Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's a Blessing, and a Curse

We are big fans of the TV show Monk. In fact, the kids still watch reruns. And really, isn't there a little bit of Monk in all of us??? We are always repeating his phrase about different things that are happening - it's a blessing, and a curse.

That phrase is kind of how I've looked at this whole cancer journey. Only I would turn it around and say, "Yes, it's a curse...but mostly a blessing!"

Chemo #5 this week had it's cursed moments...but was still a blessing. Before each treatment, blood is drawn to check all my counts - white blood cells, neutrophils (most important infection fighters of the white blood cells), hemoglobin, and hematocrit. Chemo kills all fast growing cells, including blood cells that are produced in the bone marrow. Bone marrow suppression is the most frequent side effect of chemo and can cause the body to not fight infection, nourish tissues, or clot blood. Thankfully, my red blood cells (hemoglobin and hematocrit) have been fine. However, my white blood cells, especially my neutrophils, have continued to drop.

A normal white blood cell count ranges from 4.8 to 10.8 thousand. Before my first treatment, my wbc was 8.0. Then it dropped to 5.0, 4.4, 3.3, and 2.5. In relation to that, my neutrophils started at 6.2 and dropped to 2.4, 2.4, 1.6, and 1.1. My latest count was too low to receive chemo without a shot of Neulasta to increase white blood cell production. Without it, I'm too susceptible to infection that would probably land me in the hospital. Also without it, I would have to delay chemo and maybe even have the chemo dose altered.

After my doctor gave us the options, we went ahead with chemo #5 on Tuesday, and then I went back on Wednesday for my Neulasta shot. I was hoping to avoid it throughout my treatment because it can cause bone pain from mild to severe (depending on who you talk to). But, no pain, no gain - right! If it's hurting, it's working. And if it's what will keep everything on track and keep me out of the hospital, then it's what I need to do.

5 down, hopefully just 1 to go

So, back to cancer being a curse...but mostly a blessing.

Yes, cancer stinks, but...

  • the encouragement from family and friends is priceless! 
  • reconnecting with friends who are surviving and have survived cancer is invaluable!
  • my own growth spiritually is wonderful!
  • my husband and kids are the best cheerleaders!

Yes, chemo stinks, but...
  • it's killing the cancer... and I'm NOT PUKING!!!

Yes, the Neulasta shot is somewhat painful, but...
  • it's boosting white blood cells to fight infection!

Yes, I'm bald and hardly have any eyelashes, but...
  • the chemo is working!

I am one blessed soon-to-be cancer survivor! God is good!!!

So do not fear, for I am with you;  
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;  

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
~ Psalm 41:10

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