The on-going, first-hand tale of a journey through medical oncology... and what happens after.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Life (as it is) in Chemo-World

As we all know, life and living is a series of time-snapshots. I wake up whenever I do (anywhen from 5am 'til 6:30am), step through a morning (and mid-day, and evening) ritual, and then go back to bed. Not too earthshaking, not particularly boring... you might have a similar routine, or not. My point here being that we take a lot of living and of life for granted. And I am absolutely certain that I have touched on these ideas before, but bear with me. I might surprise you!

Our routines help us to adjust to and accept the bumps in the road that pop up from time-to-time. Who would have thought that a diagnosis of colon cancer would set my professional career back on track as a State employee? And how could anyone predict that that work would feel so good to be doing (again)? Not this guy, that's for darned sure. But I do miss the carefree, unscheduled time that I used to get to spend with my daughter, and heartily look forward to the end of this treatment regimen. The support of friends, family, and new acquaintances as I travel the chemo-highway-to-health is an unexpected source of warmth and joy in my life.

So, how about a little advice from the road? From two different supportive friends, I offer the following weblink to you, my reader:

Hopefully, if you cut-and-paste the link into your browser, you will be electronically transported to the virtual world of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). This is a summary of some recent research on nutrition and colon cancer (especially focused on us "survivors"), but good information for all of us to consider. It is in the "what goes in, what comes out" genre of non-fiction, and considers a little of "what may happen along the way", so to speak. I share it because I care about you (and because I care about me, about my wife, and most importantly, about my daughter and our collective eating habits). The full article is also worth reading, but you gotta pay to download it, I think. :( [Just for the record, I am not giving up filet mignon just yet.]

So, what else is new from Chemo-World, you ask? Not so much, really. My blood work continues to slowly adjust downward (expected, as the cumulative effect of the drugs continues to wear down the fast-replicating cells in my bone marrow and gut). I lost three pounds over the past two weeks, but again this is expected and OK. I am lying in bed today, recovering from my 6th (halfway done!) treatment last Wednesday, which is part of my chemo-routine/life. In case that routine is not firmly lodged in your mind, here's a brief synopsis:
(1) Get up early - drive 70 minutes to Portland - check in at Cancer Clinic by 8:30am
(2) Blood drawn - if OK compared to protocol, receive chemo over next 4 hours
(3) Leave Clinic with 5FU pump attached - sleep in car during drive home
(4) Become horizontal for rest of day
(5) Work next two days with 5FU pump attached, taking anti-emetic drugs
(6) Attempt to deal with constipation and heartburn effects of the anti-emetics and 5FU
(7) "De-access" 5FU pump, and deal with extreme fatigue and lack of appetite
(8) Assume horizontal resting position over next two days, with some exercise thrown in

Quite the routine, eh? I then return to work on the following Monday. There are other interesting details, like what I have to do to take a shower with a tube attached to my chest and a pump attached to the tube... let's just say that I have become an expert in the clinical use of Saran Wrap and waterproof medical tape (imagine thin, clear Duct Tape). I only have to perform that taping procedure on two mornings each two weeks, though, and it's just another (unpredicted) part of my chemo-routine.

That feels like enough typing for today... Live well, eat well, and love each other.

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