I battled bronchitis for a month. This battle included a short respite from my daily dose of Sprycel. Sprycel is often referred to as oral chemotherapy. My understanding is that is a TKI inhibitor. This inhibitor blocks the abnormal protein called BCR-ABL, hopefully resulting in a molecular remission.
There are many side effects that come along with Sprycel. I suppose the most life threatening one is a heart rhythm condition called “QT prolongation.” The other side effects include low white cell counts, that may lead to infections (hence the bronchitis), low platelet counts (which could cause bleeding), a collection of fluid in the chest (probably why my doctor took me off of it for ten days, while I had bronchitis), diarrhea, headaches, edema, low blood calcium levels, slight abnormalities in liver function tests, tiredness, muscle pain, skin rash fever, hair loss and yes there are more. Just like any drug, there are risks. One must always weigh the risks against the outcome. In my case, I have no option; it is either live with the side effects or die. It is a simple choice.
Not ingesting the Sprycel for ten days gave me the opportunity to revisit the person that I was before I got leukemia. I don’t really know how to explain this, other than despite the fact that I had bronchitis; I began to feel much more energetic and carefree. I thought that maybe it was because I was feeling better and getting over the bronchitis, but this happier, livelier person kept emerging, day after day. The sun just seemed to shine brighter. Towards the end of the ten days, I felt really good; I was really happy and full of life. I felt like myself again. I hadn’t even noticed the change and wasn’t even sure that it was real. I really thought that I was reacting to being well again.
That thought did not last long. The very day that I resumed taking the Sprycel, I noticed an overwhelming sadness. It wasn’t that I was actually “sad” per se, I was actually "happy", yet a sadness had set up shop in my soul. I know that this probably makes no sense at all, but it is there; I am happy, yet have sadness; it is an oxymoron, for sure. I wasn’t thinking about the medication or the fact that I had leukemia. Taking the meds is now part of my routine and I really don’t think about it anymore. I really didn’t even put my finger on it until the second day.
Sprycel causes sadness in my soul; kind of like being embraced by a gloomy cloud. It is really hard to explain, but it is sort of like a cloudy day; while you may be having the greatest time of your life, if clouds are present, they create a different atmosphere than sunshine does. It is not a conscious sadness and it is not depression; I am still a “happy” person and a pure optimist, but I now am looking through smoke filled glasses as opposed to rose colored ones. Fact of the matter is; Sprycel makes me sad. Perhaps melancholy is a more appropriate word. When I figure it out and can put it into words, maybe I will write an update.
It is a very strange realization, one that I am not sure that I would have ever recognized if I had not been allowed to briefly revisit my old self. It is not listed as a side effect, but I wonder of others have noticed this change. I will tell my doctor at my next visit; my fear is that he will think that I am depressed. It is not a depression, it is not debilitating and it is not life consuming. It is simply a change in who I am; I prefer the old me, but I shall learn to like the new me, too. I will accept the fact that I now cry at more commercials than I used to and understand why the dead baby bird on the front porch haunted me for days. I felt so sad about the bird that I even cried for its’ mother. Ugh, I have become a sap! I miss the other me…..