Today was another day of waiting. This morning the doctors confirmed that they are looking at a potential three cycles of treatment (not two) with a scan after the second cycle to see how things are progressing. To be honest, we will know if the treatment is having an effect because the lumps in Janine’s neck are increasingly visible and they will presumably shrink.
This afternoon we sat around reading the paper, eating sweets, checking out the Lakelovers brochure, checking out facebook, checking texts, taking in a change of scenery and sipping Assam tea from paper cups in the ground floor café - generally just killing time. I also read through an essay from Ellie on the homoerotic and tragic flaws in Thomas Mann’s ‘Death in Venice’. We have clearly come a long way since ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’.
Just as I got on the train to come home, Janine txted to say things were underway. I need to get my head round the names of the drugs. There are three actual chemotherapy drugs; Ifosfamide, Carboplatin and Etoposide. Hence the regime is known as ICE. There is then a monoclonal antibody (hark me) called Rituximab – hence R-ICE. It looks like Etoposide is coming down the line first.
Those of you who remember how sick Janine was last time will understand that she desperately wants not to feel so unwell this time around. It was something of a setback therefore to call her a few moments ago and find she is already feeling unwell as one of the anti-sickness drugs may have been given to her too quickly. She is also getting a few heart palpitations so her PICC line needs to be checked out. Tomorrow could be a tough day.
A couple of my wonderful, wonderful colleagues at CAP had some great visual images of what we want the chemotherapy drugs to do. One saw them travelling through Janine popping the cancer like balloons. The other saw a Pacman chomping through it as only a Pacman could. Wild and wacky - but helpful imagery to us in praying.
There is something bubbling under in me about how we talk about levels of difficulty in life, comparisons with the experiences of others and gratitude. I want to call it ‘I shall not complain’ but it is for another time.
Over the last few days, I have been trying to put myself in Janine’s position – and the position of anyone undergoing any chemotherapy. What must it actually feel like to know that such powerful and, in themselves, life threatening drugs are being pumped into your body ? You know you have no choice if you want to be cured, yet you know you are going to feel very unwell before you feel any better and that any infection takes on a whole new level of seriousness.
I hope I would have the faith and the courage and the perseverance I see in Janine. I know where it comes from. I suspect you do as well.