As I write this, I sit in a room at Princess Margaret Hospital waiting for my first dose of a new-targeted therapy. The one I had been on, the one that gave me almost five years, the one I had grown used to, stopped working well and now it is time to move on. Quite literally now. The thing is, I almost didn’t make it to my appointment today, a day I have been waiting weeks for, the day I have been scanned, biopsied, MRIed and ported for and it all almost didn’t happen. That’s because last night was a bad night.
It got so bad and scary for me that I almost called an ambulance. Almost. You see I have had this pesky cough for a few months now. I first thought it was due to seasonal allergies because mine have been raging all year. I tried dealing with it myself but since it didn’t get any better, my medical team is monitoring it and we have tried numerous things to try to get rid of it. It seemed to have worked until I came home from Chicago with a head cold and then it reared its ugly head again. This time worse, this time I strained my entire back coughing, this time so bad it made me projectile vomit, which made it scary.
I haven’t been scared in a long time, the last time was when I recurred and thought I was doing to die, but since then I’ve been ok. Last night being the exception. Last night I realized that this cough wasn’t what I thought it was, an innocent cough related to my allergies, or a head cold, but related to my cancer progression. It shook me. As I sat on my bathroom floor hacking gasping for air while I threw up all I could think of through the stabbing pain in my chest, ribs, and back was I’m going to asphyxiate on my own vomit and die…and this is how Patrick will find me.
When the vomiting stopped, I had a vasovagal reaction (a little thing that I equate to the feeling of having a mild stroke – you get weak, sweaty, feel like you are going to puke and shit all at the same time #Funtimes) that just ratcheted up my anxiety so I thought I should call an ambulance…but of course I didn’t, I calmed down and tried to go to sleep because damn it I’m getting my new drug tomorrow!! Sleep didn’t come easy though, I struggled with getting comfortable because my back was killing me and then I kept having thought fits. I must have managed a few winks because as the sun rose, Patrick jumped out of bed to wake me up; we slept through the alarm, Great!!
Bleary eyed I got into the car and down here an hour late, and another two hours waiting for blood, but finally I am here. I told the physician during our examination and again after mentioning the cough and the events of last night, he added fuel to what I feared most, that this cough is due to the progression. Nothing certain of course, but nothing to rule it out either. My body was betraying me again!! After all these years of learning to trust myself, learning to control my fears and take control of my anxiety all disappeared in one betrayal. Never in this whole time have I had a symptom of cancer, not in seven years! Now after all these years betrayed. How do I re-learn everything? The seed of doubt has been planted…what if this doesn’t work? What if this bloody cough doesn’t go away? Where do I start again?