Make ’em laugh is a song from Singing in the Rain – I couldn’t remember it’s origin so looked it up and the choice is apt for two reasons. The first is rain. Today it’s been raining. Not light drizzle, spits and spots, or squally showers but full-on rain together with 70 mph winds. I’m getting slightly concerned because I’m led to believe the plagues of Egypt involved violent wind, flooding rain and a thick darkness in all the land for three days. That’s our current weather forecast and it sounds just a bit too hellfire and brimstone for my liking.
However, make ’em laugh is my theme for today and that’s because Thursday 22nd November was oncology day. I’m never sure how I feel about these appointments. My oncologist is a quiet studious chap, very bright but not terribly forthcoming. I think he’s a little on the shy side. A while ago I made it my mission to make him laugh every time I see him. It lightens things up for me and I hope in some small way it compensates him for doing a very tough job. Because he’s not the openly communicative type I have to think hard about how to appeal to his sense of humour but this is exactly the kind of challenge I enjoy. Break the ice and see what’s underneath.
Even if I’m feeling a little ropey, I make myself breeze into the oncologist’s office with a warm smile and a bold “Good morning Dr C, how’re you today?” I make a point of asking how he is as soon as I get through the door because I noticed many people don’t bother 😦 I also listen to his answer and I hear that it varies. I can get more than the Pavlovian “I’m well, but how are you?” response and I’m genuinely interested in how he is and how his day is going because behind the spectacles, the slightly weary look and the fervent note-taking he’s a human being coping with as many of life’s conundrums as the rest of us.
My make ’em laugh plan for today involved referring to the adjustment of my chemo cocktail as leaving me stirred, not shaken, being very grateful for Dr C’s expert tinkering in achieving a successful FEC3 and asking for even more expert tinkering to ensure TAX1 is allergic-reaction free. Sally the trials nurse was trying not to laugh but eventually asked if I was calling my eminent cancer specialist an expert tinkerer… to which I replied “yes and remember I have chemo brain so could easily have said tinkler, sprinkler or wrinkler.” Mission accomplished, it made them both laugh.
On to the serious stuff. As I’m a good chemo girl and my halo is shining brightly (around my knees) I get to have Taxotere next week. I also get an unexpected bonus. My echocardiogram highlighted that my heart is stout, strong and full of life and as I’m showing minimal signs of chemo wear and tear I’ll be allowed to combine my first Herceptin alongside TAX1. I advised I would expect tremendous amounts of expert tinkering if I’m to enjoy Dr C’s ‘connoisseurs choice Savoy Corpse Reviver’ without brandy, fernet branca or creme de menthe. He gave me lots of extra dexamethasone to start from Monday, hmmm yummy. On Tuesday I also enter into the Persephone trial and I’m very excited because I will have a new label – guinea-pig! By volunteering for the trial I hope to help many other women as well as kicking cancer where it hurts.
Walking out of chemo camp today felt like a very auspicious moment. I’ve done the FEC part of FEC-THis! On Tuesday I enter the THis part. Three more chemos and I’m back on the road to normality, whatever the heck that is. With herceptin starting alongside TAX1, I’ll be ahead of the schedule I’d anticipated. I might need to replan, rebaseline, rework the critical path. My milestones might be at risk…….. and I’m very happy about it 🙂