As I enter the first month since the beginning of summer where I don’t get slammed with another transfusion just as I am rebounding from the last, the vice grip of pain on my head has finally begun to ease. I forgot what it felt like to not have searing pain in my neck unless holding my head in precisely the proper position, with little room for variation. The clamp squeezing my temples, for the most part has disappeared – until I overdo, then it threatens to return. Most thankfully is the release from the lockjaw pain that clenched my jaws and shot into an ear with just the right bite. Oh, and the ability to sit for more than 10 minutes without burning pain in my hips and legs – huge.
I forgot what post-treatment felt like, but as I experience less muscle and joint pain, along with losing the vice grip, and the further out I get from the last treatment, the more exciting it becomes. And the more I dread the next treatment in November. However, if the nausea, mind-numbing fatigue and pain are the price I’ve paid for my last clean scans and blood tests, I’ll take it. Three months payment for a number of years of life, not a bad price to pay. Especially as I look forward to a new grandbaby in a few months.
As I enter the maintenance phase (four more treatments at 12-week intervals) of the clinical trial and begin to feel more like the person I recall being before embarking on this new journey, I can’t lose sight of the fact that I am winning battles, but the war is far from over. While Dr. Hake didn’t place much importance on my elevated LDH level (LDH is most often measured to check for tissue damage) – something to monitor, maybe part of the side-effects of treatment – nor mention the small lesion on my liver, which they have diagnosed as a benign hepatic lesion, (which has not changed between two CT scans) I can’t help but wonder if it’s not some melanoma spies hanging around behind enemy lines, waiting for the right moment.
I’ve researched enough to know that melanoma is a stealthy bugger. I’ve researched enough to know that I can’t take anything for granted. I’ve researched enough to realize I have to do everything in my power to not allow “the right moment” to occur when those spies could call in more forces.
Therefore I focus on diet, fitness and rest – the only weapons I have in my control (besides applying sunscreen) to assure that I am David and melanoma a mere Goliath. I have won the battle, but the war is far from over. Right now I have to gather a pile of good stones and invest in a better slingshot.