After an extended and completely predictable series of screw-ups between the mail system and two separate hospitals, both of my oncologists have now seen the MRI report and the images, and have had enough time to make sense of both. So the conclusive, official result is that I'm stable. Nothing new, no signs of progression. In other words, about as good a result I can expect outside of miraculous recovery.
I still have some things to get done before my next round, mostly getting my hands on the proper medications without having to drive half-way across the state, but otherwise it looks like I'll be starting my next cycle on schedule.
The side effects were pretty mild this time around. Some fatigue and fog, but my appetite held stable and I still haven't had to take off any work (which is fortunate, as I must admit there are days when I simply fill a desk due to aforementioned fatigue and fog). My hair seems to have stopped filling in, leaving me with a pretty significant bald patch above my left brow. I still hold out hope it'll come back in at some point but for the time being it looks like I'm keeping the bandana. There are a few products out there that can give me a closer shave than my current electric razor so maybe I'll pick up one of those and go bald. I have quite an impressive dent in my head but it's easy to overlook due to its position and angle. I must admit that I'm actually a little proud of it. What'd you do this summer? Oh, Cape Cod? Fancy! I had brain surgery. No big deal.
A new question has started to pop up more and more, one I'm going to add to the list of, "things I wish people would stop asking." This one is, "so you're done with your treatment, right?" The question is difficult and depressing to answer. I usually start out by explaining that yes, I'm done with radiation, but no, I won't be done with my treatment for about two years. Then I see their smile vanish and the, "holy shit, you still have brain cancer" return to their expression. Then I explain what 5/28 cycles are, usually without mentioning that my chemo dosage is much higher, or why they want to keep giving me chemo at all. They usually come back with nothing, or, "well you look great!" or "your color's so good!" Thanks. I'm increasingly tempted to say, "you too." People already know that I'm sarcastic but I'm increasingly aware of two things: first, that I'm a lot more familiar (and comfortable) with my cancer than most other people, and second, that never in my life have I given less of a fuck about empathy. I'm sure between that and my new tendency to draw a blank mid-sentence sometimes, a few people have come to the conclusion that I am now a bit "off." I've always been uncomfortable around people who are like that, so all I can do is hope I'm not making anyone else feel too weird. Hey, look at that! Empathy! OK, I guess I still have a little.
Anyway, to all my loyal (and not-so-loyal) readers, followers, fans and stalkers, I hope you enjoy your holiday (or lack thereof) of choice to the best of your ability.