Cancer: The Part-time Job I Never Wanted & Can’t Quit
Cancer is like a part-time job I never wanted in terms of time commitment. The perks are terrible too; it pays in death threats and I can’t just quit if I’m unhappy with management decisions. I’m sure anyone with chronic health issues can relate, but the time it takes to schedule appointments/treatments, reschedule appointments/treatments, attend appointments/treatments, get blood work, and manage all of the above adds up quickly and puts a significant dent in the amount of time I have to focus on other items. The sheer volume of crap I have to do to “have cancer” can be overwhelming sometimes. In all honesty, it takes a fair bit of organization and management skills to keep this whole treatment thing on track and minimize disruption to my personal and professional life.
Let’s use this week as an example. I received my most recent chemotherapy treatment last Friday (see blog here for an update) and did not anticipate having another doctor appointment for 3 weeks until it was time to touch base for my next chemo treatment. However, chemotherapy is not the only “treatment” I receive. In addition to my treatments meant to fight cancer (i.e. the chemotherapy), I also receive treatments called “maintenance” treatments. Generally “maintenance” treatments are meant to “maintain” your health, but not actively fight Cancer. In my case, I receive quarterly infusions of what they call “bone glue” to keep my bones strong.
You may recall I had my ovaries removed last December because my type of Breast Cancer grows in response to Estrogen, which is created by ovaries. Because of my Cancer, doctor’s would like to minimize the amount of Estrogen in my body. However, Estrogen also serves positive purposes like keeping your bones strong. Since I no longer naturally have Estrogen in my body, I receive a treatment for this (in addition to calcium supplements).
I was initially scheduled to receive the “bone glue” treatment at the same appointment as my chemotherapy last Friday. However, both medications are hard on the kidneys so my doctor decided she did not want them both given to me on the same day. This means I have to schedule another appointment, with another IV infusion, for another day this week and get blood work the day before said appointment. In many cases, I can’t help coming back and forth to the hospital 2-3 days in a row to get everything taken care of in proper order and timing. Today I spent about 1.5 hours traveling to and from the hospital just for blood work and tomorrow I will be back for the actual “bone glue” infusion.
In addition, I’ve finally made the decision to get a Port. A “port” is essentially a semi-permanent medical device placed in your upper chest/shoulder area that allows nurses easy access for an IV line. I’ve resisted because of the semi-permanent nature; it’s there every day to remind me of Cancer and potentially cause soreness/discomfort. The ability to remove a standard IV when you’re done with the treatment is appealing in this sense, but it’s getting harder for the nurses to find a suitable vein. Instead of having them dig around my arm with needles (which makes my stomach churn just writing – did I mention I still hate needles?), I’ve decided it’s time to be done with it and get the port.
This week has been a particularly unanticipated busy week with my part-time job, Cancer. Tomorrow I will be at the hospital most of the day getting both the port put in and receiving my “bone glue” infusion. This will include waking sedatives, but I will not have to go under full anesthesia. Neither item is complex, but please keep me in your thoughts that everything goes as planned!