I was under 10 when Dionne Warwick belted out her hit song, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose“. Clueless to meaning, I could carry the tune. Almost 50 years later it might become my theme song of 2015. A clinical trial in San Jose seems to have accepted me. My first forays into California have left me wondering if I am not destined to rediscover myself as a California (middle-aged) babe.
Four months ago I sent an anonymous appeal via social media to locate nice people in Marin County, California willing to adopt me – sight unseen. I could have been a stalker with crazy intent. My appeal went (semi) viral (http://livinglydying.com/2014/08/29/adopt-me-please-chemo-fanny-pack-included/) and, I was overwhelmed with offers. My every other week treks to chemo in Marin have become a highlight in a rather small life and a source of well justified pride for the local community. The local paper agreed to do a story and it came out on the front page the Sunday of last week.
(Saturday I had keened over my disappearance on LivinglyDying.)
What I didn’t imagine is the story would be my good bye to this stage of my cancer journey – every other week chemo in Marin County.
Monday night, November 24th, as I prepared for the start of chemo the next morning, my daily Google reader listed international media stories from the last 24 hours on ovarian cancer. A press release from San Jose caught my attention. http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/11/23/san-jose-hospital-pioneering-new-treatment-that-heats-kills-cancer-cells/ I recalled reading about this theory a few years back and hoping I could stay alive for its use. Little did I imagine that I might be among its first five patients!
Tuesday night my Marin host family and I spent and hour plus on the phone with the doctor leading up this new clinical trial. Wednesday, from my chemo chair, I started wading through the morass of details. Every day this week I have moved the ball forward at a dizzying speed – grasping the new trial risks and what it would require.
I would need to relocate to San Jose so that I could have surgery every 28 days and report in for weekly mandatory tests and exams. Before I could even figure out my next steps a zealous friend had me adopted by the parents of a wonderful colleague. (They pick me up at the airport this Monday to whisk me to the hospital for intake exams.)
While pushing forward admittance to the trial bigger questions needed to be resolved. Would I lose my position in the U Penn Part Two? (No, it amazingly turns out.) Was I truly in a dire enough position for such dramatic intervention? (Cancer showed additional growth in Thursday test results.) Starting this trial seemed increasingly self-evident. But then, swoosh, I was looking at dropping chemo this week, the 9th and 10th , and doing initial surgery December 17th. It sounded exciting until I realized I would have hospital visits December 24th and 31st. No, 2015 will be a challenging year to survive. I need to travel to Dubuque Iowa to see my mom not able to travel to me. I want a Christmas 2014!
So, my surgical start will probably be January 5th – reporting in for final pre-tests December 31st (grumble, grumble). The details of the trial sound sobering. But they are less sobering to this person undergoing 31 hours of chemo every other week. The prospect of getting my brain back is exciting – its been fuzzed up by drugs. The prospect of rebuilding, or less undermining, my body is exciting. I take seriously the risks of being under general anesthesia for four hours every 28 days and having all my blood removed and heated for two hours to a temperature of 107.6 but these details cause me minimal pause.