Last time I wrote I was a mess, filled with anger and tears.. I’ve been little calmer now. I’ve come to a few decisions and few more questions since then. Making the choice as to how to proceed with treatment for leukemia, whether it being with western medicine, holistic medicine or both was ultimately my choice. Though outside opinions definitely helped me feel less alone and more informed. I brought my friend and family to hospital meetings so they can absorb information, aid in research and help without me having to re-explain things. So here’s the update:
First I asked my hematologist (doctor specialized in blood disorders) a little more about the first drug (Blinatumomab) he wanted me on. Besides being immune enhancing, it’s actually a specific antibody that destroys leukemia cells. It’s been studied and seems to work best on those that have residual amounts of disease. There has also been a few people in the hospital who’ve used it before and suffered minimal side effects like headaches and shortness of breath, but nothing too scary. He also emphasized that since this leukemia is acute it moves fast, meaning one week or even a few days can make a difference in cancer growth and the medicine would provide faster results.
Since my last visit with my Naturopath, both my doctors had been in contact to exchange information and opinions. They’ve come to an agreement that both therapies in conjunction with each other would be best. From what my Naturopath has explained, there’s documented proof that combining both holistic and western medicine together is more effective in healing than either or alone.
My main nurse from last treatment and now friend also put me into contact with someone who’s gone through 2 transplants from the same type of cancer. Meeting him made a big difference in relaxing around medical treatments. He made it seem as though the doctors over exaggerated the intensity of treatments to prepare me for the what ifs and it wouldn’t be anything I hadn’t already handled.
I definitely made the doctors nervous, lord knows I took my time making a decision, but I needed to feel calm, clear and confident in my choice. I had a lot of opposing ideas running through my head. On one side I felt if I didn’t go solely natural then it would mean I don’t trust myself, believe in natural medicine and would be hypercritical to my spiritual beliefs. It was also scary to think about taking pharmaceuticals, chemo, radiation and transplant because of possible side effects of course, but mainly that even though they’d destroy cancer cells all my other organs would be pushed and possibly damaged. This meant I’d need to start from square one again, which had been hard to accept since I feel healthy now.
On the other side I felt a relief that my naturopath agreed with my other doctor. I trusted her and felt safer knowing she believed taking the medication would be of benefit. Plus knowing myself I knew that going completely natural with this might mean I’d be controlling every aspect of my life in order not to mess up. I’d still be stressed and the underlying emotional issues I want to work on would be harder to approach, one being constant need of control.
So I decided to choose balance, combining western medicine, holistic medicine and implying all my spiritual beliefs in one. I thought this felt right and most logical for my case. I’ll let the medicine do it’s work at a faster pace while I use every ounce of knowledge I’ve acquired, keeping my body strong, preventing side effects and ultimately providing faster recovery. At the same time I can get over my fear of this treatment by facing it head on, and letting go of my need for control by putting all my trust into life. Being too restrictive with myself has never been the answer either, I need to live in a constant state of joy and freedom now more than ever. That might mean taking small trips, going out with friends, watching funny movies or even treating myself to something that might not be part of my diet plan once in a while. I want to take care of myself, but I also deserve to live and enjoy this life…which I believe is healing in itself.
Anyways the first week in the hospital was tough. I had another bone marrow biopsy done and lumber puncture test. I was put on things like fentanyl and some other anxiety drug so I could deal with the procedures. The medication was strong, I thought I passed out.. but apparently I was having full conversations about yoga, and how “I’d eat the shit out of Suzy q donuts and Indian food”. So I guess I was having a blast with that for a bit, but the after affects weren’t so great. The lumber puncture test takes fluid out of your spinal column, sometimes it can cause bad headaches since the fluid gets out of balance and if they hit a nerve it can cause other side effects. I was lucky enough that I had both happen. My lower back was in so much pain no matter what position I was in I felt a strong pressure and sting. Getting up to walk was dizzy the first 2 days and my head would throb when I sat up. I started the Blinatumomab when all this happened so I wasn’t sure if it was my body reacting to the new medication, lumber puncture or an overload of everything. Either way those side effects are long gone,aside for feeling more tired I’m actually taking everything very well right now and no longer need to sleep at hospital.
Now what’s sort of got me questioning everything is this… I had another bone marrow biopsy 2 days before I started the actual medication. It gets sent to two places here in Ottawa and then in Toronto to test for smaller residual amounts. When I was originally diagnosed this year the one in Ottawa showed 4 percent leukemia cells and the one from Toronto came back positive. Now my most recent biopsy shows no leukemia cells from the test in Ottawa, but still positive from the one in Toronto. Sooooo what the F*%k? One of my nurses explained that when they do the biopsy it’s like taking a pile of sand from the beach, you might get sea shells in one section and not another? I was also explained that the most important test is the one that came back from Toronto. But my minds just like ugh what if I was originally doing something right.. or else how can the cancer cells go away if they were only expecting it to grow ?Have I been lying and just trying to convince myself into feeling more comfortable about taking treatment? Did I just take the easier more socially acknowledged way out so I don’t feel crazy? Or have I made the right decision and now I’m just resorting to being paranoid and overthinking? Maybe I should just focus on my original perspective? Where’s my calm, clear confidence at now though? I just need to sit down with my doctors again before I go a little nuts and try to relax, take an Epsom salt bath, magnesium and some Rhodiola asap that’s for sure. Sigh I just want to have peace, open a little herbal/new age shop, help people, eat good and dance all day, why can’t life be simple.
One step at a time,
ps. I am very thankful for all the support I’ve gotten from doctors, nurses, family, friends and even strangers. Everyone is so kind and I’m sending sooo much love back <3