The “Bone Metastasis/Radiation/Recovery” leg of this journey (February through August) demanded all my time and energy. During this period I discovered unmined veins full of life lessons for me to extract and process, and I feel richer now for the experience. Seriously!
The truly difficult part comes now: translating the events of the past six months or so into human language. I’m working on it, but I’ll be enlisting poets and visionaries to help me out.
As soon as the radiation treatments ended in March, I began anti-estrogen (aromatase inhibitor) therapy (one little pill a day). Once a month I get an injection of xgeva (denosumab) to rebuild my riddled bones. I stopped taking opiate pain pills as soon as possible so I could drive a car again.
There are two tumor markers in the blood for my kinds of breast cancer. The tumor marker numbers have plunged dramatically since March, and, for the past two months, these markers’ values have indicated remission. A PET CT scan in July showed no metastatic activity in my bones. Also, the original tumors are no longer palpable.
Remission! Reprieve! I’m thrilled and thankful that the biomedical treatments have worked so well and so quickly.
Unfortunately, to maintain this state of remission I’ll have to take aromatase inhibitor drugs and get periodic xgeva shots for years to come. Both cause joint pain, fatigue, and nausea. I’ve adapted to these adverse effects, but there are also accumulative adverse effects that may kick in down the road. Xgeva can cause bone necrosis in the jaw, and aromatase inhibitors can weaken the bones, perpetuating the need for xgeva. Aromatase inhibitors lose efficacy over time (3 to 5 years would be a good run).
So, grateful as I am for the excellent and effective emergency care I’ve received (and for a good health insurance policy to pay for most of it), I need now to turn my attention once again to the original goal: complete healing.
Strangely, I have a notion that the bone metastasis and its pain and treatments taught me what I need to know to attain this healing. I’ve also learned recently that quite a few poets, mystics, and contemporary writers share the same notion. It all begins with the Sumerian goddess, Inanna.