It’s not like I thought it was gone. I knew the cancer was still there, waiting, sleeping, biding its time. It had grown back once already in a small tumor again, in the original breast, but we cut that out a couple years ago. There had been no new metastatic areas, and treatment was successful in the original L5-L6 and lung nodule since the original diagnosis in 2011. Still, no matter how long it took, I’ve known it was just a matter of WHEN, not IF a new cluster of cancer cells would begin to gather. So after watching the mediastinal lymph node get larger and “hotter” over a couple of PET/CT scans, the oncologist and I have decided it’s time to add another treatment.
So the weekend of Chinese New Year, I started palbociclib, a once-a-day oral medication. I’m so familiar with my fulvestrant injections–two at once, once/month–which I’ve been on for years. I know what side effects to expect, and the pattern of appointments. As the admin of an online support group for metastatic breast cancer (MBC), I’ve read or chatted with thousands of women as they faced progression, and began new treatments. A common experience is uncertainty about what the side effects will be with the new treatment . Another uncertainty is “Will it work?” and if so, “How long?”. So here I return to an uncertainty which had faded through so many years of having very treatment-responsive breast cancer.
I have wondered how I would feel about progression when it finally happened. Apart from the uncertainty, I thought I might feel fear, or anger, or grief that the cancer has continued to spread. Yet I feel surprisingly calm with the way things are right now. I have some minor pain in the area, and a bit of a cough, both from the pressure of the tumor’s growth. I have begun to notice some mild nausea from the add on meds. Time will tell on the rest, as I’ll need frequent lab work initially to monitor my blood counts.
In this time of small uncertainty, I am reminded of the great certainty which continues throughout all my days. “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day”.