The University of Cancer, Part 3

Ready or Not, Here I Come.
Ready or Not, Here I Come.

I tried to get ahead of spring in late January. I prepped my flower beds with bags of topsoil. I stirred the mucky surface saturated with winter rain. Then, I got sick. One acute upper respiratory infection after another slowed me down. These, paired with a harsh treatment regimen for my cancer, made yard work difficult. 

Spring doesn’t wait. What is done, is done. I make amends for the delayed dreams of January. I’ve ordered flowers. I’ll plant a couple of tomatoes in the sunniest spot. I hired out the pruning of the burning bush hedges, the laurels, and lilacs. I fertilized the lawn. This is how I play catchup. Though spring raced away in unfettered growth, it left behind a fertile path to follow.

M-Protein is the best marker for tracking progression in MM. Zero is normal.
M-Protein is the best marker for tracking progression in MM. Zero is normal.

As to that pesky cancer: it has an uncanny similarity to spring with its desire to grow, grow, grow. The drugs act like weed killers. Its tendrils wilt and the cancer retreats to the roots. Along with it, though, my quality of life declines.

For weeks, I lamented, “I am so tired of being so tired.” Finally, I had to admit the drug I’d switched to last July was too strong. It worked, but I paid a price. I insisted on down-dosing in March. At first, the lower dose seemed to alleviate the fatigue and weakness. Halfway through the month, though, the doldrums re-appeared. Viruses poured through the sieve of my immune system. These, along with anemia and increased neuropathy in my feet and hands, depressed me. Each week, I was either a zombie or a steroid junkie: dull as a stump or perky with ADHD.

So, I declared a cease fire. I stopped taking all meds. I’d had enough. I needed to come up for air. Phrase it however you wish, after six plus years on the teeter-totter of various regimens, I’d forgotten what it felt like to be me.

White Paper Birch Shedding its Skin
White Paper Birch Shedding its Skin

I informed the new oncologist, Dr. B, via email. The timing works, as he arrived to practice at Providence, Hood River in March. At last, our country hospital will have the services of a full-time oncologist. Dr. B and I can start from scratch to work on another way forward. 

Several options exist for MM patients in my situation. They come with unique side effect profiles and a paragraph or two of small print dangers. Thus far, until now, I have breezed through the treatments, tolerating each change. I still believe a more balanced plan, suitable to me, can be found.

More numbers in The Drill.


5 thoughts on “The University of Cancer, Part 3

  1. Hi John –

    So sorry to hear about this turn of events. Totally understand your decision and hope you are already feeling better. May a new regime with a new doc offer a better option.

    Janet. (See you n June)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I sure hope the new treatment works out well. I totally understand the need to just quit everything and start over. Your garden will be more than splendid, no matter what.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. From the Janet of SSFHS: Take care, John. Spring is glorious and gives us hope. I hope you regain strength. I am particularly touched by this sentence: “Each week, I was either a zombie or a steroid junkie: dull as a stump or perky with ADHD.” The images are brilliantly alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I despise this word “cancer”. It causes many changes and makes you lose time with what is precious to you. Many prayers for you- Tired of being tired is such a true statement.


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