Those were the words of my oncologist Dr Taché yesterday before the start of my third cycle of chemotherapy. The suggestion is that, perhaps, what Dr Taché was able to feel, is the healing of the incision from my biopsy. It’s difficult not to get excited about the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma has been killed but the reality is we don’t know, and as Dr Taché was quick to point out we need scans to know what is going on. I suppose the lymphoma could have shrunk and be hiding beneath, or perhaps even within the biopsy healing, so at the moment I’m working hard at containing my excitement as I would prefer continuing darkness to a false dawn at this stage.
In the run up to yesterday’s appointment I’d been experiencing both daytime cold sweats and night sweats for the previous four or five nights, both of which I associate with the onset of the cancer and its development from Stage 2 to Stage 2B. In addition I’ve had sore throats and tightness in my chest, coughing when breathing deeply or encountering cooler/moist air. I’ve also been feeling shaky several times a day, and from time I’ve been getting hand tremors: it’s this last which I’ve had most difficulty in accepting with any degree of calmness. So to find that maybe, just maybe, the lymphoma has gone may be a great relief, but only if it actually has. Anyway Dr Taché’s office is now involved in the usual discussions with our health insurance provider to get approval for the scans, and so there’s the tension of will they approve them or won’t they? Clearly time is of the essence as I need to have these scans done and the results evaluated and back with Dr Tache within a fortnight and I know that the last time we went through this it was touch and go. Of the scans the most important is probably the one which will reveal any damage to my lungs from the bleomycin as there is the possibility that the cough etc are the result of damage from that drug. If there is excessive damage then the bleomycin will be dropped from any future treatment – hence the need to get the results before the next infusion. It won’t be replaced by any other drug. The protocol says to just carry on with whatever other drugs are being used so that will be AVD instead of ABVD.
How do I feel about all this? On one level I’m trying very hard not to feel anything in case it turns out that although the lymphoma has shrunk it is still there in hiding, or that the sweats indicate that it has metastasized and we should be looking somewhere else, in which case the treatment may not be working and we might have to change treatment which I think would be a huge blow to my moral. On another level I am desperate for good news. I know that the infusion before this one has caused me to react more strongly than any of the previous ones and I therefore want to believe that it is kicking the lymphoma as hard as it possibly can, but, another part of me thinks that maybe, just maybe, the lymphoma is fighting back and causing the effects rather than them being side-effects of the chemo. I don’t know what to think really. Maybe I’m like a young child on Christmas Eve, knowing I’ve been good all year and hoping that I’ll get that brand new shiny bike from Father Christmas but aware that it costs a lot of money and that not all little boys can get everything they really, really, really want just because it is Christmas.