Well, the eighth chemo came and went with little fanfare. I know a lot of women paint their nails pink with the pink ribbon drawn on them, wear a pink wig and their best “I’m kicking cancer’s ass” T-shirt to their last chemo. They take smiling pics with their favourite nurses, get balloons and have little “No More Chemo” parties. When I started my chemo December 30, I figured I too would do something neat on my last day—which seemed forever and a day away at that time—definitely do a fab manicure, bring my best baking, maybe even give a little gift to my nurses to show my appreciation.
And what did I do on April 8th? Nothing.
Tessa came to meet me and spend part of the day, and Kelly came for a couple of hours with her signature gift bag of Real Simple and Martha Stewart magazines, chocolate-covered almonds and Lays potato chips, which I really appreciated. And ate. And read.
But the end of chemo made me feel exactly the way I did when Graydon finished his treatment for childhood leukaemia: we’ve lost our weapons. When you are on chemo, you are fighting the cancer. It may be poison, but it’s cancer’s poison too. Take away the chemo, and you’re not fighting anymore. You’re a sitting duck.
And that’s still how I feel. The side effects of the paxitaxel are worse this round, as they should be, since its effects are cumulative: six fingernails and lots of toenails look like they are rotting from underneath, the bone pain is excruciating between doses of dilaudid, nausea still requires pills, I am getting stupider and more forgetful and sadder, I sleep more and more. But as I clear the chemo from my body, those side effects should clear up too. And hopefully I’ve had a complete pathologic response to my neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and there isn’t much cancer left there to start the party up again as the chemo leaves.
Fingers crossed, St. Peregrine medal around my neck, red thread tied on my bra, I wait for my surgery.