The cancer roller coaster

roller coaster

Well, my visit to the cancer centre yesterday was not quite what I was anticipating. There were high points and there were low points.

Let’s start with the high points, since there were many: 1) the doctor was as close to on time as she has ever been; 2) my chemotherapy has continued to send those cancer cells running for the hills; 3) the pharmacy finally gave me a non-childproof container as per my request since, even as an adult, I can’t master the childproof ones; 4) my great medical team of doctor, nurse, and stellar nurse practitioner gave me the thought, care, and attention I needed; 5) I was at the hospital so long (more later) that I scored not just one but two visits from the Cookie Ladies; and 6) I finally got to taste the tuna sandwich with fresh veggies and hot peppers that J. had been raving about since my long stay in hospital many months ago.

On to the single, unfortunate low point: I have become anemic since last visit and, although J. was noticing some signs, I hadn’t really been aware of much change in my functioning. Since I am chronically exhausted, I find it hard to judge if I am more or less tired than usual on any given day. (On that note, I’ve always been bad at the doctors’ “Rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10” queries too.) Now that I look back on it, I can see the signs, but I’m not sure I would have noticed the general fog I’ve been in without input from my astute partner and the objectivity of blood testing.

Despite the doctor’s timeliness, then, we ended up spending a very long day at the hospital while I became the grateful recipient of two pints of lovely B+ packed red blood cells. (You blood donors should know how valuable you are to us cancer folk.) Now my leukemia team just has to figure out what’s going on. Unfortunately, a dramatic drop in my red blood count just like this one landed me in hospital when I was first diagnosed with leukemia, so I’ve had to work hard not be agitated by the unexpected news. I will admit to another restless night as I tried, unfortunately between midnight and 3 a.m., to make sense of what had happened.

By now I should know that curve balls are a fact of chronic illness. Things can be going along well…and then they’re not. The key for me is not to get too caught up in these unexpected events–I WILL sleep tonight, if it kills me–and to keep living. So I’m focussed on a planned trip to Vancouver this weekend, and trusting I’ll get the go ahead to be anemic in another province. Really, if anything goes awry, I’ll only be an hour’s flight away. And I imagine they have hospitals in BC too.


2 thoughts on “The cancer roller coaster

  1. Hi. I found your blog through our mutual friend (relative) Erin. I just wanted you to know that I am a B+ blood donor. I had never really thought about where my donation goes and as a result I have been an intermittent blood giver. Thank you for waking me up to how important blood products are. I am now going to hit that 56 day mark (the time you must wait between donations). All the best.


    • Dear Stephanie: I don’t know if you were the one who saved my life (several times now) but I am so grateful that you and others give the true gift of life. If I may say, “Keep on giving!!” Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


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