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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thin skin

When your skin is dry and flaking all the time, and your face and scalp seem to shed a pound of flesh each day, it does not take too much imagination to think of being thin-skinned. I am pretty sure that, between the weekly cetuximab doses and the twice-daily doxycycline pills, I have never had such dry skin, and I would be surprised to learn that I have a normal number of skin layers protecting me from UV rays and what-not. And then there is the daily ablution and cover-myself-with-moisturizers activities that suck about thirty extra minutes from each day, which is enough to wear off the skin flakes even faster, and wonder how I would handle the daily application and removal of makeup.

But wait, that is not all! In addition to the physical effects of skin-thinning, we have a bonus of general personal prickliness - which I attribute to the fatigue of having chemical poisons pulsing through me on a regular basis, and the burden of thinking about an uncertain future for me and my loved ones. That is more sucky than the skin-shedding, in my opinion.

But enough complaining - on to the latest news! Well, there isn't any latest news. We talked with my oncologist on Wednesday pre-treatment, and she confirmed that the tumors are shrinking (though I had more detailed info than she shared with us) and that my blood work is quite good (though there was a slight drop in my phosphorus levels). She had spoken with the liver surgeon, but was uncertain about the means to decide between two additional chemo treatments (one more after this one) or four additional treatments. It made sense to all of us that there would need to be an additional CT scan, but her experience made her uncertain about getting one after just two more treatments and he had not been clear with her about that. She is checking in with him, and we should know something more soon. I imagine that we will need to take another trip to OHSU for a secondary consult in the near future. In any case, there will be a short (2-3 week) recovery period after the chemo in preparation for the surgery, and then another month to recover from that before we start chemo again. Woo-hoo.

So, working through things and living day-to-day... trying to exercise, trying to stay balanced, trying to remember things as the chemo-brain returns. Just your normal chemo experience, round two.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Preliminary good news

Today I underwent my first post-diagnosis CT scan. As I have certainly blogged about before, this involves a four-hour no-drinkee period and a one-hour drinkee-the-barium-solution period (which, by the way, has actually progressed from the detestable barium shake to a much-more-palatable barium-laced raspberry kool-aid). The scan was simple, especially with my PowerPort, and I was out before we knew it (with a dose of directed radiation that is hundreds if not thousands of times higher than most of the radiation that the US is detecting from the unfortunate Japanese reactor situation). I am profoundly unworried about the cumulative dosage of radiation that I am receiving intentionally.

But enough with the long-windedness already! I heard from my oncologist's office that the results are good, and that the tumors are shrinking demonstrably. They will confer with the liver surgeon between today and next Wednesday, when we will discuss next steps and so on. I believe that I will have at least one more chemotherapy treatment next week, but today's news means that the first phase of cancer, part two, is proceeding apace.

Thanks to all for the support via prayers, karma, thoughts, and hugs. I am somewhat relieved. :) The anxiety of not-knowing is so hard for me.