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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Feeling around in the dark

So, many several years ago, during my graduate school odyssey in central PA, I got a little bit hooked on spelunking. Crawling around in limestone caves (and there are dozens of them - big and small - in central PA) taught me quite a lot about myself. For example, if you do not look around - especially to the rear - you may have a difficult time retracing your steps. And, if you are the least bit concerned about tight spaces, you probably ought to avoid a little section of the J4 cave that is nicknamed "the birth canal." Lessons learned from spelunking definitely can apply to many aspects of above-ground living.

Silence in the blogosphere can provoke many thoughts and conclusions for a blog reader, and I realize that some folks see silence as a harbinger of news they do not want to hear. To be brief and to the point, I am tiring of the constant thought-space invasion that we label 'cancer.' The quotes signify that there are many non-physical characteristics to this ominous word; it's not just the surgery and chemotherapy effects that make up my cancer world. There are the thoughts and hopes for the future - sometimes dim, sometimes bright. There are the constant reminders from others that are newly diagnosed and starting treatment or survivor companions that have been walking a parallel path - that things are different now. And these intrusions into a normal (read - chaotic, unpredictable, semi-planned) life are unpleasant. But they are also uncontrollable.

A cave is an interesting metaphor... we wear headlamps in a cave, so that we can see any distance forward (and backward) at all... we invent tricks that help us understand where we are in reference to where we have been and where we are going... the noise of everyday living is absent (no cell phone reception, no background traffic sounds, only your breathing and the scrabbling echoes of your party's passage underground). Living with cancer feels like a cave sometimes. In the cave, it's all about concentrating on your journey. It can be lonely. It is certainly very dark at times, most notably when you are without a headlamp's light to help you to see. Sometimes, in a cave or in a life, you turn off the lamp - to rely on your other senses for a while. You can hear your own breathing much more clearly, and there are fantastic smells and tiny sounds that you do not hear without consciously trying. Sometimes we need that sensory deprivation in order to recharge.

I remain focused on finishing my six post-surgery chemo treatments. For whatever reason, the infusion days are harder now - I know what the crumminess feels like, and I dread it. I also know that the crummy feelings end and that there are only five more to go, with my next drip session on Tuesday. Please know that I am optimistic and getting stronger every week through exercise and cycling. I have tentative ideas about a bunch of rides for the fall and next year. The darkness is only temporary, and I know where the switch is for my headlamp.

Thanks for your support. I will try to be better about the frequency of my blogging. I promise. :-)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Chemo, part III

So, started on FOLFIRI again today. Have a feeling that my body is not quite ready for this poison. And only 5 more treatments. Whoopee.

The dexamethasone (anti-nausea glucocorticosteroid, really hypes me up!) seems to have made my eyesight all jittery and my head is achy. I am only comfortable lying down, and my gut is all kerfluffly again. Forced myself to eat some dinner, and back in the bed again. Hope that i am able to get some sleep tonight. Working tomorrow is still a bit of a variable.

I looked up the pharmacokinetics of dexamethasone, and it is resident in plasma for about 10 hours total, but the total time in-body is 36-54 hours. OMG. No wonder I crash on day three! And guess how the stuff is eliminated... Wait for it, wait for it... the liver! Guess we will find out how I am doing in that department real soon too.

Not to worry though, I am still in a good mental place. Oncologist complimented me on my blood work (you know I crammed for that blood test today) and thought my incision was "healing beautifully". And there were no real surprises during the chemotherapy infusion. My buddy Alison came to stay with me and gave me a ride home (after killing me two games out of three at backgammon). She even bought me some lunch. Love her to pieces, I do. And family took care of us at home all afternoon. Thanks tons. Love you guys too.

Done with this newsblog for today. Amen.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Two quick things...

(1) All is proceeding apace. My physical recovery is going well, and I am exercising under the supervision of my friend and trainer Nancy. But this does not mean that I am ready for river rafting (did not try this) or for backyard volleyball (tried and failed... stitches are still all secure... :-) ).

(2) The "post date" from the "Dreams" post is correct - it is when I began to draft the post. I only posted it the other day, though, and so it has generated some concern from folks. All remains well in blogland too.

Thanks for staying in touch.