Saturday, April 23, 2011

Come to the *Other* Rome Blognic: both cancer treatment AND blognic still on

Attention fellow-bloggie nerds:

I thought I would let you know what's going on. I want you to know first off that whatever plans you have to come to The *Other* Rome Blognic [Pssst... sign up now!] are are still emphatically on. OK? So, no cancelling flights or anything crazy. We're still on for all plans.

The situation with the cancer treatment has changed quite a bit, however, and my own situation is going to be quite a bit different from what I'd hoped. I knew at the start that this blognic idea could easily be interrupted by my treatments, so I'm still determined that everything will go forward.

The doctors have agreed to consider a different treatment involving two short courses of combined chemotherapy.

After insisting pretty hard that the best thing was a complete hysterectomy, and watching me melt down completely at the thought, they offered me an alternative, non-standard treatment. The idea is to shrink the tumour, which is currently at stage 1B1 -leading to 1B2, using this short, sharp chemo course. If the tumour responds, it will be operable with a much less radical and life-changing surgery which will come after the chemo. Normally, this stage of cancer is treated mostly with surgery, but I was very insistent that I want to do everything I can to preserve myself intact, or nearly.

I'm quite grateful that they are willing to give this idea a try. It is a fairly new idea to do chemo prior to surgery for this stage of cervical cancer and I have spent the evening reading the medical literature and all I have seen is that it significantly improves things, both in terms of long-term survival and immediate reduction in complications. The Gemelli is an excellent hospital indeed, the leading cancer research hospital in Europe and they said that they are willing to try.

It won't be fun, but chemo doesn't last forever, and hysterectomy does. It's no joke either, though most of the medical profession regards it as nothing worse than having wisdom teeth out. They regard it as nothing more than a baby-pouch. This is a position I emphatically do not share, and the reading I have done has convinced me that the best thing is to avoid it unless there are absolutely no other options. We are not marsupials and the uterus does a lot more than that throughout a woman's life.

I told them that I would agree to a hysterectomy but only if it were definitely proved to be medically necessary.

This will be a much longer and more complex treatment, but I'm happy that they have shown a willingness to try harder to save as much of my insides as they can.

So, it looks like chemo after all, but I'm ok with it. They said it won't be long and that two rounds will be sufficient to tell them whether it will work. They even said the chemo course will be so short that my hair won't fall out (probably).

The chemo will be very intense, though, and from what I have read a combined chemo regimen will knock you out of activities for quite a while and can have some pretty stern side effects.

This means that for both the Vatican conference and the Scholar's Lounge Blognic, I will either likely be in the hospital or at home asleep on knock-out drugs and/or too sick to move.

I'll be there if I can, but I might have to join the throngs huddling around their computers for the virtual version.

So, on yer bikes and we'll have as much fun as we can.



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