Earlier this year my oncologist suggested that I find out if HIPEC surgery was even a possibility for me before it got to be "too late." I went to the surgeons for a consult, and was told that chemo was "part of the package." I would have to have chemo before and after the surgery. I was never told that I wasn't a candidate. As a matter of fact, all signs pointed to "GO."
As a result, I reluctantly agreed to chemo. It was a nasty chemo. It is one of the nastiest. I felt horrid on it. I even had an allergic reaction to it, and wound up in the hospital for three days. It was pure-freaking-hell. I told the oncologist several times the only reason I was doing it was because it was required for the surgery. It was the ONLY reason. If there was some reason I would not be a candidate, I would stop chemo - immediately.
After the allergic reaction, he started me on steroids that I had to take before the chemo, and afterward - essentially "force-feeding" my body to take it. I also got steroids during my treatment. I gained 10 pounds in a very short time. I was so miserable.
As we got closer to when it would seem I would have the surgery, something happened. A number of surgeons sat down to discuss my case. Afterward I was told one of the surgeons wanted to meet with me. To my dismay, he told me several reasons I was not a good candidate, not the least of which was that I could lose a kidney. Another was that the likelihood of my being free of cancer after the hellacious surgery (provided I survived) was pretty much nil. Therefore, there was no point.
I was devastated. I was scheduled for chemo after that appointment, but there was no way in hell I was going. I was adamant about what I had said, and I stuck to it, even though everyone involved thought I should keep going as I seemed to be having such "wonderful" results.
What I still do not understand is what the heck happened. I want to go back at some point and say something, but I haven't. At the time I was too shell shocked, and needed to move forward somehow. What did not make the least bit of sense to me was that I was in "better" shape - in their terms - than I was when I started chemo. As far as I know, nothing was worse.
Why the fuck did they not think of those things they questioned after I began chemo BEFORE chemo?
Now. Add this to the fact that it is a few months later, and I now have shoulder pain consistently that I never had before. It could very well be due to inflammation. Chemo causes inflammation. In turn, inflammation can cause cancer. I can't help but second guess everything right now, as my tumor marker is up more significantly than it has been in the whole year I have been dealing with staying off chemo. It is only after getting on what seems to amount to "useless" treatment, that I am in some ways in worse shape.
I have had this gnawing feeling that treatment is why I am worse. I can't help but think of how I have heard stories about how chemo can have a negative impact. Did I really need such a messed up chemo? To listen to the oncologist, yes. I needed it to be where the surgeons needed me to be. We needed to be aggressive.
At the time it felt like the right thing to do, although I did have a moment when I looked in the mirror, saw my hair, and wondered if what I was doing would be for naught. It was almost an intuitive moment. I was nervous, but I still went forward, as given what I was told, it did feel like the right choice.
But now I am angry. I am angry that I did not seem to have been given the correct - or complete - information. I am angry because I wonder if I somehow opened the door to more cancer. I am angry because I feel pressured to go on chemo, or quite possibly die. I am angry because I don't feel like I have very many choices given I am without even basic survival funds.
I know one of the Stages of Grief is Anger. I have had my moments over the last two years of frustration and upset, but it has had to do more with the things around cancer, than cancer itself. I am not sure exactly what this is, but I think it is the closest I have come in regard to anger in relation to the illness.
I don't want to make decisions based on fear, but I am questioning what I have done so far, as I feel like I may have led myself astray. Can I trust myself going forward? Is there some reason I had to go through this? Did I make the choice so that I can live that reason?
I really don't have any answers, and the damn clock is ticking.