Hard to believe that another 10,000 minutes have passed by, but that is what happens every week. I am back in the chemo chair at Salem Hospital, dripping my way through another 800 mg of Leucovorin, 800 mg of Fluorouracil, and 360 mg of Irinotecan. Should only be another 100 minutes, according to the pump rate and remaining volume. Then I will have a bonus 2880 minutes of Fluorouracil delivered via portable pump (whirrr-click every 75 seconds... only 2,304 clicks!). You should just see my awesome Poppy-Pocket pump holder - all elasticness, with a couple neat pouches for the pump and tubing. Fits under clothes and everything. Too bad it didn't come with Ginzu knives. :)
But seriously, so far the worst part of my treatment regimen seems to be my flaky/itchy/red face, a cold nose (though, remarkably, it only seems to be cold on the inside and not on the flaky-skinned outside), and the interminable 2,304 clicks from the 5-FU pump. Go figure. I have taken a couple of recliner-induced naps, and feel generally decent right now.
This week, I registered for and began an exercise class that is especially designed for cancer patients and survivors. It is taught/overseen by my friend, Nancy, and I have enjoyed seeing her again (though she said that it would have been OK with her to get together without the cancer recurrence). There are ten exercise stations (so to speak) and we use weights, stepping boxes, resistance bands, and lifting benches to maintain and strengthen major and minor muscle groups. The objective is two-fold: (a) keep as much lean muscle mass as possible during and after chemo, and (b) keep everyone's mind and body engaged in healthy activity that will help with recovery and general strength.
Now, some of you may know that I have returned to a modest level of bicycle fanaticism over the past three years (OK - maybe it is more than modest). So I figured I would probably be in OK shape for these exercises. Well, let's just say that I have needed to be more of a generalist and less of a specialist in the training department, and leave it at that. :) My trainer is totally awesome.
The exercises that are the toughest for me are: (a) side squats down the hallway and back, and (b) simple balancing (where we each stand on one foot and then lift and sweep the other foot in a semicircle from front to back, or lifting one leg, extending it the the side, and then moving it across in from of the other leg). My thighs were burning during and after those two, and they are supposedly my strongest muscles from riding. Sometimes we just kid ourselves about where our strengths lie, yes?
I have also been thinking about mental exercises - you know, the "positive thinking optimistic future" ones. After Chemo, Part II - Round One two weeks ago, I will admit to a small abandonment of my general positivity. But that has turned around. Yesterday I was filled with love and support from professional friends as they met in conference and I was "listening in" on a conference phone. I missed seeing them, but felt like I was there amidst the laughter and serious discussions of the present and future of NSGIC (National States Geographic Information Council).
Exercise is good for your body and for your mind.