The Beginning of the End of the Journey

Did I mention that I’m participating in a clinical trial? MM121 is designed to attack the protein on the surface of the cancer cell causing the cancer to DIE. Since I view cancer as a foreign invader in my body, I really like the idea of killing the cancer at its source. Yes, I know regular chemo will shrink the tumor, but hey, I may be wrong but killing the cancer and stopping it dead just seems like a much better plan of attack than merely rendering the unwanted beasty smaller. (Am I right or am I right?) MM121 is my friend and for the small donation of 4 teaspoons of blood every three weeks (well, there were those three little breast biopsies but we won’t go there right now!), I get this amazing cancer-slaying, butt kicking drug for 14 cancer-fighting filled weeks.

The only thing about being on a trial is that my insurance company, in all their infinite wisdom, will not allow the lab to draw the 4-teaspoons of blood for the trial at the same time they draw blood for what the insurance-gods consider the “normal” standard of care. Never mind that a single blood draw would be easier for me…fewer sticks, fewer trips to the labs, and less inconvenience on a body that is already overtaxed – the insurance-gods know best and so there it is. As a result, every three weeks I get to make an extra trip to the lab for blood work so we can keep “normal” and “trial” lab work separate and prove they were drawn at different times. This small little extra prick (or two or three depending on the phlebotomist) will continue until I start the last three week cycle of Taxol and MM121. It’s a small inconvenience and one which I’m glad to pay as part of the cost of getting the MM121.
Last week, I reached week 11 of chemo – the half-way point in this 22-week chemo journey. Tomorrow, I start the last three week cycle of Taxol and MM121. I went to the CPL lab this morning for my extra blood draw. That’s when it hit me – today was my LAST trip to the CPL lab for the extra blood draw. Wow! It may seem like a small thing to some but for me, the realization was huge and brought home the reality that I am truly now on the downhill side of chemo.

I know a lot of people who tell me they are cancer survivors but I didn’t know then when they fought their cancer battle. Of all the people I’ve personally known that had cancer, only one lived. Most of my friends died from side effects of the treatments and they never even got close to the finish line. It wasn’t a warm and fuzzy feeling to have going into this marathon. If the truth be told, I honestly had doubts – especially during those first weeks after diagnosis – that I’d ever make it this far.

But today, I was almost exhilarated as the truth resonated through me. I only have three more weeks of MM121 and Taxol. In July, I start four treatments (every other week) of the AC drug combo. Only seven more treatments and I’m DONE with chemo! Just seven little treatments and chemo is over. That’s amazing that the beginning of the end has come so quickly.

I AM on the downhill side. I AM doing this! I AM running the race. I see the finish line for this first leg of the triathlon (chemo, surgery, and radiation). The end of the race just before you reach the finish line is often the hardest – you’re tired, your energy’s depleted, everything hurts – but you see that finish line and nothing is going to stop you from crossing if you have to crawl over the finish line. At Texas Oncology, they have a bell that you ring on the last day of chemo. All the doctors and nurses come and sing and clap and cheer you on. That bell is my finish line and I can feel the rope in my hand. By God’s grace, nothing’s going to stop me from ringing that bell. I AM doing this!

© 2013. Mary Kyle. All rights reserved.

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