Tag Archives: chemotherapy

Update on the “C” Word

Tomorrow (Saturday), husband and I leave for Houston for my quarterly visit to M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital.  Sunday afternoon will be the CT scan, early Monday morning a bone scan, then two doctor appointments following that.

I’m more nervous than usual this time. This was the trial period for this particular chemo, which had been very effective when I had it before.  But because of severe side effects, I’ve missed two of the six treatments. I’m not sure what effect that has on determining if the drugs are working. And if they are, I most certainly would have to have a much-reduced dosage to continue on this regimen. My main reaction is severe mucositis, and there is no way I can go through what I had to experience the last round – a liquid diet for at least a week and even that with a lot of discomfort. And of course, reduced dosage means reduced effectiveness.

So, that leaves us with either the newest drug on the market for colon cancer – the name of which I don’t remember – or moving into clinical trials where I become a guinea pig for an as yet unapproved chemotherapy. Based on earlier discussions, I also suspect that there may not be total agreement between my local oncologist and the MDA onc on the best route to take.

I worry that this increased pain is from the cancer.  I’ve tried all kinds of other explanations – some of which, I think, may have some validity: a joint problem from 40 years ago, knotted muscles, flat feet, stress. But I haven’t wanted to admit that maybe some, most, or all of it is due to cancer. The scans should show if and how much the cancer has spread, if that’s an explanation for the pain.

And, to add insult to injury, this couple of days requires lots of walking (the M.D. Anderson facility is like a small city), which I’m not sure I’m up for, given the continuous pain I’ve had lately in my right hip and lower back. Wheelchair, then? The idea is very repugnant to me.

So that’s why I’m in such a grousy mood right now. That, and being REALLY tired from travel lag. I even hate to subject an RA picture to this much negativity, so I’ll leave this post unadorned.

Hopefully, tomorrow will seem brighter with some sleep. Hopefully, it will be good news from the scans, and I’ll come back on Monday evening and say, “Never mind. It’s not bad at all.” Hopefully….

Bad News, Good News, But It’s OK, I think – And Other Miscellaneous Thoughts

Can I go here?  Right Now?

                                                South Padre Island – Can I go here? Right Now?

Bad News: My chemotherapy was postponed this week. That means that this round I only got 4 instead of 6 treatments. Is that enough to find out if this concoction will work? Oncologist (onc) says yes. I hope he’s right. It also means that I’ll be going a full month with no treatment at all. Possibly have one round the first week of June, but it’s iffy. Again, the onc says it’s not a make it or break it deal. He said my CEA (tumor marker test) has been all over the place, bouncing up and down for the past 5 months, so it’s not telling us anything.  Hope he’s right there too. And that the M.D. Anderson doc that I see in early June, agrees. The proof will be in the scans that MDA does, of course.

Good News: My chemotherapy was postponed this week. There was no question. Onc says he simply will not subject me to more drugs when I haven’t fully recovered from the last round. This after looking in my mouth and apparently seeing an very unpleasant sight. Even made my husband look too. Onc is very big on quality of life and not compromising my health any further. You probably have heard of people having serious, even life-threatening, side effects from the chemo. My doc is trying to control the disease as much as possible, but still allow me to enjoy life.  This is different than the “curative” approach, when they figure you won’t mind being totally miserable for a while if it means you can get rid of the monster for good.

So this means that I get a break. Good for two reasons: Next weekend our daughter graduates from Savannah College of Art and Design. The whole family plans to be there, and I’ll be able to enjoy the event, with the main chemo holdover probably being fatigue. Second, it is nice to be able to eat, maybe sleep, and generally (kind of) forget about cancer for a while. Except for the bone pain, which is more or less controllable with opioids.

Miscellaneous thoughts for today:

  • I had to send a “sign off” email to the final client of our consulting business, telling them we would no longer be in business. After 20+ years of this, it’s hard for me to give up such a large part of my identity. In the last 5 years or so I did much of the work myself – conducting meetings (most requiring 4-5 hours of nighttime driving), talking with small town elected officials, grant applications and administration, planning, and writing, writing, writing. But it is definitely time to move on – just give me a minute to grieve………………
  • Kind of chuckling at myself: I’ve taken on the task of designing the graduation card for our daughter. Me, artistically and graphically challenged, coming up with something for our oldest who is getting her second art degree, this one in illustration. Of course, she won’t care because it will be Mom who made it specially for her.
  • Actually managed to eat something with vinegar (tuna nicoise) last night without cringing. Pain is minimal. Progress! Although lunch today demonstrated that I’m not ready for Mexican food, yet.
  • Dark and “raining like a big dog” here, as my older brother would say.  Hence, my wish to be teleported to the location above.  And while we’re at it, can this guy just happen to be on the same beach? Thanks! 🙂
ep8-4

I know this leather is too hot for the beach, but after all, it is Guyday! And I didn’t want to seem like I was inserting gratuitous shirtlessness by using you-know-which photos! Source: RichardArmitageNet.com; my edit.

  • One update not in the original post. Duh, how could I forget this?! Our youngest recently won a drawing at his college campus and made quite a haul: 47″ TV, blu-ray/3D player-sound system, XBox, games. He got to pick 4 movies, and so, sweet boy that he is, he got LOTR extended editions and The Hobbit, which I think is 3-D. I was holding out for the Hobbit EE, but, hey, I’ll settle for this. Happy Day!
  • Finally, in the “This is What I’m Talking About” department: while looking for inspiration for the grad card, I meandered through the daughter’s online portfolio/notes and found the following. Not only is it food for thought as we buzz about this Friday afternoon, but it makes me incredibly proud to be able to claim this amazing young woman.  I hope some day to tell you her name and show you how beautiful she is on the outside as well as the inside. Definitely a “purr” moment! 🙂 🙂

Runner

 

I will move over for you runner

Coming up behind me

And I would like to congratulate

You, for you’ll make better time

Than I.

 

But I bet you didn’t notice how

Clear the river is today

The way the triangular

Shapes between the branches

Of the trees morph into

New shapes as you move,

Or the great blue heron

Perfectly framed between two

Drooping branches marked

On either side by dried grasses

Caught in the limbs from the flood.

 

And I bet the heron didn’t turn

To look at you. But did you at least notice

The lady in the red top and

Black pants with big

Sunglasses and her hair pulled

Back, staring at the scenery until

She turned to give you a nod and

A faint smile?

 

Ah well, then that’s something.

Sometimes You Just Get So Low

WARNING: Downer cancer discussion to follow.  Will totally understand if you’re looking for more positive way to spend your leisure time. If you are unable to make a quick trip to a beach (I can’t either), here are some suggestions:  1. Listen to reggae – I use Spotify a lot for impromptu music listening. 2. Go get a frozen yogurt – you know – CherryBerry, Yogo Bowl, whatever your local place is called. 3. Check out the latest RA discovery from Mr. Ascroft:

RobertAscroft-21

Photograph by Robert Ascroft. From richardarmitagenet.com, 2012 Promo Gallery.

Whew, that helps.

For me, cancer is such a roller coaster. The goal is to rise above what’s happening to you physically, see yourself as a spectator in the everyday events of your life. Cancer may kill you, so do all these things to make the most out of your life now. But sometime I get so tired of hearing how I should think, what I should eat, do these exercises everyday, just have this kind of attitude. Be happy, you have an incurable disease.

Reasons for the downer attitude: I’m near the end of the two-week chemo cycle. Usually I feel really good by now, the side effects having subsided during the middle of the cycle. But this time was unusually rough, with mouth sore issues to the point where I was unable to eat solid food for a week. I guess it was nice to lose a little weight, but I don’t recommend that particular diet plan. The hip/back pain I deal with, due to a combination of the cancer and a chronic condition I’ve had for years, had been substantially better for the past two weeks. It returned two days ago, at the same intensity as before. That plus fatigue and “digestive issues” due to weird diet and/or chemo, has left me feeling very frustrated.

Here’s why: Because of the extreme side effects this time, I’m afraid my oncologist will want me to hold off on another chemo treatment until my next trip in early June to M.D. Anderson for scans and “re-staging.” That is, they see if/how much the cancer has “progressed” (That’s a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one.) and decide on what treatment to do next. First, that means going about 5 or 6 weeks with no treatment.  Second, I’m reaching the end of the officially accepted treatments for colon cancer. There may be one other chemo drug to try, but then the next step  is to get into a clinical trial, which seems like the last ditch effort to control the disease before they give up on you entirely. At least that’s what it feels like. And it’s scary. For all the talk about reaching the spiritual plane where you find peace and acceptance, when it starts to become real, it’s just damn scary.

Slowly this disease and its treatment seem to be sapping my strength, my resolve to keep fighting, and the “wow, you’ve got a great attitude, you should blog about this” attitude. My body doesn’t seem to bounce back as fast from chemo, the cancer has continued to gradually grow. I just get tired of it all.

You see there are problems we (meaning husband and I) try not to over-stress about because they’re “fixable.” Relationship issues, financial woes, career choices, children’s’ issues, and so on – these will have a end to them. Somehow they will resolve themselves. Cancer – at the stage where I am – is probably not fixable, unless some new medical discovery or a miracle comes to the rescue. Everyone, please understand I’m not trying to downgrade anyone else’s major life issues. Your life causes pain, frustration, and anxiety that you must deal with.  It is not small stuff. Things seem insurmountable and unresolvable. I’ve been there, too. But I need to rant; please indulge me.

Sorry for all the rambling. I just needed to do this – to “grouse” a bit. Do you think going into the back yard and screaming will help? What’s that? More Armitage, you say? Maybe something beachy, summery? And remember the mantra – live in the moment? Ok, I’ll try.

RobertAscroft-20

Photograph by Robert Ascroft. From richardarmitagenet.com, 2012 Promo Gallery.

Low and Slow This Week

So, with all sorts of grandiose plans to finish out the page for spirituality, learn how to use photos without violating copyright or being placed in cyberspace stocks, and otherwise spread comments around some of the incredible blogs I’m following, I’ve done none of that.  Blame it on the “C” word, or rather the treatment for it. Not going into it here, but suffice it to say chemo sucks.

Only consolation (other than a caring family) is some beautiful RA pics/edits that have come out recently. Unfortunately it hurts to smile, but that doesn’t stop me from looking!