This is my reality. Every 3 weeks I go in for what I call “the drip”. Sometimes, when things are “progressing”, I get the stronger drug, Kadcyla, which kills cells. Then I need the accompanying benadryl and steroid to make sure that my body doesn’t have a reaction to the poison being poured in. Other times, when things are looking good, I’m just on the maintenance drug, Herceptin, which marks the cancer cells so that my own immune system can get rid of them.
So far so good. I’ve been at this for more than 4 years. When I was diagnosed with metastatic Breast Cancer 4 years ago (September 2012), my chances to live 5 years were at about 20%. That dropped considerably when the cancer showed up in my brain. So I’m beating the odds. I am still responding favorably to the drugs, and the drugs are getting better for HER2+ metastatic Breast Cancer. This is the kind of mBC that I have.
I’ve gotten so used to this routine that I consider myself almost normal. Almost. I have side effects that sometimes I accept and sometimes I don’t. The fatigue is the worst, followed by weight gain. Last night, in the middle of a sleepless night, I had a difficult conversation with Jesus (of all things). I teeter between Yes, OK and flat out NO.
On the plus side is a kind of moment to moment astonished awe that I am alive. If I pay attention, I can almost always find it. I know the magic of looking up to the sky, into eternity. I do it almost every time I walk outside.
Yesterday, at the drip place, a lot of the people sitting around me looked very sick. This isn’t always the case. The people are always changing. Most people are either asleep from the benadryl, or fiddling with their phones. I try to bring a book. For at least 2 hours, I know that I’ll be in the chair and it has become a kind of time out for me. But one man, yesterday, an older man, was paying attention. He watched everything going on around him. I watched him. Occasionally our eyes would meet and we would quickly look away from each other.
I found myself intensely curious about this man. I would have liked to talk to him, but that is not easy, both because of my inability to hear well across a room and the nature of the setup. Everybody else hears everything. I hope that I see him again next time.