Today I got an email from a nurse at Kaiser reminding me that I am supposed to see my doctor to “revisit” doing four infusions of Taxol.  I had already discussed this issue with my oncologist and made a firm decision not to do it. 

However, the nudge from the nurse terrified me and made me again question whether I am doing the right thing.  Taxol would mean another three months of chemotherapy.  Taxol has a high risk of neuropathy and according to my oncologist, most of her patients who get neuropathy end up having it for the rest of their lives (aka it is often permanent).  Neuropathy can cause numbness in the feet and numb feet make balancing and walking pretty challenging. 

Taxol, according to some literature, may not even be effective in estrogen-driven cancers.  Simply said, I could end up with permanent neuropathy for a treatment that may not even have an impact on the specific cancer I have. 

So here we are.  One chemo left.  One last gamble. 

I am sticking with my decision to forgo the Taxol.  I am focusing on what I have done to beat this cancer. 

Let’s review, shall we?  I have had a breast removed, I have had nerve endings permanently severed, I have lost eight lymph nodes, I have had reconstruction, I have endured taking opiates, I have gone from node negative cancer to node positive cancer, I have cut my long, black hair to above my shoulders, I have taken chemotherapy three times and endured the absolute hell it causes, I have lost more hair and shaved my head, I have had a picc line inserted surgically and have endured its discomfort for two months, and most recently, I’ve started losing my eyebrow and eyelash hair, and in two more days, I will have a fourth chemo infusion.

I have fought hard to win this battle.  After Wednesday’s chemo, my fight will continue on for another FIVE years.  During those five years, I will take an estrogen blocker that will create menopausal symptoms a full five or six years before I should have to worry about them.  I will also have mammograms, blood work and follow-ups. 

I have a great prognosis.  I had a pretty good prognosis if I had only done surgery and nothing else.  I hope and pray this is the last gamble I have to take for a long, long time. 

Cancer is a bitch.  Why is it with a completely curable illness like strep throat, a doctor gives you an antibiotic and says take one every four hours for the next ten days?  If you stop taking it too soon, it may recur.  If you take the whole course, you’ll be fine.  With cancer, there is no cut and dry set of directions.  I have to make my decision, stick with it, and most of all believe in it. 

And I do.  Believe, that is.