The Strategies of War

Wednesday: “Hi, Miss Smith. Dr. S would like you to come in for a follow up appointment tomorrow at 11:30.”

I hung up the phone, notified my people, then proceeded to melt into a pile of tears. Time to discuss the strategies of war.

Enough crying. I wrapped my anxiety in a warm shimmering blanket (Xanax).

It was Brian’s day off. The sun was out. I had finally stopped crying. We decided to play “normal”. We ran some errands then went on a little joy ride. We always end up driving through our dream neighborhood. Horses. Acreage. Trees. Quiet. My favorite house in the neighborhood has a small pond, around which miniature horses roam. Today they happened to be close to the road. They were reaching their miniature necks to the other side of the fence trying to eat the grass (the grass is always greener on the other side, even to horses). “I want to pet them! Do you think the owners would care?” I asked. Brian pressed the button so my seat belt came off. I got out and pet their little heads and backs. I don’t know what it is, but miniature horses are magical. They seemed to give my Xanax a little boost.

Thursday: My entourage and I go to Dr. S’ office. Dr. S is conservative, aggressive, and quite stern. She does not coddle or sugar coat. I took a Xanax before we went.

The doctor came in and almost instantly insisted that I take chemotherapy. My oncotype is a 21, intermediate range for distant recurrence. Not awful, but not where we’d like it to be. Plus, there’s my age and we have no research about 29 year olds.

Here we are, sitting in the middle of the war zone. The bombs are exploding (“we need to prevent this from coming back because if it comes back anywhere else in the body it’s stage 4 and I can’t fix that”). The bullets are whizzing past our faces (“I think we need to hit this and hit it hard”).

After dodging the BRCA bullet and the sentinel node bullet, a bullet finally hit me in the arm. The chemo bullet. Oh well… I guess I can live with a wound like that.

We all prayed for the oncotype to be low, but everyone prays for that sort of thing. God can’t give you everything you want. If that were the case, nobody would have chemo, or even cancer for that matter.

Dr. S likes to take the most aggressive approach. Her recommendation is 18 weeks of highly toxic, strong chemo. The side effects are scary (small chance of heart problems and marrow problems, chance of neuropathy…). The other option is 4 rounds, 3 weeks apart, of slightly less aggressive drugs. Don’t get me wrong, chemo is chemo, and less aggressive is still aggressive, but as Brian puts it, we need to make sure we aren’t trying to kill a fly with a cannon. I need to decide what course of treatment is right for me.

I guess I never go into those war zones with proper protection because I always leave in a fog. Emotionally and mentally drained. Ears ringing from the blasts of information. Scarred by fear.

I have a second opinion on Tuesday. From what I’ve heard, this doctor is the warm and fuzzy type. The type that gets down in the trenches with you. Maybe she will be a better fit for me, or atleast help me to better understand the strategies of war.


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