May 24, 2019
How do you decide when to start treatment?
Do you wait until you experience symptoms from the cancer? For multiple myeloma, these could potentially include renal failure, bone lesions or anemia (including hyper hemolytic anemia — which nearly killed me in March 2012).
Or, do you start treatment before the symptoms manifest, when your body is healthy to go through chemotherapy?
That’s the position we find ourselves in. I asked Dr. Tiedemann point-blank what he would do if he were in my position. His response, “I really can’t say definitively. I can make a case either way.” My myeloma has a personality and a mind of its own. After it declared itself and made its grand comeback, it has started to behave and the numbers have remained steady over the past six weeks. Treatment or no treatment? Some markers lean toward starting treatment immediately; other markers suggest a “watch and wait” approach. We talked through the options with Dr. Tiedemann until we came to an agreement that we were all comfortable with.
The plan is for me to get a skeletal x-ray immediately to rule out any bone lesions, get bloodwork every two weeks to monitor any significant drop in hemoglobin and pay attention to the M-protein numbers. And we have a scheduled appointment with the doctor in 4 weeks to revisit the question of treatment date, the sweet spot that is neither too early nor too late.
I am happy with this development. Starting treatment for myeloma now could impact the regimen that I am currently on for breast cancer as my body would be immuno-compromised. I also see this as an unexpected blessing of time. I had fully expected when I went for my appointment today that Dr. Tiedemann would want me to start treatment immediately. Now I have bought myself potentially another 4 weeks (maybe longer) depending on how my impish, unpredicatable and mercurial myeloma behaves. 4 weeks of time where I had freed myself of all obligations. 4 weeks of no commitments. 4 weeks of bonus time. I am beside myself as I think of all the things I can do during this time.
Perhaps I can use this time for delicious coffee dates with friends. Perhaps I can learn a fun new skill like salsa dancing. Maybe a trip to Edmonton and Calgary to meet favourite cousins is in the offing. I am excited about a project of decluttering our home from top to bottom. Or getting a personal trainer for the first time in my life. Or working on another collaborative recording of devotional music. I am thinking about a day of working in the garden, planting and pruning, Or I could binge-watch Game of Thrones, as I seem to be the only one in the universe who hasn’t watched this show. I plan to read a lot, go to baseball games with Nagib and try new Instant Pot recipes. The possibilities are endless and entirely exhilarating!
Out of curiosity, what would you do if you had a full month at your disposal? How would you spend your time and energy?