Sometimes during the cancer experience things come up that throw you a curve ball. One such thing is being told you are going to go on a chemo break. Sounds like it should be cause for celebration, right? I was just given a “chemo vacation” and was immediately thrown into a panic.
Yes, it is fantastic to have the opportunity to give your body a respite from the side effects chemo causes. This latest round of chemo has lasted three years, a very long stretch by chemo standards. In that time my cancer has remained stable. The small mass in my abdomen has not changed or spread. Stability for three years is a great thing. Giving my body time to heal is a great thing. So why the panic?
For me, taking away the security blanket of the chemo is terrifying. Knowing my cancer has been in check while I have been receiving chemo has been so comforting. Could stopping chemo cause my cancer to spread?
Stopping chemo also takes away that feeling I have each month when I receive my treatment, that I am tangibly putting something in my body that is destroying my cancer cells, and holding everything at bay. That feeling of being an active participant, in tandem with the incredible support and friendship I receive from my chemo infusion nurse, will be sorely missed.
The flip side is that I trust my doctor, knowing that she has always had my back, has always treated my cancer aggressively, and has always guided me thorough this experience with tremendous knowledge and compassion. She is keenly aware of the emotional side of this journey. She realizes the consternation stopping chemo can cause. My case was brought in front of a chemo board, which resoundingly supported the decision to give me a chemo holiday.
For me, the nature of cancer is one that breeds the uncertainty of never knowing what lies ahead. The twists and turns of treatments and surgeries address issues as you go. There are no absolutes. This is one of the most difficult pieces of my illness. You have to accept that you don’t know what is down the road. You have to train yourself not to project, always a difficult thing not to do. Staying in the moment is what works for me, though it is not easy to do. Any change in treatment can cause tremendous worry. Accepting it and having trust in your caregivers are key pieces of weathering the rollercoaster that cancer puts you on.
So bring on the chemo vacation. I will continue with my scans, MRIs, bloodwork, and doctor’s check-ups. I am participating in a genetic study that will profile any gene mutations in my biopsies. So the work continues, the support continues, the care continues. I will work on getting stronger while I am on “vacation”. And I will celebrate this new chapter, keeping my fears in check and welcoming the opportunity to regenerate my body. Onward.
‘Til Next Time,