Fresh off the high of an NBA dance team audition, I am reminded that I am also still a cancer patient. Yesterday I met with my Oncologist (Cancer Doctor) as a touch base before my next treatment.
As a recap, I have Stage IV (Metastatic) Breast Cancer which has treatments, but no cure. At this stage of the disease, the treatment approach is to use as little medicine (generally chemotherapy or targeted treatments – see Cancer 101 for more information) as possible to keep the Cancer from growing, hoping to give me as long a lifespan as possible. My Cancer is not particularly aggressive, but it has been slowly but surely growing despite treatment since last September. I’m on my third medication, a platinum-based chemotherapy given by IV, in this timeframe aiming to stop the Cancer’s growth and ideally kill what Cancer is currently in my body. Not all treatments are effective for all patients for reasons not well understood by doctors, so treatment is a bit of an educated guessing game and living with this disease requires managing a lot of uncertainty.
Now that we’re all up to speed, back to my doctor’s appointment and next treatment. The platinum-based chemotherapy I am currently on is generally given by IV every 3 weeks. Chemotherapy kills cells that multiply quickly, which is cancer cells, but also a lot of perfectly good cells. This is what causes the side affects including nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and suppression of the immune system. At my last treatment (updates here), I found out my blood cell counts, an indicator of the immune system’s strength, are low so I was prescribed shots to give myself to boost the immune system. Unfortunately, a few extra days and shots to boost the immune system did not get mine high enough for my treatment that was originally scheduled for today. Therefore, I have to give myself a couple more shots and check blood work again on Friday when I am hoping to receive my next treatment. A delay in treatment is not ideal, but I’m looking at the silver lining: a couple more days feeling well!
Assuming I receive treatment on Friday, I will not be feeling great over the course of the weekend and early next week. However, I’m also not bedridden and really need to go for walks to help myself recover. If you’d like to stop by and walk shoot me a text or quick note here. I’d love the company!
I’d like to conclude with some *exciting* developments in my advocacy work. In the last couple weeks I have interviewed with UC San Diego’s alumni publication, Triton Magazine, as well as the Vacaville Reporter. The focus of the interviews has been my Cancer Story, Ms. Vacaville win, advocacy work, and this blog which is use communicate updates on each of the former topics. My hope is that by sharing my story I will break stereotypes of a “Cancer Patient”, educate others on the need for a cure for Stage IV Breast Cancer, and inspire others to join me in advocacy and healthy lifestyle. This note is just a little teaser and as the articles become published, I will definitely share!