“We cannot wait two months, it will be too late.”
I was taken aback when I heard my patient tell me that was what the oncologist told her. She was supposed to be cancer-free and now her lymph nodes are positive.
Mesothelioma recurrence is very difficult to avoid even after the most aggressive surgery. Recurrence happens because the mesothelioma tumor is located so close to vital organs.
At this time, physicians can only offer hope by delaying mesothelioma recurrence and keeping the mesothelioma under control.
My patient, Mary, thought she would have to have chemo, but so quick? Some days she felt like she was going to beat this and other days she felt like she got hit with a brick. After a month of chemo, she says her appetite is improving but not where it is supposed to be.
The part that is so scary is what if she waited or was not up to it. Will that god-awful tumor grow back? She just got rid of a large tumor that encapsulated her left chest. Her surgeon removed her lung diaphragm and reconstructed her pericardium. It really does not seem fair. Chemotherapy once every 3 weeks for 12 weeks- a total of 4 cycles.
Another issue is what will the chemo do to her body. She is a young woman of childbearing age. The oncologist explained that she may want to freeze her eggs for a later date when she would like to possibly have a child. So much to think about!
She is not thinking about children but now she is forced to consider this and other issues.
It makes her reflect upon her life.
Where is this all going to go? When is the treatment going to end? When will she be back to herself?
Fortunately, she has goals and would like to go school. It is good to have a focus about what lays ahead. Yes, we know any kind of treatment is not easy but the flipside is treatment will allow her to live her life.
Although this is a difficult disease to treat, as professionals, we remain hopeful. Nothing is more rewarding than having a group of patients come to clinic for follow up and not one patient has evidence of recurrence. Another reward is when we visit someone after discharge and see them living their life.
It is the little things that give hope. The idea that patients are able to move forward with their life is inspiring for us to fight this disease.