The numbers game

Cancer is a game of numbers that only a Las Vegas bookie could keep straight. Every week or so, you are gaming new numbers discerned from yet another blood draw. Red blood cells–too low and you are anemic and need a blood transfusion. My mom has had several this year. White blood cells–too high and you may have an infection; too low and you risk an infection.

Then there is the “tumor count.” It doesn’t actually measure the number of tumors, but rather “tumor markers,” which are usualy proteins produced by cancer cells. Normal cells also make these proteins, but cancer cells are on overdrive. The lower the “tumor count” the better.

We had an appointment with the oncologist yesterday and by all measures the numbers are good. Even her tumor count has dropped close to “normal,” which means the chemotherapy is apparently doing its work.

Just one number is not in her favor, and that is her weight: 98 pounds fully dressed. The doctor gave her a “chemo vacation” this week with instructions to eat calorie dense, fiber-light foods and to try to gain two pounds by next Wednesday.

Her hair had started to grow back, but only because she’s missed so many chemo sessions due to the last three hospitalizations.

So next week we try to get back on a regular schedule, and just cross our fingers hoping she doesn’t have another serious episode with the bowel obstruction. Even with a lower tumor count, the chemotherapy continues.

1 thought on “The numbers game”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *