I’ve done it again — passed my scans with flying colors (even though a pneumonia was still visible on the CT images, alarming Dr. P, who wasn’t sure I knew about it! Oh, I knew). My next MRI is in three months, but the CT scan is not for another SIX. Wahoo!
Since these scans were a referendum on whether it is a good idea for me to drop the frequency of my medications to every other day, I was especially anxious about these results. Also, I am now two years out from my last gamma knife surgery, meaning I’m two years out from any sort of tumor activity. It feels good to have two years of life under my belt… even if that life is fraught with anxiety. It’s still better than the alternative.
I asked Nurse Practitioner Rajni today about the modified meds schedule, because it is not something that is officially sanctioned by the drug company or the FDA or any other official entity. It turns out that they do case studies in order to figure out what makes sense, and also share data at conferences, etc. They do this because the BRAF drugs are still too new for there to have been any studies done on modified dosages. She said that after a year on the meds every other day, they might change it again, to three times a week, or whatever seems prudent. I remind myself that in the past, when I’ve had side effects, I have gone off the meds completely for two weeks, with no bad result. (The half-life of these meds in the body is seven days.)
I’m grateful this treatment keeps working for me, and that the new dosage seems to be working fine. Having a vacation from the meds every other day really helps lift the siege mentality that can develop when you take a medication that requires you to fast for three hours twice a day.
Speaking of siege mentality, because I am always looking to put things in perspective, and because I have a perverse idea of what to do with a little leisure time, I left the cancer center and headed for a screening of a documentary called “Fear Us Women.” (Looking at the website, I now see I could have watched it for free online, saving a few bucks, but I had some popcorn, and the entire theater to myself, so there you go.)
It is about the YPJ, an all female, mostly Kurdish army that fights ISIS. The main subject is a non-Kurdish Canadian woman, who heard about ISIS and decides to leave home and join up. She’s on the older end of the scale — most of the women are much younger, many traumatized by what ISIS has done to their communities and in seek of revenge. ISIS fighters believe that if they are killed by women, they do not go to Heaven, which makes the YPJ’s activities doubly important. In one scene, they send a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades over to the enemy, and then ululate so their foe will know exactly who it is that is doing the killing — women.
I am inspired and in awe of these women. They do incredibly dangerous and vitally important work for the entire world. There are many good reasons I can’t run off and join the YPJ… but knowing they exist makes me proud of women. For this and many other reasons, it finally feels like a good time to be a woman. I’m grateful to still be around to witness it.