August 9, 2010

a break?

"How do you feel about it being the last time at MD Anderson for awhile?  Getting a break?" I enquired of my brother.
"Ask me again in three days when it's done," his reply short and yet loaded with emotion.

Three days of scans, needle sticks, and endless waiting for the doctor passes.

"So how do you feel now?"
"How so?"
"I was hoping for more than just modest responses to the tumor.  And the other nodule....."
"You said 'conflicted'.  What would be the flip side of the coin?  The good news."
His pause, pregnant with expectation, was long, "I guess I didn't hear any good news from the doctor."
My mom concurred.  Irony seems to reign supreme as I'm the eternal pessimist and of the three at the table, I'm the only one who felt any measure of good news.
"You realize that only 15 to 20% of people with your disease respond to frontline therapy.  And of those 15-20% a certain amount just have their tumors stay the same size.  EIGHTY-some percent have their tumors continue to grow in the face of the chemotherapy."

"And what happens when I stop the chemotherapy?"

My heart broke at that moment.  I confessed we didn't know.  The concept of a 'break' is illusory at best.  Yes, there is a break from chemotherapy.  But the disease is still there.

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