Apparently my body has given me an early birthday present, but it's not necessarily one that I really wanted. My cancer is back. This time it is in my spleen, which is one of the places that melanoma can go, since it spreads through the lymph system, and the spleen is a part of that system.
My last scan turned up a lesion/mass (I'm not really sure which it was. They have used both terms.) on my spleen. I had a biopsy Friday before last, which took most of the day. When they biopsy an internal organ, they take a long-ass needle and stick it in your side down to the organ in question. That needle is hollow and they shoot other needles down that one to collect the needed tissue. Of course, you are numbed and semi-sedated during the whole process, but it's still a little unnerving. After that, you have to hang around and doze and let the anesthesia work out of your system. I went in at nine and did not leave until four that day.
I got the results Tuesday: positive. I figured that was the way that things were going to go. My feeling was confirmed before I even got the news when they sent in the happy, gentle, kind of goofy older doc to give me the news. When everything is normal, you get the slightly smug, "I'm a doctor" dude.
I'll start treatment next week. Dr. Happy tried to paint a lovely picture about how easy this treatment is and how I'm just going to skip through daisies the whole time and ask for more when it's over. I know better. He said the same things last time. While it is true that there have been some great advances in the treatment of melanoma in the last several years, nothing with cancer is ever easy. There are just degrees of difficulty.
Speaking of treatment advances, the drug I was on last time were touted as having a 75% rate of non-recurrence up to five years after treatment. I guess I'm in the minority 25%. Figures.
Technically, my new treatment is not chemotherapy. It's a drug called Yeravoy, which is immunotherapy. I'm still going to have to go to the cancer center, spend a couple of hours there, get poked with needles, screw up my veins, then go home and have side effects, so it's pretty much all the same to me. Not fun is not fun, no matter what you call it.
This drug is supposed to stimulate my own immune system to fight the cancer on its own. One of the drugs I had last time was the same type of thing and it gave me chills and body aches and fever like you would not believe. It was like the flu on steroids. One I lay in bed under like a half dozen blankets, with Keith on one side of me and Kosh on the other and I was still shivering so hard that I shook the bed. I am not looking forward to that again. In side effect terms, they describe this as "flu-like symptoms." I call it "flu driving a Mack truck."
The other side effects are supposed to be similar to what I had before: some nausea, rashes, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Yes, the bricks are coming back. They call it fatigue. I call it "bone-crushing tiredness that will not go away." I didn't really have a lot of nausea last time. I hope that's still true. The fatigue is about all I can handle.
If this treatment doesn't work, then there's another new drug they can try. If that doesn't do it, then surgery will be a last resort. You really don't need your spleen as an adult. I'm figuring, based on my track record so far, that I'll end up under the knife sometime in the spring.
I know I sound bitter. That's because I am. I am fucking pissed off in fact. This shit was supposed to be over. That's what I drug my ass around for seven months last year feeling like I was going to drop at any moment in order to accomplish. I don't know if I will get over this feeling and, frankly, I'm not sure I want to. At this point, it's my anger that's getting me up in the morning. Otherwise, I'd be completely deflated.
This is only supposed to be a short run treatment--four treatments administered every three weeks. If it all goes as planned, I'll be done before Christmas. I just don't want the fatigue and side effects to spoil our wedding trip.
I have a lot to do this weekend to get ready for treatment to start. Both booths need to be cleaned and stocked. (Why did I open a second store????) I need to think more about work. I decided that I am absolutely not working on treatment days, like I did last time. It was just too much. I need to catch up on laundry and house cleaning. I need to pre-write some blogs and get this thing back to life. I'm not going to want to do some of that stuff once the fatigue starts hitting hard.
I don't want to do this. I'm dreading it, in fact. The whole ordeal of finding a vein for the IV is already giving me nightmares. They fried them all out with the chemo last time! Every blood draw and IV I've had since chemo has been torture. Sometimes even when they do find a vein it's so shot they cannot use it.
And I don't have Dr Kosh around any more to make me feel better. I'm just not sure that Chiquito is up to the task.
Fuck cancer. Fuck it hard.