Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Nearly Impossible Choices

I'm 4 months into my chemo (out of 6 total) and for the last few sessions I have met with my oncologist and we have discussed the same issue: Do we reduce the chemo dose? He claims that very few people can stand to do the entire 6 months at full dosage. Most reduce due to low blood cell count or side-effects.

My blood counts have all been fine except for one time and my liver functions and all that other stuff they test for have been fine, so for me it's just a matter of side-effects. So I'm faced with this dilemma: two more months of full dosage and feeling increasingly like a pile of poo run over by a truck and then put through a pulverizer or decrease in dosage. Is it worth two months of feeling bad to keep myself at full dosage or decrease the dose which may (or may not) give the cancer more of a chance to take hold, would make me feel a bit more human and may (or may not) decrease the chance of permanent damage from the side-effects.

The most frustrating thing for me is that my oncologist says that there are no studies to determine what happens if one decreases the dose. Namely, does the cancer come back more often if you decrease the dose? No one has done this study? It seems improbable. All you'd have to do is plus some survival rates into an algorithm and see if there's a difference. Hell, I've got nothing but time right now. Give me the data and I'll plug it in.

I try to make the best choices I can when it comes to this cancer. I see the best doctors, get second opinions, listen to my body but ultimately I'm left to make life or death choices on my own. Not that I'd have it any other way. I'm a bit of a control freak with stuff like this. But it's nearly impossible to make a choice that may leave me dead in 5 years or may give me another 60 years on this planet. Who knows? And I guess that's the problem: there really is no way of knowing. It's just my best guess.

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