Slightly better news

slightly better news


Good news, first of all: my PET scan results have come in, and my cancer is confined to the left side of my throat; it hasn’t spread anywhere else in my body. (My hematologist / oncologist was actually giggling with excitement when she told me this. I think I love her.) This means that the radiotherapy can be focused very precisely in the area of the tumor, and I’m not so far along as to be incurable.

It’s barely two  weeks since I learned I have cancer, and I have learned so much!

For example:

  • One of the most effective chemotherapy drugs, cisplatin, is very dangerous for people (like me) with hearing loss. It can make us lose our hearing entirely, or cause lifelong tinnitus. I’ll be taking the milder carboplatin instead. (Imagine having a platinum-based drug infused into your body! I’ll be worth a fortune!)
  • Another, taxol (which I’ll be taking in low doses) causes hair loss and some neuropathy (mostly numbness and tingling) in some patients. I’ll be sure to take pictures of myself during the process, if I become especially shaky and peculiar-looking. You can all have a good laugh.
  • Radiation to the throat makes the whole area sore. I won’t be able to drink for the duration; it will sting too much, and probably also interfere with the various treatments and medications I’ll be taking. Bugger!

But mostly I have learned that this whole thing is ridiculous.

I look over my doctors’ scribbed notes and I see things like “tonsillar cancer.” I have tonsil cancer!

Ridiculous.

Feeding tube? Ridiculous.

No drinking for the duration of the war? Double ridiculous.

I think of Professor Remus Lupin in the “Harry Potter” books – one of my favorite characters – who taught his students to fight off boggarts (which take the shape of your most secret fear) with this spell: “Riddikulus!”

And he was right. Most of our fears are really ridiculous.

If I can just keep repeating that particular spell for the next three months or so, I’ll be just fine.


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About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

9 Responses to Slightly better news

  1. Diane Forbes says:

    Encouraging news! Yay! Love your oncologist, question everything. The Weeble effect from the neuropathy is temporary. A cautionary tale concerning Taxol if you tend to have unusual reactions to medication. MOST reactions to the drug (if there is one, very small chance of it though) happen immediately as the drug is first administered. I, on the other hand, was ‘fine’ during the first treatment but develop extreme leg pain two days after which then morphed into what was thought to be Petechiae. At the second treatment, I reacted to the drug dramatically – yep, anaphylactic shock-dramatic. Other than the flurry of activity that day around stopping the drug and clearing the line, etc., subsequent treatments were ok using a milder form of the drug. Thinking of you (bummer about drinking)! One day at a time…..Riddikulus!, indeed!

    • Diane – this actually makes me feel much better. I’m scared of the side effects, naturally, but it’s nice to hear that someone experienced them without lasting damage. I’ve repeated to myself several times over some of the things you told me two weeks ago, and they’ve been very helpful.

      And, yes, it’s a huge bummer about drinking. But, as my friend Joanne says above, I can pretend that it’s Lent. Which means that it’s Mardi Gras right now.

  2. starproms says:

    That is indeed good news Loren. I think you should be able to cope with that with a bit of encouragement 🙂

  3. Some good news!!! Hope the treatment is brief and life will get back to normal soonish. It sounds promising and I feel a sense of relief.

    • Hopefully, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christimas, I’ll be done with the treatment. Fingers crossed.

      Also bought a copy of some of the Sesqua Valley stories; there was a Lovecraft festival in town recently, and one of the participants was photographed holding a volume of Sesqua Valley stories. Two mentions of it in a week – well, that’s fate.

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