Chemo #4 update—Now back at the Prince Polonia after chemo #4 in Room 215 of the brand new wing at Dharamshila Cancer Hospital. On day #1 (April 26th) we celebrated Carolyn’s B-day in my hospital room—Jen rounded up a delicious chocolate cake complete with ‘digital’ candles numbers 4 & 9. Naturally we shared the cake with all of our favorite hospital staff—Jinsi & JoJo the nurses (JoJo is a man… and yes we sang him the Beatles song—but with new lyrics) and Bajaj the dietican who always wears stunning colored kurtas under her white coat—this time bright orange with dark green print.
New CA-125 number is 7.48 -- down from 903.18 on 2/19 and 225.98 on 3/14 then 20.4 just 3 weeks ago. Very good news.
Same day I had a fresh CT-scan which showed significant improvement in my ovaries & liver. The fluid that was in my lungs and surrounding my heart is gone.
Carolyn stayed the night and we awoke the next morning to the unique sound of 20 foot long sections of bamboo (scaffolding) being tossed from the top (4th floor) of the building past our window on the 2nd floor to the ground below. Each piece had it’s own special sound. Jen came with a packed lunch from the Nepali cook, Dilbahadur, at the hotel. He put a message on the napkin that said “Happy Nice Day” which we think meant “Have a nice day” like he has heard us say—but we like his version better.
As expected the decisions on the direction of treatment had to be made. The surgeons recommended treatment plan was to go in and do exploratory surgery to look for and cut out any possible cancer ‘seeds’ that may be too small for the Ct scan to show. The statistics show that women who have the surgery generally live cancer free 3-4 months longer than women who do not have the surgery. I have at this time declined the surgery and so my oncologist, Dr. Sandeep Rajan, is recommending a continuation of the chemotherapy up to 6 months which I am aiming for-- as long as the neurotoxicity factor in my hands and feet does not become severe enough to keep me from working or walking. Chemo #5 is currently scheduled for May 17th.
At this point I am feeling optimistic despite the fact that this type of cancer has a tendency to be recurrent with or without surgery. After the chemo I will be focusing on rebuilding my immune system to keep the cancer from returning. I look forward to this stage. It will be a lifelong process. I will of course also be monitoring my CA-125 levels all the while.
I’m told the statistical prognosis at this juncture is a 30 percent chance of living up to 5 years – that’s up from only 15 percent chance of a 5 year extension when I first arrived at the hospital. Will do my best to exceed the statistics as I still love life and have a lot of walking to catch up on.
So still and again—thank you my friends old and new—for helping me to get to this point. I’m so pleased to not be dead!— and am happy to be making art again—actually worked a full day today! Still bald as hell-- gotta henna tattoo on my head. Still skinny but not feeling so frail as before. Still and ever indebted to you all!