
*FEMINIST TIME OUT* (Kind of like a Zack Morris time out, but for women.) in the phlebotomy lab, one of the techs was making small talk, and asked who my doctor is. When I told her, she said “She is very pretty.” And just like that, the women’s movement has been set back yet again. My oncologist is a bad bitch who went to Harvard Medical School, and is smart as hell. Sorry, being pretty is the least of her accomplishments.
Ok, I’m back. After about 30 minutes of seeing different nurses as well as my oncologist, I was told they needed to “mix” my Chemo, and that takes awhile. I envisioned a bartender making a Long Island Iced Tea. Those must take awhile to make. After all, there is like 100 different things in there.
We were sent away to another campus down the street so I could get an EKG. Chemo can affect the rhythm of your heartbeat, so they needed to get a baseline from me.
We arrived back at the hospital to begin treatment. I panned the room for any sign of people my age. There were a few, but still; I was the minority.
We were escorted back to a private suite, and were instructed to get comfortable. We were assigned our own nurse, and she came in to explain to me what was going into my body. I kind of wished it was a Long Island Iced Tea mix instead of the drugs I can't pronounce.
What kind of chemo is it that I am receiving? It is called CMF. They explained to me what every part of the cocktail does, however all I heard was “you won’t lose your hair.” Although at this point I don’t really care that much.
1 cycle down, 7 cycles to go. By my calculations, I will be done right around the holidays. Ho ho ho...done with chemo!
Bottom line, I am making the best of it. At the end of the day, I am receiving excellent care, which many people don’t have access to. I am going to do my best to power through the coming months, and certainly take as many naps as I deem necessary.