Philly Trek # 10, Treatment # 6


October’s trek to Philly was hard, as I feared it might be. My initial treatment in this trial back in early June 2013 had been my most challenging and now I was returning after a 55-day break. My body might just resist fresh toxins being introduced with a loud “Hell No!”

I am now in the maintenance phase. I get the same chemo cocktail, at the same dose followed a day later by the same vaccines but now on a four-week schedule versus every three weeks. This sequence happens for three months and then I get tested to ensure there is no disease progression requiring redirection into Phase Two. I hope to do this maintenance phase for at least the nine months for which we have the needed material (my tumor to mix with my dendritic cells). But I also hope the next eight months are easier!

My flights presented some sleep challenges – I arrived at 2 a.m. I awoke again at 7 a.m., very little sleep for this delicate unit. The chemo infusion was full of delays. I returned back to my borrowed condo, crawling into bed at 7 p.m. feeling tired and off. I awoke at midnight to blinding head pain, stumbled to the bathroom and preceded to vomit for the next twelve relentless hours.

The Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, no doubt, was glad when I finally left town. My walk through downtown for the next day’s treatment included stops for further retching. I like to imagine I cast an elegant figure in my red boots, stylish skirt, tucked behind a well-placed Canada Dry delivery truck, sitting on a planter wall, leaning over as if fascinated by some plant discovery quietly voiding my quite empty stomach. I didn’t linger to ask. Once semi-stable, I continued towards my final treatments of this visit.

The vaccines were a piece of cake, thank you. I felt too lousy to exert extra energy to tense up in anticipation of the needle’s journey. When I was officially done, the team decided to infuse me with saline to replenish my fluids making the long flights home less burdensome to my depleted system. Since I was all about sitting anywhere, another shift in a chemo lounge chair seemed most divine.

Trek number ten ended with me home in my own yummy bed by the early hours of the next day. It was all just fine. But no photos or extras for this post.


14 responses »

  1. Dearest Marcy – I am imagining being alone with the flu (the only experience I can use to relate to your helpless retching) and I wish there was some way to share your real burden in some substantive way. Walking with you, sitting with you, holding your hand or your head… Is there any way you can feel the comfort of me? Of us who read your stories and wish…
    I also want to say thank you for bringing me into your life in this very real way as you share your adventures and your pain in your writing.

  2. And I thought I had it bad! I know you’re probably feeling pretty wimpy right now. but remember that you are ONE TOUGH BAD-ASS FIGHTER and I hope this struggle gives you some semblance of your real life back. If only the universe was fair, I’d say you’ve earned it.

    Roz sends her best wishes and her admiration.

    Love, Bev

  3. Hello Marcy,
    I started a REPLY and it just vanished as I was typing it. I have no idea why! I read every one of your updates through the website but do not always reply online as half of the time, I am like a senior citizen who has trouble navigating through it.

    I do better with email. Hell, my memory medicine should work better!!

    I LOVED your comment “YES!” It is wonderful to be back in my own yummy bed after the 10th trip.”
    YES!!!Yummy beds are always a gift……24-7, 356 days in the year.
    Every night that I crawl into bed, I am thankful for it and the comforrt it gives me.

    love, kisses, and thinking of you and family.

    Louise Rickard – Forest Grove

  4. Oh, dear girl, my head is spinning trying to absorb what you wrote. I am taken back to one of my chemo treatments, when I was puking into a trash can and having the most awful diarrhea … simultaneously. Fortunately, I was on the toilet. (We girls can talk here, right?). I was home, not 3,000 miles from home. I hope you can proceed through all this with minimal discomfort.

  5. Dear Marcy,

    I really have a lot of admiration for you, you’re a woman of great strength & grace. Wishing you all my best hopes for a successful treatment.

    Take good care,

  6. I never barfed for that long, but I did have a spell that lasted almost half as long (or so I remember it). I was finally able to stop the contractions when Kate came up with a chewable Dramamine. Don’t know if you’re allowed to take such stuff or if it would help but, like all the other self-focused people in the world, I thought I’d pass it along. xo

  7. Forgive me dear Marcy, but you made me laugh as I followed you through the streets of Philly.
    So glad you’re back home. love you much, carol

  8. Dear Marcy,

    Today I listened to a TED talk by Rita Charon…..a physician and an educator at Columbia University…. who started the Narrative Medicine program at Columbia. Her talk is based on her book entitled “Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness”. In listening to her, I couldn’t help but think about the incredible privilege and opportunity that you have given us with your blog….livingly dying. Dr. Charon states that when we listen to each others stories…… particularly in the presence of illness…. it as if we “join together in a clearing” ….as in a forest. Thank you, Marcy, for providing us with such “a clearing”.


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