Liz's colonic journey

How do people do this job?

You know it’s bad when your oncologist is depressed when you greet him. The liver lesions are throughout the liver, so no surgery or radiation for the bowel or liver at the moment. The prognosis is not lekker, he said average lifespan from this kind of diagnosis was 2 years. Of course, being an over-achiever I need to beat the average. He looked at me very sternly and said, “Liz, tell me honestly, what symptoms did you have before the bowel symptoms and the tiredness before that? Because with that liver you’ve had this thing for a while.” I felt like I was in the principal’s office. I really thought I was more in danger of cirrhosis or lung cancer, but I can’t remember symptoms. The sister who described the regimen to us, asked “Didn’t you see the Oprah show where they said, always be interested in your poo? How much? How fast? How heavy? Does it float or not? How does it smell?” Both Pat and I looked at her like she was mad!

Basically the treatment plan now is much stronger chemo. It’s a regimen called Folfox, a combination of the main drug called oxaliplatin (trade name Eloxatin) in combination with 5-FU/LV (whatever that is). Each cycle is 2 weeks long. On the first day of the cycle (call it Monday), I go in and they pump the oxaliplatin through (along with anti-nausea drugs) and send me home with the pump tied to my belt, then Tuesday they do another lot and fill the pump for overnight then Wednesday they take the needle, out of the port. Then I have a break for the rest of the week and the next, when they check the white blood cells are high enough and go into the next cycle. The whole regimen is supposed to go on for 12 weeks, but the oncologist says if he hasn’t seen action after the first 2 cycles he’ll change the drug combo.

 The point being I suppose, that even when you think you know what you are going to hear, and are prepared for it. It still comes as a shock. Listen we didn’t exactly dance into the oncology centre, but we were walking sprightly and with our heads up – ready to take it on the chin. And we did. There was a family there waiting as their little lad (9 maybe) was having his treatment, and 2 or 3 others in the comfy lazyboy chairs reading and listening to music. It’s a serene and pleasant environment. The staff are incredibly pragmatic and gentle, with excellent senses of humour. They dished out a lollipop where the stick was the skeleton of a leg – the lad was delighted. It made me think that facing one’s own mortality is nowhere near as hard as watching someone you love potentially disappearing and leaving a ‘that person-sized hole’ in one’s existence.

So with the prognosis being not exactly long-term, Pat and I are working on the pragmatics of ‘getting our affairs in order’, ‘bucket list’, whilst also working on refusing the ‘Green Mile’ feeling – you know the one where the guards shout “Dead Man Walking”? We’re not really up to speaking to anyone at the moment.  There’s quite a lot to process and think about and we’re both a bit choky. Easier to say it in print. Love to you all.


Comments on: "How do people do this job?" (8)

  1. amishi gandhi said:

    Liz, put Zini on that bucket list as well – you and Pat have to come here, to the ocean. She calls out loud for you. You and Pat are in my thoughts. This blog thing cant be easy to write but thanks for it – We get to know how you’re doing without being intrusive. Yell if there is anything I can do in any way. Stay strong, love.

    • Rosh Sunder said:

      Liz, positive thoughts my friend. You are an over achiever and you can beat this thing, no matter the odds. Take charge of this ‘thing’ and DO NOT underestimate the power of the mind. You need to talk to every cell in your body and take control of them, boh the good ones and the bad ugly ones (right now). I have heard of a woman in a similar place who willed herself to health……

      And rely on a higher power for inner strength my friend.
      Lotsa love

  2. Joan Conolly said:

    Dear Liz and Pat, after this really horrid day, tomorrow can only be better, particularly as you have already decided to beat the odds, and of course you will!!! For tonight, I wish you sound sleep and sweet dreams. May God bless every day with joy, love, and laughter, Joan

  3. I love you so much Sis. You are so strong and always conerned about other people’s feelings. Knowing you the way I do you’ll make a bucket list and you’ll achieve every darn one of them. Remember we have a date in April 2012 and that must be on the list!!!

    • Yep – Aus is on, whether I’ve thought of a paper to present or not. We can go and watch Sioux do hers! Better get my passport sorted. I’ve got to watch Fiona and Kathy do the Ronnie Davel in January, and Denise, Mary and Shirl the PDAC in Feb, Paulette’s demanded a Mauritian holiday.Pat needs to see London. The list is pretty exciting.

      • Tania Davis Jones said:

        Well then I look forward to seeing you both here in London……….. Yes?? Its on our calendar, it will be whole new story to the falling off the pipe in Illiondale when I dunk you off the Bridge into the Thames, I am Game and be warned I have mastered the art of paper boats….xxxxxxxx

        • Not sure about falling off the Bridge into the Thames – don’t like heights much. Paperboats on the Thames or something smaller in Herefordshire perhaps? My word we laughed ourselves silly that day – so unladylike! I’d like to try mudlarking. I’ve always wondered what Andy dug up when he was working on the Embankment. And to see Pat muddy would be a treat. She’s like teflon – paints ceilings without getting any in her hair/eyes/nose etc. …muses …Ah the possibilities!

  4. Oh Lizzie. We love you so much. Can’t wait to hear what’s on the bucket list – it’ll be in true Liz style we know that. Sending so much love, beautiful friend. Mandz and Sioux XXX

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