Thursday, March 11, 2010
phase three: time to get moving
i feel like i'm wearing jet-shoes and flying through the air.
on monday, i went to see a doctor called sharon lewin up at columbia presbyterian. before we made the appointment, we had a great conversation about how i wanted to handle my care moving forwards. i really wanted a holistic, nontoxic therapy. i took the long subway ride from the bottom of the island of manhattan up to the top, thinking she was going to talk to me about alternative therapies, about diet, exercise and the effects of specific supplements.
after a 3-hour wait in a standard hospital room, she did the usual blood work, the physical, the vitals and then called me into her office. she said, "you look so much better than i thought you would. you really have made a great recovery. all those supplements and everything have really helped."
me: "thank you. i FEEL great."
and then she said, "so how can i convince you to do more chemotherapy?"
me: "um... if someone else does it for me."
sharon: "well, would you consider a hysterectomy?"
me: "but a hysterectomy doesn't guarantee the cancer won't come back."
sharon: "that's true because the cancer could be in your bloodstream already."
me: "so what's the point?"
sharon: "according to the standard protocol, if you had a hysterectomy, you'd be considered 'cured.'"
i finished by explaining to her that i really didn't need any more medical intervention but i appreciated her interest. she promised to get in touch with colleagues at other institutions to see what else might be out there. "the prognosis is good and the future is promising, but are you sure?"
yesterday morning, my doctor from msk called to suggest i see doctors in boston and london. she still wants to give me more drugs herself. what about sharon lewin?, i asked her. "oh, she trained with me," said carol. "you won't hear anything different than what i say."
in the afternoon, i was back up at memorial sloan kettering seeing a cancer-related psychologist to discuss how the cancer had affected my life and again, in the medical machinery, the sharp scent of disinfectant and medicine all around me.
back to the limbo of hesitancy, uncertainty and underlying fear.
today, i had a series of blood tests with the endocrinologist at the acupuncturist's office. ming jin also works at msk and has success treating cancer with chinese medicine. the results: my red and white blood cells are back to normal, i am only very slightly anemic, my blood pressure is back up to human speed and i've gained two pounds!
my post-chemo routine - acupuncture, fistfuls of vitamins (including resveratrol, tumeric, quercetin, shitake and reishi mushrooms, rosemary, rice bran, calendula, biotin, wheat embryo, vitamin D3 and omega-3), healing from penney leyshon, smoothies with ave, polymva and 3 packages of immunocal daily, all organic fruits and vegetables, no dairy, no wheat, miniscule amounts of meat and fish - seems to have done the trick.
but what was really amazing was how the news made me feel.
i'd just stepped off the platform and on to the train.
somehow being ill was like being caught in freeze tag. i was turned to stone.
spent 75% of my time sitting around in my pajamas researching the cancer, the drugs, the alternative therapies online. in between taking showers and getting dressed, i was chasing doctors, homeopaths, nutritionists, acupuncturists. i called friends and discussed my treatments while i made fresh vegetable juices, roasted cabbage and rutabagas, vegetable and fish soups. i wandered around the apartment in leggings and tunics because they were the easiest things to change in and out of in doctors' offices.
my main project was my body.
i couldn't seem to concentrate on much else.
but as i walked away from the endocrinologist's office, i was thinking about calling the plumber.
i am practically a normal functioning human!
i can go swimming without fear of catching a new virus, take pilates without feeling squeamish about the person on the mat before me, i can hug and kiss people without secretly wondering if they've got sore throats or colds.
i can think about work, bills, fixing the leaky washing machine, the stove that's hard to light, putting treads on the stairs.
my brain has switched gears.
how chronically-ill people get anything accomplished is incredible. and as the metaphysical oncologist said, "the right words from someone in a white coat can actually cause physical changes."
i am so lucky for having made it through the worst of the cancer at an accelerated pace.
still healing but for today, i feel SO much better.
thank you for all your help, my long-suffering supporters.