Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Perjeta and Me, a Love Hate relationship


Let's get the awkward part out of the way. My love affair with Perjeta was brief, intense, lifesaving and ruinous. By the end, I will be broken in body and spirit, and longing for more. How will I survive without it, this powerful thing? Its properties are magical, immediate and astonishing. It will transform me. But like all transformations, there will be pain, unraveling and ugliness.

We are introduced by Drs. Nora and Silver on a hot day in August. I only know its proper name and do no due diligence and let it inside me with no idea of its horrifically beautiful force. Within 4 days, it has taken me over. My body is no longer my own.

The tumors, multi-focal, begin to die. The feeling is like electrical zaps, but does not exactly hurt. Intuitively I realize that something magnificent is occurring in my body. I rejoice because I know this is good. It's worth it, the nausea, the fatigue, the feeling of being overcome with poison. It cannot get worse, right? Then the diarrhea begins.

And diarrhea is in no way sufficient to describe the experience.

There is about a 10 second interval between urge and purge. There is no warning, no cramps, no time. Unlike normal bowel function, there is no freaking way to control this tide. Any attempt to clench my sphincter is laughable, and meets with embarrassing failure. My hallway will get lots of Clorox mopping, and lots of clothes tossed out. Perjeta may be a cancer assassin but it will make you shit yourself, your car, and vast portions of your home during the process. Soon I am calling myself Olympic shitting champion! I call out my accomplishments to my husband during the worst times, as I white-knuckle the bowl and shudder in relief. "And.......there she goes! She has eaten nothing for days, yet look at the river of crap! And the trajectories! The splattering! She's going for the gold!"

My husband, poor bastard, humors me by shouting back sick encouragement, then tosses in some air freshener. It repeats this way after each treatment, for months. So by the time we part ways, Perjeta and I have loved, hurt and healed each other. I cannot ever forget the time we spent together.

So......remember. Ride the Perjeta wave, if it is offered. It is like that roller coaster you are in awe of, yet terrified by. Expect thrills and terror, and to lose a part of yourself. But maybe if you and I are lucky, it will leave us with a little bit of something to remember in old age.