Monday, February 20, 2006

Margi and chemo

Latest from a visitor to Margi on Sunday Feb. 19th

she's looking frail, but good. for those who know her, the frailty
comes through. others are amazed by her vivacity: but that is her
usual state.

her mood is alright. her mind is very resilient, she's going over all
the options clearly and often with good, if dark, humor. she is
understandably nervous and jittery, but she is also able to compose
herself from time to time. that said, i'd say she's overall quite
fragile emotionally.

the doctor strongly suggested not waiting for more than one or two
days before starting the first round of chemo. there are two medicines
they will administer, if margi gives the go-ahead: carboplatin and
paclitaxel. they recommend taking three doses (one every three weeks)
and then getting tested to find out what the effects have been. there
are side effects, some potentially serious, to chemo. but the
alternative of going straight to surgery is unadvisable, as margi's
lungs and intestines have fluids and it would be impossible to rid
them of all the cancerous cells. the other alternative is, of course,
to refuse treatment.

margi is swaying on this issue. occassionally she feels she should
give in to the cancer. but she also feels too weak to get to a place
where she would want to die--up in the mountains, as she says. then
she also feels more optimistic, and feels that she can overcome this.
she is scared by the question of the quality of life she will have
under treatment, and would rather shorten the quantity of her life if
she could ensure better quality, or if the quality is assured to be
poor. when i left her, at the end of the doctor's consultation, she
was leaning towards taking the first dose of chemo, and considering
her decision as she goes. she is fiesty, and brave, and she kept
telling the doctor she wanted to reserve the right to refuse
treatment. he was impressed, i could tell, with her fearlessness. but
he was also firm about preferring that she take the chemo, and he was
even and optimistic, saying there is a 40 to 50 percent chance of

the kinds of things that would be most useful to margi right now are
money in her bank account and an administrative system in delhi
(i.e. someone to pay the bills, ensure that her daily needs
are being met).

the company of known friends would also be helpful. margi isn't a
phone person, but it may be helpful if some people she knows and
trusts call to talk her through the decision about chemo. she is frail
in the mornings, so it's best to call her after 10 am delhi time. in
the case that she decides, tonight, to go ahead with chemo, she will
be taking her first dose tomorrow around 11. so that is something to
keep in mind. also, the balance between her need to be alone and her
need for company is a tricky one. the decision to go ahead with chemo
or not is something she will need to feel out. in my opinion it would
be best if she could do so in the company of people she knows well (at
least over the phone). or maybe it would just be good for people to
let her know that they will support her no matter what.

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