Sunday, October 23, 2005

Cautiously Optimistic

After waves of bad news throughout September and October -- interrupted only by our wedding -- I'm happy to report a plateau-ing of sorts. I wanted to wait a little while lest it was a fluke, but steady progress over recent days show a trend. It started out rocky, but last week David's health improved by leaps and bounds:

- an appetite, although still small
- nausea has subsided
- fatigue lessened; longer bursts of energy

David had some milestones, too:

- a restaurant dinner
- driving
- a trip to the store
- a trip to the park
- a trip to the cinema
- Sunday brunch

David still has some nausea, a lot of fatigue and ongoing pain, but it's definitely an improvement compared to the week prior. His weight is finally holding, he's cracking jokes, and we can have conversations without painkillers sending him off to the Land of Nod mid-sentence.

His appetite has made a marked improvement -- he gets cravings. It's like living with a pregnant woman: one day it's for egg rolls, another day it's for lox and bagels, yesterday it was sweet gherkins. I wish there was a 24-hour grocery store like in my Vancouver neighbourhood, but I've been able to indulge David's cravings in short order so far. As long as it's not for anything like foie gras, I can manage with Gerrity's, our local staples shop.

I've been so amazed I've kept quiet about it in case it didn't last. Granted, chemotherapy resumes on Tuesday, so I'm anticipating some backsliding. We saw the oncologist last week to discuss David's present condition and check if he was well enough to resume chemo. They took his blood, and the results show the counts are back to normal.

Relief. As much as I dread the side-effects of chemotherapy, the alternative is... not a viable one. We must persevere, come what may.

The approach to chemo, however, has changed in light of how quickly David became ill after the last combination dosage. The frequency, dosage, and treatment itself will be altered, and hopefully it will be effective without debilitating him. David has at least another month of treatment to go on this chemotherapy drug, and then another round of scans to gauge its success. In the past week David hasn't felt any new pain, so no plans for radiation, just continue with chemo for now.

Even in 2005, with millions spent on cancer research, there is still a great deal of educated guesswork left to the doctors -- treatment is specific to the individual -- and we have to trust they are doing their best. Our doctor is a very well-respected oncologist with multiple degrees in oncology, hematology, and internal medicine. He's also the same age as David.

When we're at the clinic, surrounded by the elderly, my mind wanders to thoughts of -- 'We don't belong here, we haven't lived our lives yet, had kids, grandkids, retirement... we haven't even had a HONEYMOON.'

I think the doctor understands our future is very much in his hands. It's a huge responsibility.

So, I remain cautiously optimistic.