Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chemo Round Seven

I had Chemo Round Seven today (technically yesterday -- I don't know if I'm still up due to being off schedule from a five-day weekend or because of the steroids), and thankfully no major issues.

I did have my Vitamin D levels checked at the advice of my mother. It turns out she was on the right track because it turns out I'm deficient, which I never even considered possible given that I live in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. [Quick review of Vitamin D: Aids the immune system and been seen to help prevent certain cancers. Also helps absorption of calcium, necessary for healthy bones. Naturally obtained from exposure to sunlight. Also available in supplements, fortified milk, etc.] Thinking over it a bit more, I do work in a cube farm and I layer on the SPF 85 pretty thick when engaging in outdoor activities. Lately, I've also avoided the sun as much as possible due to sun sensitivity from the chemo. A weak immune system is my biggest threat right now, so I'll definitely be popping the supplement pills and basking in a "nominal" amount of unprotected sun exposure. Getting knocked down from a normally minor infection is bad news, but so are melanoma and premature aging.

Apparently something I'm not deficient in is the poundage. From the beginning of treatment, the docs always prepared me for the worst case scenario (for good reasons, of course). They told me I'd be nauseous, including a decreased appetite and difficulty keeping food down. They even predicted I'd lose 15 lbs. by the end of the six months, even though I started out 10 lbs. underweight due to a holiday stomach virus. Although proper weight/nutrition is still a valid concern for many cancer patients, it has become rarer with the advances in technology and anti-nausea meds. In summary, four months of indulgent eating habits along with a largely sedentary lifestyle have given me back those 10 lbs., two-fold. You might be thinking, "Why fret about it? You have cancer. Take it easy and enjoy what simple pleasures you can." Normally I would agree, but the docs said that additional weight gain would dictate an increase in dosage to stay in the correct proportion ranges. More drugs because I'm mas chubikins? No thanks! I'll get my ass in fightin' shape! (....after I finish the bacon in the fridge. Wasting food is just unconscionable.)

June 9: Chemo Round Eight
June 19: PET-CT scan. That'll be my "report card" for the four months of chemo. I'm hoping to make the Dean's List.
June 22: Chemo Round Nine and PET-CT results

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Science is cool

In case you haven't heard about the recent Daniel Hauser case, here's a link from yesterday:

In summary, a judge has ruled that the family of a 13-year-old boy cannot refuse to submit him for chemotherapy to treat his Hodgkins lymphoma. The family prefers to rely instead on alternative methods. Specifically:
Colleen Hauser testified at the earlier hearing that her son "is not in any medical danger." She said she had been treating his cancer with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and other natural alternatives.
All I can say is good luck with that! Me, I'll stick with treatments tested via the scientific method, thank you very much.

In other news, here's a video clip from my tandem parachute jump last month:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chemo Round Six (halfway there...)

Yesterday, was round six which marks the halfway point for my *projected* treatment (i.e. best-case scenario). Hooray! Before the usual nausea kicked in, I was able to celebrate by attacking and destroying a full five courses at The Olive Garden, so my appetite is, ahem, normal. (All-you-can-eat sushi, your time will come, just you wait.) The stomach is feeling a bit more uneasy today, but relatively consistent with my previous experience. And my experience (i.e. functionality) continues to surprise my docs and nurses. Every time I visit they read over this loooong list of symptoms/side effects that I may have had over the last two weeks, and I'm supposed to answer "yes" or "no." Rarely have I answered anything but "no," and those times were usually "kinda/sorta/mildly." In general, I do feel pretty good and am glad for it. I will say that hair has started to fall out of peculiar places, and I'll just leave it at that....

Ironically, one thing that has slowed me down is the big toenail I had removed (by a doctor, to prevent infection) last week due to a soccer injury (I'm hardcore, but you knew that). It's a fairly regular occurrence for me, actually, and I often remove them myself. This time, though, my usual Wolverine-like healing powers seem to have been impacted by the chemo. Btw, daily application of hydrogen peroxide hurts like &%*#@&_* and Day 7 has proven to be no better. I would like to have been back on the field by last weekend, but I'll probably take it easy for another week. Grrrrr.

On a different note, I've noticed that quite a few TV shows recently have had characters develop cancer. Breaking Bad (although that's the premise of the show), Nip/Tuck, Grey's Anatomy (this is due to roommate control of remote!), and now Rescue Me. Is this a new trend (i.e. I know cancer is involved in many TV plotlines over the years, but is it increasing?) or is it a regular thing that I've only taken note of (and perhaps taken interest in) due to my condition? I'm thinking the latter. Yes/no? Regardless, cancer awareness, especially when talking about early detection and diagnosis of treatable/preventable cancers, is ok by me. Using cancer as a way to slowly kill of a character played by a disgruntled actor (ahem, Grey's) seems a bit lame, though.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Minor setback.....very minor

I get to add a podiatrist to the growing list of medical professionals I've visited in the last few months.

I slammed my big toe pretty hard two weeks ago playing soccer. I was hoping it was just bruised, but it turns out that the nail died and was ready to come off. This is about the fourth or fifth time it's happened in the last six years, so no biggie. In fact I usually perform "the operation" myself. At the advice of my doc, I decided to allow a pro to take care of it due to the risk of infection (which I obviously can't tolerate these days).

Anyway, it went smoothly and I'm looking forward to running around again soon.