20 years ago, a work colleague I was very fond of taught me an acronym he picked up during his stint in the military: BOHICA. This stood for, “Bend Over: Here It Comes Again!” My long suffering friend used it to describe life as usual at the newspaper we were employed by. Probably to my dour friend, Dick, life was chock-full of BOHICA moments. While I wasn’t always Ms. Positivity back in those days, I never was convinced he was right. I believe most clouds have silver linings, but that not all silver comes shrouded in clouds.
Now I’m 5 years into my fight with non-small cell lung cancer, AKA “The Beast.” In all this time, I’ve never dreaded receiving any treatment, be it chemo or radiation. To me, the treatments always brought hope, not fear. I’d nearly forgotten the term, BOHICA.
For 20 months, I was part of a clinical study of an immunotherapy drug called Atezolizumab. The drug did have some side effects: terrible headaches, mild (for me) rashes and some fatigue. More importantly, it kept my lung cancer stable for 18 of those months, even decreasing the size of some of the tumors. The drug finally stopped working. The Beast is growing again. Time to switch weapons.
My doctor prescribed Vinorelbine, which is not immunotherapy. It is a ‘kill-all-the-cells’ type chemotherapy. She proposed a schedule of a treatment 2 weeks in a row, then a week off, then repeat until the end of February. Despite some of the nasty-sounding side effects I read about, I was hardly in a BOHICA state of mind. Usually, chemo hasn’t grounded me for more than a few days. I figured all side effects could be banished with a few anti-nausea and migraine pills, and a day or two of bed rest. I figured I’d be able to participate in all the usual holiday parties, no problem.
December 3rd I received the first “push” of my new drug. It took 10 minutes. Wham! Down for the count. Some of the side effects responded to meds, others never did. The next week was spent in bed. I was so weak, my wife had to drive me to Kaiser for pre-chemo blood tests a week later. My oncologist called to tell me that we’d be skipping chemo the next day due to low white blood cell counts. “With those white cell counts, we wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole.” So, back home to nearly another week in bed.
Finally, I’m feeling like myself again. At my request, today Joan and I visited Langer’s Deli to indulge my sudden craving for pastrami. If the blood test Gods concur, this Friday should bring another dose of Vinorelbine. I am determined to get through this treatment. The challenge is avoiding that BOHICA state of mind. Instead I’m going to be thankful for the pounds that are slipping off, and keep my eye on the prize: KILL The Beast.
Let’s hope The Beast gets the message: for him, everything’s coming up BOHICA in 2016.