June 9, 2003.
That’s the day Rachel and I were married. Seven years ago today.
It was a Monday, a public holiday, and we decided it would be cool if we got married at dusk. So, I set the start time on our invitations at 4:44pm. So many people asked why on earth I picked that time and I was only too happy to tell them that I wanted people to remember the time and be on time. The fact that they were talking about it meant that they were much less likely to forget it. And besides… it was my wedding and I could have it start at whatever time I felt like.
An hour or so after my funny little starting time, Rachel and I were husband and wife. On her finger was a white gold ring that sat nicely next to her engagement ring and on mine was a similar ring. Our jeweller had informed us that while most people used nickel as the base for their white gold rings, he proudly used platinum. It wasn’t something I had given much thought to when it came to having our rings made but I knew enough to know that platinum is a whole lot more valuable than nickel, and as it was going to be given to my bride, this precious metal was most fitting.
Seven years…. and I can guarantee that when we both promised to stick it out “in sickness and in health”, neither of us imagined anything like what we’re going through now.
In three days I will be dealing with platinum once again. Only this time it will be going into my body and not on it.
Over the past 3 weeks the numbers that show how active the cancer is in my body, my CEA 19-9 markers, have increased. They have moved from their lowest point at 258 to 504. This isn’t a large increase considering I started at 4,323 (a normal person is 3.0 or less) but as a percentage they have doubled. So it’s been decided that in conjunction with the Xeloda tablets I am taking I will also head back in to hospital for a further round of infusions. This time it will be a drug named Oxaliplatin given every three weeks. According to Wikipedia, Oxaliplatin features a square planar platinum(II) center. In contrast to cisplatin and carboplatin, oxaliplatin features the bidentate ligand 1,2-diaminocyclohexane in place of the two monodentate ammine ligands. It also features a bidentate oxalate group.
Umm…. right. Ok. If you understand any of that then give yourself a pat on the back, because I don’t. I just know that they’re going to push platinum into my blood stream and somehow it’s going to pick a fight with my cancer.
My previous regime consisted of 3 drugs in conjunction with Folic Acid. A mixture that proved very effective but one that also wiped me out for a week at a time. This new regime is designed to maintain the ground we have taken until I finish working on a TV series, after which I will go back to the original regime with the view to having surgery in a few months time to forcibly remove the tumours in my liver. Apparently it’s quite possible to remove up to three quarters of the human liver and in 6 to 8 weeks it will grow back…. healthy and cancer free. It’s the only organ in the body that has that ability. A super power of sorts.
So we’re going into another holding pattern while I earn enough money to see us through the recovery period…. and beyond if necessary.
When I first started chemo I really had no idea what to expect. I was so naive that I even booked (and showed up to) work on the two days immediately following that first infusion. Of course, my body was in total shock after it’s first taste of poison and I crashed… hard. This time I have spent some time researching my next round of poison and to be honest, I’m more than a little anxious.
You see, Oxaliplatin affects nerve ends as a side effect. Primarily, this will manifest itself as an extreme sensitivity to the cold, which is wonderful as we head into winter. Along with the usual suspects like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea there is another more worrying side effect:
It’s nowhere near as common as the previously mentioned side effects but it’s the one that scares me the most.
I make my living with my ears…. as an editor, as a sound engineer, as a musician. It’s all I’ve known since I graduated from high school and to be honest, I love what I do.
But I’m nervous. Really nervous. Please pray that this side effect does not come knocking on my door.
I still struggle to understand all that is happening in my life, in our lives as a family. It’s quite likely that I never will fully grasp it all. But one thing I do know is that it takes incredible pressure, from all sides, to turn a lump of coal into a diamond. I think it’s fair to say I’m being squeezed pretty hard right now…. Rachel too. But when this is all over and the transformation is complete, the light reflected by my life, our lives, will be something to behold…. and you will know where that light comes from.
There will be no doubt.
Happy anniversary babe…. I love you.