“After Winter, must come Spring. Change, it comes eventually.” – Lauren Hill
Please excuse the frequency of updates to this blog. We’ve been slowly adjusting to the weekly treatments, and we’re beginning to accept it as our “normal”. Today, Angie tackled her 5th Taxol treatment. Doctor Rogers has set the goal between eight and twelve treatments. The determining factor as to wether or not Angie makes it to 12 treatments lies within her own fingertips.
The winter we have endured is almost over. The Bradford Pear trees that shedded their leaves on the same day Angie was diagnosed have begun to bloom. The past month as been riddled with exhaustion, friends, family and plenty of rest. The Taxol treatment still takes a physical toll on Angie, but the side effects are nowhere near as serious as her previous treatment. Because of this, Angie is making it to work far more frequently, even managing to squeeze in full shifts once or twice. I have noticed she is capable of spending several hours out and about before her body begins to tire. We managed to make it to our first concert since treatment began. Zephaniah Ohora played a free set at the Nashville Palace in February, and we were able to attend with Sky and Natalie (who stumbled upon a nice table with four seats in the back of the room). Zep even took time to autograph a record for Angie; a huge victory for our beautiful cancer avenger.
When this process began, we found ourselves unsure of what lied ahead. We knew our lives would change, but we didn’t exactly know how. As surreal as it has been, we have found ourselves adapting to the change(s). The daily medication is now normal. The unexpected stomach issue is now normal. The sudden fatigue is now normal. Spending Valentine’s Day in a plastic surgeon office staring at photos of other women’s breasts is now normal. Cancer normal. We’ve accepted all of this as a regular part of our lives because we know the alternative to chemotherapy.
I wouldn’t be surprised if my wife is tough enough to make all 12 weeks of Taxol. The drug causes a tingling sensation in her fingers. The severity of this peripheral neuropathy will ultimately determine how far Angie can make it into the treatment. If the sensation becomes too painful in her fingers and/or toes, the treatment stops immediately to avoid permenant nerve damage. There’s no need to create more damage than the cancer has already caused. This new side effect has changed the way Angie functions, but ever so slightly. The Taxol also attacks the dividing cells that form her fingernails. So, bottle caps, cans, shampoo lids, sealed bags of food, and tabs of Benadryl are nearly impossible for Angie to open. I’ve tried to get in the habit of leaving caps and lids open in the bathroom, so Angie can operate uninterrupted in the mornings. I’d imagine losing a fingernail can be painful, so it’s important to make sure Angie doesn’t apply too much pressure to her finger tips during the next 2 months.
All of this is becoming far less abnormal. Still, I welcome the days when we can go about our lives without having to schedule oncology appointments. I miss the mornings when I wake up and know my wife is well, instead of waiting to see if she has the strength to get out of bed. And, despite her ability to make bald look sexy, I miss her beautiful head of hair.
Angie has been accused of bringing a lightheartedness to the treatment center. The doctor refers to this ability as “spunk”, something he says escapes many chemo recipients. I felt reassured that all of this has an end in sight as Dr. Rogers walked out of the exam room this morning. With one foot out the door, he turned to Angie and reminded her of one thing:
“You’re doing better than most.”