3. The Cumulative Effect of Chemotherapy
Jason: Welcome back to the Mo Chronicles: navigating pancreatic cancer. This episode picks up with Mo as she is about to begin her first chemotherapy treatment after undergoing the Whipple surgery. Though, Mo will not readily admit it, she was struggling physically at this point, having pushed back the start date for chemo by a week, such that she could have more strength for what was to come.
Mo: Okay back again,
Jason: we're back and we're talking chemo.
Mo: We're talking chemo.
Jason: Okay. So talking about your pancreatic cancer journey and we've covered early onset symptoms, or I should say symptoms,
Jason: Or initial diagnosis, actual diagnosis, Whipple surgery. Post-op right. you know, coming back home and getting ready for chemo. And so let's begin there, which is you've, you've found an oncologist, which you shared earlier, you are begging him for an extra week before you start chemo,
Mo: because I don't feel great cause
Jason: you don't feel great because you've just gone through hell with the Whipple surgery. But they do want to get started on chemo relatively quick. So you're starting chemo in May, roughly. What, what day was it in may when you had your first?
Mo: He would have liked me to have been about the 15th, 14th, and I pushed her for an extra week, which was fine. It worked out. Okay. One of the things that I didn't share Jason, is that the location of my chemo, was strategically between trader Joe's and Starbucks, which worked very well for your mother.
Jason: Okay. So you would do this before and after chemo therapy, you would hit one,
Mo: everything after going very early in the morning, chemo.
Jason: So you looked forward to that, that Starbucks, what was the drink that you were drinking back then?
Mo: Back then it was chai tea
Jason: so I'm sure that that was
Mo: and the bacon gouda sandwich. I will tell you what they do. They give you something pre chemo that gives you a ravenous appetite, because believe me, you're not ravenous from then forward.
Jason: Okay. Got it. So, so basically you would go to chemo and then go get the, chai tea latte, and the bacon gouda sandwich and then go pick up some groceries at trader Joe's. So that was your routine
Mo: If I felt up to it.
Jason: So for those that have recently received this diagnosis, and their family members. Can you tell us a little bit more about just chemo in general, whether it's that first one and literally what happens in terms of when you go through chemo or broadly speaking, what the highs and lows are, you know, I assume more lows than highs with chemo. So, and before you get started, just to set context, this is a six month. Period for you from
Mo: five months, five months, 18 chemos.
Jason: So May until November of 2014, October
Mo: may to October. So with that, with that, I could not wait for my first chemo could not wait. because that going there, what is in my mind, the beginning of healing. I saw that as the healing. This is it. This is the, this is going to give me a future. Yeah. Open all kinds of doors. So I couldn't wait to go there. the way it works is you have a visit with your doctor and was that.
Jason: What you just described may not be medically precise.
Mo: That's for me.
Jason: It was the way that you perceived it in a way, almost like a game. You're like, Hey, let me turn this chemo thing into a positive, but this is what's been, this is my healing.
Mo: This is the elixir of life. Is chemo for me. Could not wait to go. Had my port there. All set. Okay. I had. a couple of interesting things. the first chemo let me set it up, that you go to the doctor, he takes your blood work. They run it real quick. They're looking for platelet counts or whatever counts they're looking for. The most important thing then becomes. I hope everything is in order so that I can have the chemo. Because I'm told there are people that don't, they show up, their platelets are too low or too high or wherever they are. They're red blood, white blood cell count or something. So out of order, and they're denied that chemo, which pushes you back further. So
Jason: you just want to get through this.
Mo: I want to be every single time. Perfect and get my chemo on schedule. Yeah, that's my goal. so the first chemo, I met with dr. Harris, then they bring you into the chemo room now at this particular place, which has since been revamped and is in a new building. But anyway, yeah. I just loved, it was a big semi the circle big room, and there were recliners set up and, you know, they with a pole and they hook you up to the chemo. And I loved the people. I had chemo friends. So my first chemo bill brought me, came in and sat with me as many family members do. You see that all the time, sons or daughters with their parents or a spouse with the, with the other. so bill sat with me and I was talking to Harriet on my left and, Paul to my right. He was down too. And we were talking and talking and talking and it takes several hours, several hours. It's it's I want to say. Two three, three hours. Maybe I can be sitting in a chair
Jason: and not being able to do anything,
Mo: you can get up and walk around, which I would do as I got to know people. I wouldn't, you know, but, you're large. At least most people prefer to sit quietly and you know,
Jason: they must've enjoyed you showing up,
Mo: Whoa, I'm a chitchat and which are exchanging recipes. Interestingly enough, in chemo, you do not talk about the cancer. The first time you meet somebody, you talk about what kind of cancer do you have? And that's about it. That's about it. Okay. Now, Harriet, right? That she started her chemo the same day I did. She was significantly older than me. I want to say at least 10 years, maybe 11 years older than me. And she told me she, I loved her and stayed in touch with her. she did not have cancer. She told me she just had tumors on her lung. Now I knew you're not at Florida cancer unless you have cancer.
Mo: now, she was in total, total denial. And she was very down. She was very sad on that first chemo day. And I remember saying to her, Hey Harriet, this is our new beginning. This is it. That only I was, are we going to become friends? Because we will be coming every Tuesday. And. And it turned out, she'd save a seat for me. And they started laughing. They said, you can't save a seat for Mo in chemo. That's not going to happen in any way to as we move through, the first chemo session, bill accompanied me and sat and we chit chatted. And I talked to as many people as I could. And the second one, he said, I'll just wait out in the lobby. The second chemo, third chemo. He said, you know, I think you're better off just driving yourself as it turned out. I was so much better off, so much better off because for me, it was just a social chance, a chance to be with people, be with people who are going through a similar journey for all different kinds of cancer. We, as I said, we very seldom talked about the cancer. We more talked about, and very seldom talked about the effects on our body and our mind of this chmo, but we talked about local restaurants places that we love to go. we exchanged recipes, had a lot of laughs, a lot of things to laugh about, you know?
Jason: and when you're getting the drug administered to you. Do you feel the effects then in there? Or is that something that's?
Jason: The onset is afterwards. And is it hours afterwards? Is it days afterwards?
Mo: It's usually days and give you a medicine, prior or with just before the chemo that as I said, increases your appetite and, it's, anti-nausea that kind of stuff. So I remember, no, you feel fine. With the chemo. Absolutely fine. Oh yeah. There's absolutely no discomfort. And then you get in the car. I got in the car and I would drive and I would stop at trader Joe's. If I felt like it or needed things, then I'd go to Starbucks. Ravenously hungry. And that was the only ravenous hunger. There was Tuesday afternoon on the way home from chemo.
Jason: That's it?
Mo: That was it. And then, there was through the week, it seemed to decline.
Jason: When would it start to declimb? Wednesday, Thursday?
Jason: Thursday administered Tuesday. That's fine. Wednesday, generally fine.
Thursday, Thursday thing started to go South.
Mo: Well, yeah, you're tired. You're nauseous. You can't eat all different things. Then they started steroids and shifting the time and administration of you take them orally steroids
Jason: and that's to help with
Mo: the, through the tough days. Yeah. And of course the steroids swell your face. Physically. You have to let go of the appearance. You have to let go of that. You just do really can't
Jason: Hair falls out?
Mo: Hair fell out.
Jason: How long did it take for your hair to fall out?
Mo: The first week. I didn't even notice anything I thought. And of course silly may think, Oh, I'm not going to lose my hair. Am I going to be the lucky one? And then all of a sudden you start brushing your hair and you think, okay, I remember reading once you lose a hundred hairs a day and you look, and you got this thought more than a hundred, we're talking. Thousands. And then you find a great wig and then you start saying to yourself, which is true, you know, it's a lot less work to plop a wing on. Then to style hair, blow dry here.
Jason: It's very simple.
Mo: Yeah. It's very,
Jason: how soon after you started late may
Mo: a month in
Jason: a month in, then you started losing hair
Mo: and I started, then I looked and found a cute little wig. And thought, Oh, I can have a wig with straight hair. Cause I never had real straight hair. So I thought, good. you don't love the way. Cause it's summer in South Florida and you know, wearing a wig on the surface of the sun, but that's all right. it was fine. It was fine. It was not, that was not the important thing. And your face gets chubby with the steroids.
Jason: Right. Right.
Mo: So, but as I said, all that goes after window, you laugh at it. So not important. So not important. The big thing is to just. Keep yourself feeling good and positive and, and as energetic as you can now, remember, now that I'm on chemo, this incision, it stops healing.
Jason: Oh, okay.
Mo: Cause you're on chemo. So there's no healing.
Jason: You still have the open wound.
Mo: I have the packing every day, every day. So Evelyn comes in and so that is my first and I would schedule Evelyn so that I could. Get as much work done, go out and, and feeling sick as a dog. Sometimes trust me,
Jason: this is the bookkeeping and the personal assistant,
Mo: and I didn't want to lose the clients and I didn't want to let them down and I didn't want to project negatively. Right. So. I would call, I remember one particular day, I thought, okay. I feel so bad. I'm supposed to be there at 10. I'll just call and say, I'll be late. I see. Okay. Just buy me one more hour, you know, just one more hour. I don't think I had to cancel too often, but I did. I did cancel a couple of times, at least. people were very, very understanding. did the best I could, did not lose one client.
Jason: That's great.
Mo: So I was very proud and happy of that. And, and did an Oh. Another thing that's interesting with chemo, you'll get what they call chemo brain. And it, especially with numbers, which is what I'm working with. You, make a lot of mistakes. And, dr. Harris, we talked about it and he said, I can give you a medication for that. He said, but it will have side effects. And at that point, you are saying, I'm on steroids, I'm on this, I'm on and you don't want it. So I said, you know what? Dr. Harris, don't worry. Got it. I'll check my work three times. And I'll just check it and check it and check it. And then he laughed and it worked out just fine. Yeah.
Jason: Now, the chemo you've mentioned this to me before, and I'd love to hear more about it. You described it as it has cumulative affects. So, and that's something I'm not aware of, which is, I just assume that you either feel really bad that week or you don't, and it's just, and that each, each different, administration is discreet, but help me understand what you mean by cumulative effects.
Mo: For me this I noticed. and, and dr. Harris disagreed with me and maybe he's right and for me. I saw it to be cumulative the first week. Fine. The second week, little less fun, little tiny. It's just like chipping away, you know?
Jason: So you felt worse and worse with each successive week of the treatment and you were, was, were you getting a treatment every Tuesday or was there ever a break?
Mo: Three Tuesdays on one Tuesday off three Tuesdays on
Jason: And this is from late may until late November.
Mo: This was from late may til October 21st, You never forget your last chemo. Never forget it.
Jason: Okay. Five months, five months and three weeks on one week off, three weeks on one week off. So describe, yeah. The, the cumulative impact on you in terms of how that would be manifested in
Mo: yeah. You tire quick, quicker, no appetite. so that just, it gets a little bit worse each time, just a little bit worse and they try with the steroids and, It is what it is. You know, you just, you don't want to complain to the doctor because you know, it's going to end, right. You just say, okay, let's tolerate it. Let's figure it out. Let's work it out. You know, now every minute you can spend in that bed sleeping, you know, I had some side effects, which they thought perhaps were involved with the adrenal gland. I would start, getting very, very cold. It had nothing to do with the temperature around me and start shaking. And it would last sometimes 20 minutes and, really not a whole lot went into that, effort probably because I didn't report them as accurately and as often as I should have, but I remember I had come out to visit you and surprise Jamie for her birthday. And it was the month before my last chemo. When I came home on that airplane, I asked the guy next to me. I said, could I borrow your blanket if you're not going to use it? And then I shook for 20 minutes. And I'm sure he looked at me thinking, what is she doing over there? But, you know, I just said that I'm going through chemo and that just seems to be a side effect, but
Jason: now you described, a particular moment in a. in a Walgreens or a CVS,
Mo: my low point.
Jason: So that was your low point
Mo: everyone has a point.
Jason: So explain what that was so that people can understand what, what, what that was all about and when was it in your five month? chemotherapy regime,
Mo: It was about July,
Jason: July, so
Jason: so three months into it, or I should say two months into right. Two months into chemo, two months into a five month
Mo: and fine. And. Bill is, it was, picking up a prescription at a local pharmacy. I won't even mention the name of the pharmacy. and I went to an, which is curious to me, why do they put the pharmacy at the back of the drug store? When most people who are going back there are because they're sick and they need the medication. Why would they not put that at the front of the store. So you walk all the way, which is an effort and there's a line. So you sit, and I dropped off the prescription or maybe they'd phoned it in. I can't even remember the situation. Right. Bill is walking the aisles, trying to find it Insure because I'm not eating right. And he's trying to figure out, which is the most powerful and the most protein packed, supplement, which I'm not keen on that either. So I'm in the back and have really feeling terrible, physically terrible. and I go to pick up by then it says an assortment of medicines, you know, there's the, the prednisone is a striving to this anti-nausea, I still, I think I was taking something for the, on and off for the pain. It wasn't major, but there was a lot of, but anyway, one of the medications they couldn't get, and this one particular, pharmacist or pharmacist assistant was not customer friendly and said, I'm sorry, we don't have it. This was like a Thursday. We won't have it till Tuesday. I remember thinking,
Jason: and that was to help you feel better
Mo: to help me better. Right.
Jason: And this is when Thursday's the low point.
Mo: Yeah. And they will not be able to make me
Jason: do anything about it.
Mo: So I'm looking at a weekend of not happy. So I said to her, I said, isn't there any way you can call another pharmacy for me and find out perhaps they have it. No, the answer was no period. And at the same moment, the, Intercom was playing, the new Christy minstrels. There's a new world somewhere. It's an old song. I want to say from the seventies, late seventies, it's the new Christy minstrels. And it's called a new world somewhere. They call the promised land and I'll be there somewhere. If you can hold my hand. Okay. Now I'm going to cry, dad. And I love that song. Now this is back before dad died. So our song is playing in Walgreens. Oh. I said the name of the place and they can't get my medication to make me even feel better. And I am so sick. I sat down in the chair and I remember saying to God, take me now. Take me home.
Jason: So you would have preferred to have died
Mo: right there in that chair
Jason: that moment.In that chair. That must've been quite the low point
Mo: That was the low point
Jason: To prefer death versus living in that
Mo: moment. I said, I'm ready. This is it. Well, I mean, the song made me emotionally sad, the, I felt terrible physically, so then add in the emotional. Then I have this person who says I can't get you the medicine.
Jason: Yeah. You'd rather die.
Mo: Yes. Take me home. I'm ready. Yeah. I mean, I probably, wasn't being honest with God. You know?
Jason: what advice would you give to others that are about to go through that type of an experience? Because chemotherapy I'm sure is different for everybody. There's going to be some really low points that probably have what you just described. What advice would you give to people that are going to go through that?
Mo: You have no choice. You, you don't know how strong you are until you have no other choice, but to be strong seriously. And you sit there and you think, okay, am I going to sit on my pity pot and cry here? Or we'll have to figure this out? You know, you just, it was just, just know there's going to be low points. There are going to be times emotionally where you think, Oh, Is this really worth it. And, you know, especially as I was saying to him, I said, well, I'm 68. I mean, my, all my grandparents were dead by 68. Of course my mother is alive. But, you know, you're just saying to yourself, it's this it's, there are, there are, there are low points and be prepared for them. And you know, it's, that's not, that's nothing wrong with crying and there's nothing wrong with saying this is really hard.
Jason: And so you're sitting there, you're crying. The song is playing. You'd rather have death over life at that moment. I assume that at some point, bill walks by with a bottle of Insure
Mo: and I thought, I don't even want to see that insure because I was not in good shape and he said, he looked at me and he said, is everything okay? And I said, I said, yes. And he said, I'll go look for it. He knew just let her alone a customer that was behind me, said to me, Why don't you try one of the 24 hour, pharmacies. They tend to have the stock. Now I had hoped that this woman would do it for me,
Jason: but she was not.
Mo: And he said to me, there's a 24 hour pharmacy, about two and a half, three miles down the road. And I went and they had it.
Jason: That's great. it's amazing. I mean, you think. Just putting yourself in the position of that pharmacist at the Walgreens. I'm sure that if she or he knew what you were going through clearly
Mo: a reminder to self that we don't know what other people are going through and then reach out, do more over, over serve.
Jason: Okay. Absolutely. Absolutely. So thatwas your low point for chemo that that's two months in to a five month. A program and
Mo: there were other embarrassing, low points, but never emotional low points. gastrointestinal problems from the Whipple and the chemo combo, required that I would carry extra underwear in my purse. And my underwear bill was quite high. Cause I was throwing them out. I didn't tell that I never shared that with you. That was an issue.
Jason: That's an issue. That's already, you had the budget for that.
Mo: I had the budget for it. Yes, it was,
Jason: just to set aside some savings for the underwear, the underwear, a budget. Okay.
Mo: Somebody would say, well, why wouldn't you buy disposable? That would have been dispressed depressing for me. I'd understand what had been in admission. Yeah. That's all I want to understand.
Jason: We want to maintain the standard, your routine. And I think that's totally fair. So, so, but it is interesting that you're two months in, you have this tremendous emotional point, which is also a physical low point, right. And yet chemo is a cumulative thing for you. Did that mean that your physical lows were lower in month three, four and five, versus when you were there, which sounded pretty darn low. It got worse, but emotion,
Mo: maybe, maybe your tolerance becomes you get, you know, you'd get less able to tolerate it. Cause it's. You know, it does have some sort of, they have side effects. Let's be honest, you know? I mean, I would, I love to chirp like a bird and say, Oh my God, I never felt better. And I felt so good and that's not true. Now I told you children, I was feeling fine. I told my neighbors, I was feeling fine. Right. But no, no. I was not feeling fine.
Jason: So this is a five month siege. It sounds like, like really difficult physically and emotionally and
Jason: every Thursday, you probably, you know, kind of hate the arrival of every Thursday. And how long did you feel bad in that seven day cycle? Did you feel bad until Tuesday when you showed up for your next?
Mo: Yeah. You started Tuesday to Wednesday with the best
Jason: Tuesday and Wednesday, but Thursday through Monday was very difficult to stay through Monday
Mo: and Monday. And then, and the prednisone again had side effects. Everything has a side effect. So your goal is to have. Take nothing. Okay. That's your goal because everything's and you, you, you know, like the doctors are so good. God love dr. Harris. He would say, I can give you something for that. I can give you something for that and give you yeah. You know, I didn't tell him I cried in the drug store because he would have said, I can give you an antidepressant and that would have had a side effect. Right. You know, you try to, so, you know, I would choose what I would share with them, which is not a good advice for any patient.
Jason: Okay. You know, your advice is to be candid with your doctor and be honest,
Mo: and then also be candid and say, listen, you know, I had an, I had a meltdown Walgreens, and you find yourself, Yeah. It's it's, it's, it's, it's very complex because you do want to put up a good front. Remember your family and bill are worrying and you're worrying about, am I going to make it through this pancreatic cancer a then you're going to worry if, Oh my gosh, look what this is doing to her. It's hurting her. It's she's down. She's she sad that would add even worse. Yeah. So you don't want to do that to you.
Jason: So you're trying to keep up a happy front for bill and for the rest of the family. and, but yet you're feeling horrible, and emotionally going through a roller coaster with a lot of lows, and this is over five months, that's a long time to be going through.
Mo: Yeah, Jason, you know how I am. If someone comes into my house, I stand up. I'm making something for them. I'm serving. I would sit in my seat on the sofa. I had my own spot and I would not move. If people came into the house, let them come in, let them sit down, help yourself. Now that was so that shows you how the energy level was really drained.
Jason: So this is over five months and you know, at what point. Did you see the end of that tunnel? And you started to notice, wait a minute, I can see October 21st. I've got to make it, I'm going to get to that date. At what point did that, did the, you know, kind of the, the end of chemo become a real thing to you in terms of line of sight?
Mo: Well, you know, I would send an email to each of you, the whole family, Every chemo. Entitled like chemo. One, two, three, keep a one. Oh my gosh. I love it. Yeah. And I couldn't wait to go to chemo every Tuesday. I couldn't wait because I'm going to see my friends. Tuesday's a great day. And every Tuesday is closer to October 21st.
Jason: That's true.
Mo: So, you know,
Jason: and there was a test of your blood work and when you pass that test with another goal, because that means that it doesn't extend the day.
Mo: Don't want to extend the date. Went to several doctors in between for, wound care. Yes. Everybody was focused on trying to get this thing to heal. as it turned out, it was not going to heal until December
Mo: Evelyn came every day till I was off chemo for a significant amount of time. And it healed slowly, slowly, slowly, the whole closed.
Jason: They never stitched it.
Mo: Never stitched it. Okay. Never was mentioned a stitching. I don't think they could, because it would trap.
Jason: Oh, the things that
Mo: now about I never, so I went to several, wound care specialists, hoping that somebody would know the magic, which never
Jason: there was no magic
Mo: and so had to go through that. And that was just fine because Evelyn came every single day. Evelyn was. We just had such an amazing rapport. And so that was positive. That that was the positive thing. Yeah. she had so many things that she would say that were more therapy than RN. You know, she had this thing about you are the bus driver of your own bus. This is what she would tell me. She called me Mo you're the bus driver of your own bus. And as you're driving through life, you're picking up people. And you're dropping off people. She said, you, as the driver, when someone gets on your bus, that's negative, you have the right to take them and throw them off the bus, throw them off the bus and you can bring them back on later. But you, if they're impeding your progress forward, take them and take them off them. And you visualize them going off the bus and sitting on the bench, you know, so I had a particular person in my life as I was going through chemo nameless. Who did not bring positivity to the table, brought negativity. Yeah. And I'm constantly reminded me how I was looking thin and not looking well, which I do. I had a mirror. And so I had to take her off my bus. I put her back on
Jason: what's the advice you would give to people in terms of how to act, how to be supportive in ways that are appreciated as opposed to unintentionally, you know, not appreciated.
Mo: Just, you know, if, if like you guys would call and say, how are you feeling? I'd say fine. Oh, I'm really glad. And then change subject to life. It's about life. You don't want to talk about cancer. You don't want to talk about chemo. You want to talk about. What we're going to do in the future, what our plans are. yeah, because it's life. Yeah. It's it's
Jason: you don't want to lose the opportunity to be living.
Mo: Yeah. This is an inconvenience. I call it, this was a major inconvenience in 2014. Okay. However, it will always be remembered as one of the best years of my life. Okay.
Jason: Why do you say that?
Mo: We'll share that later?
Jason: Okay. So we can come back to that later and back to that, that'd be important. mostpeople would not say getting diagnosed with pancreatic
Mo: cancer, one of the best years of my life.
Jason: Okay. So we'll get back to that in our final episode, because I think that's probably incredibly important to cover. so you're, you mentioned that you're starting to see October 21st, which is your last scheduled, chemo, right? And yet the effects for you are cumulative, right? So I'm assuming you're feeling worse and worse and worse every Thursday through Monday, but emotionally you are so excited.
Mo: You're on a cloud because you're saying I am there.
Jason: So you're powering through this, your emotions. Right. Never been higher during the five months cycle, but your physic physical, kind of, aspects are, are, are never been more depleted. It sounds like.
Mo: And they're doing blood tests all the time and they're looking at the numbers. The numbers are very important to them and the cancer flag numbers, and he would come in and he would say, Oh, my gosh, your numbers are so good today. And I would, I would always have the same response. I'd say, Oh, dr. Harris. I was up all night studying for these tests, but we would laugh. And so, then they would do CT scans, I would say, probably at that
Jason: while you'er were having chemo
Mo: while you're having chemo. And I had one at least
Jason: now it helped me understand the. The big,
Mo: to see if anything was growing.
Jason: of course, because that's one of the big risks of pancreatic cancer. I should say. It's the strongest, is among the strongest, if not the strongest form of cancer in terms of growth and recurrence. Right. And so help me understand where your emotional state was. I assume you knew that pancreatic cancer, which makes those CT scans incredibly, you know, critical. And, and so help me understand what your state of mind was in the middle of chemo, which is hard enough. You have to go in there and you have to go through a CT scan where I assume you knew. That the risk of recurrence was very real, very real given the statistics of pancreatic cancer and the recurrence rates. So help me understand what would go through your head and your emotional state.
Mo: Yeah. You dread it because you think, Oh my gosh. Suppose, you know, again, one of the reasons people don't go to doctors is because they don't want them to find anything. So if they, if you don't. Nothing's found nothing exists. That's obviously in a foolish mind, however, that's, you know? Yeah. So you, you dread the CT scans. They, they that's just you'd read them because. And the worst day is the day before the CT scan. And the best day is when you've heard the results from the doctor
Jason:when it's positive,
Mo: when it's positive,
Jason: when it's good news.
Mo: Yeah. Okay. Okay. You know, you can help a think even long after just had a CT scan on May 21st night before. What if they find something. Right. Not that you know, I'm dwelling on it, but it's there, it's like an it's in the background and it's gnawing and making it's taking away your perfect day because I have to have this CT scan. Then I meet with dr. Harris a week later and now they will. I assumed that they would call if it was negative.
Jason: Meaning if, if there was bad news,
Mo: bad news,
Jason: they would call it. Okay. Quickly.
Mo: so I used to think, Oh, I haven't heard from them. That's good news. So I met with dr. Harris. He said, Oh, it couldn't be better. It's perfect. Everything's you don't now we're just going to do them once a year. Okay. You know, first it was quarterly then it was every six months and now it's once a year. Okay. Okay. That doesn't mean that once a year, you still do. I don't feel
Jason: so that feeling never goes away. Every time you do a CT scan, it's dreadful because what are they going to find? So that's something that you'll live with for the rest of your life. Right? So
Mo: Rest of my life, and then the day they tell you, it's wonderful. You think I'm going to live forever? That's I need you come to that silly, extreme. Yeah, you really do. And they, interestingly enough, I go to the same place for the CT scans and I've gotten to know the technician. Well, the first time. That I had experienced with this technician. She's extremely fervent person and she must've picked up that I was religious, not clearly as religious as she is. However, she said to me, she went to the back and she, you know, they take a test shot and then they give you something to drink and they put something in your arm. It's with contrast, without contrast it sort of just a bigger thing. So she comes in and she said, She took the picture and she came in and she said, let's say a prayer together. And I thought, Oh God, this is it she's seen something, she's seen something and she's going to pray with me. So she said the prayer and we held hands and then she did the rest of the procedure with the contrast and everything. And I remember leaving, thinking. There's something in there, but this was her way. This was her way and it's okay. There was nothing in there. It was perfectly fine. And the next time I came back for a CT scan, the same time I see her Laurie. So I said, I told her, I said, Lori, when you said let's pray together. I thought you saw something. She said, Oh no, no. Oh, I'm so sorry. I never meant to do that. I never meant to take that. That
Jason: is funny. So, so getting back to the chemo,
Jason: October 21st.
Mo: you and Jamie surprised me at Dr. Harris. This is true. Remember you flew in,
Jason: we did, we did. And, and I, I'm just curious sort of, what did it feel like when you act, you know, at the end of that multi hour treatment on that last day, what was the, your feelings are sweet,
Mo: bitter sweet, because you're, you're finished, you're finished. It's over. But what am I going to do Tuesdays? Yeah. What am I going to do too? So,
Jason: because there were a band of brothers,
Mo: these are my friends and I went and cried and hugged everybody. And, when you come back and ask how they, somebody is, they're not allowed to tell you,
Jason: okay. Because of HIPAA regulations and things like that, were there people over that five month period that didn't make it,
Mo: there were.
Jason: And how does is, is that something that. You know,
Mo: there was a, the gentlemen that I become very close to and, and I got to know heand his partner well, and he had liver cancer and that was terribly sad because he was much, much younger than I in his fifties. And they had just bought a house. So there was, you get the whole backstory, you get to love these people and you want so badly, so badly. And then, yeah, that's, that's. And then that's another episode to talk about, survivor guilt.
Mo: Oh my goodness.
Jason: Well, we'll, we'll talk about survivor guilt coming up, you know, in the next, episode, because I, I want to talk about the post chemo.
Mo: Post-Chemo is very interesting
Jason: challenges is very interesting. And then of course, your sort of takeaways in terms of all of this, including survivors guilt, and I'd love to hear more about why you believe 2014 was among the best years of your life, which is. It's very counterintuitive to me to put it mildly.
Mo: So you wouldn't think so say now that would be the worst.
Jason: So thank you Mo. So let's, let's wrap this up and looking forward to the next one.
Mo: It's a wrap.
Jason: Thank you for listening to this third episode of the Mo Chronicles navigating pancreatic cancer in the next final episode of this four episode series, we'll cover Mo's experience with her six month chemo hangover. Broken vertebrae, additional surgery, survivor guilt, and the reasons behind Mo's unexpected, positivity about it all.