In consideration of the future, I have to plan in the present. Random and/or spontaneous actions/commitments are allowed, even encouraged, but given the recurring nature of chemotherapy infusions and the week-long side effects that follow, are not very practical.
As an example: Thanksgiving, Nov. 24 and Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, Dec. 24⁄25. According to my ‘present’ infusion schedule: four weeks, then five weeks, then four weeks, etc., barring semi-foreseen abnormal lab work results, which I will only find out the Thursday immediately preceding the Friday infusion, my next treatment will occur on Friday, Oct. 14. In and of itself, not a problem, other than the usual — with which I am, and perhaps you regular readers, too, are familiar. However, five weeks later my infusion occurs on Friday, Nov. 18 meaning I’ll be miserable, not-eating-wise the following Thursday, Thanksgiving (which if I had my druthers, I’d rather not be). Now should I pretend that’s not a problem for me? No. Following that potential holiday impact, my next alternating scheduled infusion occurs four weeks hence on Friday, Dec. 16, the week/Friday before Christmas Eve/ Christmas. Now if these holidays didn’t involve travelling, eating and socializing, and generally trying to be on my best behavior, maybe I could manage. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the reality.
Presuming/pretending that this schedule is not a problem is naive at best and extremely poor planning at worst. So what are my options? Well, I could always stop my chemotherapy infusions entirely until January, a “quality of life” alternative my oncologist has regularly encouraged. However, given the severity of my diagnosis/prognosis, I have always felt uncomfortable stopping treatment and as such, have never taken a break/brake. (Now, either I’m still alive because of it, or in spite of.)
Perhaps the solution is simply to reschedule my infusion intervals and still get treatment while manipulating my side effects/circumstances? If I reschedule my November infusion to occur four weeks after my October infusion (instead of five weeks), the date of that infusion would be Friday, Nov. 11, allowing more than enough time, nearly two weeks, to recover before Thanksgiving. However, switching my previous/original four-week interval to five weeks causes that December infusion to occur on Friday, December 23; not good timing at all. Worse in fact than my current schedule. But if I don’t alternate intervals and repeat that four-week infusion schedule (unfortunately losing a “quality of life” week in the process, a process that was intended to increase my “quality of life” weeks), then my December infusion would occur on Friday, Dec. 9, two weeks out from Christmas; perfect timing to allow for a semi-normal fortnight.
The net result is peace and relative quite. And by that I mean, other than advancing and increasing the number weeks when I’ll feel miserable (and won’t be eating), I won’t feel miserable for two of the most significant, positive-reinforcing, feel-good weeks of the year. And if there’s one, two or three things a cancer patient/survivor can’t get enough of, it’s days when you’re not in a daze and weeks when you’re not feeling weak. And after writing this column, and perhaps righting this ship, I feel pretty good about the next few months. It might not be ideal, but ‘ideal’ left the building a long time ago, on Feb. 27, 2009, the date of my original diagnosis.