Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

What Do You Mean I’m Typical?!?!

I showed up at the chemo clinic this past Friday to get my usual "spa treatment". The typical drill is that they check your blood work to make sure that a variety of different components have "bounced back" to normal from the past treatment. Assuming that your red blood cell and white blood cell counts are at normal levels, the Dr's proceed with the chemotherapy treatment. I have always taken this "drill" as a given since my blood counts have never been questioned. They are always elevated and I am able to proceed with chemo, no problem. My Dr. had started to pull back on some of my shots to see how my blood levels would react with less "medical assistance" but I didn't really think much about it... However, this past Friday, my blood counts were not high enough and Dr. Maki had to turn me away from treatment. This is the first time in my almost 12 months of receiving chemotherapy that this has happened to me. It is nothing to be alarmed about and the nurses told me that this happens all the time with "typical" patients. What, since when am I typical?!?! The nurses didn't seem to understand that I am the patient that has defied odds twice now with cancer! I have ALWAYS been in the top 5% of response rates from the chemotherapy treatments and all 3 surgeries have gone as well, if not better, than expected. Telling me that I had a "typical" response was like a slap in the face! How dare you make me realize that I am human and I simply can't surpass all expectations every time! I dont' remember being this annoyed since the dentist thought I had a cavity from all of the chemotherapy treatments (it is common to get cavities because when blood counts drop, the natural chemical balance in your mouth changes making it harder to flush away bacteria). Since I have NEVER had a cavity in my life, I told him to make up some other reason why he thought I might have to have some work done since I refused to accept that chemo had given me a cavity. Ask Dave and he will tell you that I have rationalized the cavity situation a hundred different ways since accepting that I just might have had a cavity, is more difficult to handle than the cancer diagnosis! Truth be told, I was feeling rather tired this past week and certain side effects were flaring up more than usual. So, I can't say it was a complete surprise that my blood counts were not as strong. Also, I was a tiny bit relieved that I could attribute some of my symptoms (lower energy levels, mouth sores, stomach issues) to something tangible. As many of you know, I often get concerned that gradually getting weaker is just something I will have to accept the longer I am on chemo. The good news is that I could blame my low blood counts for my recent lethargy. So, Dr. Maki sent me away with a little gift (an energy-boosting shot that I love!) and told me to report back next week when we will start again. Hopefully, this "typical" stuff was a mistake and next week I will over-deliver as I typically do. Have a great week!