To start off this post – good news!
My latest PET scan has shown that the cancer is essentially gone! As you can see comparing the two images, #2 is basically free and clear. More detailed images show some small signs of activity, but too small of detail to show on this particular image.
This is great news! After only 4 treatments, the cancer is almost gone!
Now, that being said, I still have four more (including “today’s”) treatments, for a total of 8. That is 4 less than the original plan of 12 treatments! Yahoo!
Why more treatments? As I understand it, chemo is effective on cancerous areas up until a certain microscopic level. So, the goal is to do as much chemo as possible to reach/surpass this threshold. Should there still be cancerous regions, tumors, whatever, leftover, those can be treated with radiation therapy. For me, that will be determined later. Let’s hope I don’t need to do radiation. There is a chance that I won’t need it. There also is a chance, given the original bulky size of the nodes in my chest, that I’ll have the pleasure.
So my treatment schedule now takes me to the last week of the year. Thankfully, my schedule will be modified to avoid Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yay!
Nothing too different on the side-effects. I certainly had the worst bout of hiccups this time around. They left me in quite a lot of pain. After asking “what else ya got” besides “drink more water” and “take gas-x”, I was told I should try again the first anti-nausea medicine I was taking, as it is known to help with hiccups. (Prochlorperazine) Remember, the stuff that made me so damn drowsy?
Well, come to think of it, I never had hiccups after the first round, and I only took that medicine after the first round. So, it appears that I have to choose between debilitating hiccups, or intense, sleep-all-day drowsiness. I think I know what I’m picking! I can take it in conjunction with my current anti-nausea medicine that seems to work decently, although far from perfect. I guess staying in bed is the quickest, yet most unfulfilling way to ride out the 5 or 6 days of yuck.
Now that we are “in the weeds” with treatments, I think my chief complaint, besides the persistent nausea, is the fact that everything is catching up to me. I am quite a bit more tired than at the beginning. Fatigue is definitely setting it. It means a lot more resting, but it also means trying harder to beat the fatigue. It’s ok to rest, and to take more time to do so when the body needs it, but fatigue can be a dangerous rut to get into. Especially now with the winter coming quickly.
I am used to the fatigue from the pre-chemo cancer symptoms. They say the best way to fight fatigue is to keep moving, keep doing. That is definitely true! Somedays it is easier than others. Somedays my mind says “Ya! We’re going to do all this stuff today!” But my body says “no, stay right here on the couch”.
My hair looks pretty sad these days. That’s all I have to say about that.
I don’t want to have this blog sound like a lot of me bitching and moaning about my side effects, but at least to me personally, finding other folks’ blogs about their journeys through chemo, and the shit they had to put up with, definitely helped me prepare, and deal with things as they came. There are tons of resources out there from the government, hospitals, institutes and whatnot, and they are helpful inasmuch as serious informationals can be, but they don’t really tell the story about how it effects you the individual human. That you can only get from stories of others, and personally connecting with them if you can.
That’s why it’s been so nice to hear from so many people with their first-hand experiences, or their experience when their spouse went through chemo, and so on. I continue to receive wonderful, sweet cards, e-mails, and phone calls. I’m sorry if I don’t get back to you very quickly. I’m lucky if I remember I took my medicine.
With the holidays coming up, this will be the first Thanksgiving that Luyang and I will be away from the rest of the family. Normally Thanksgiving is the only major holiday that I get “off” and can spend with family. Well, it will be a bummer not being able to travel to be with everyone this year, but we will make the most of it here! My next treatment won’t be until after Thanksgiving! We have already got a big old turkey for fryin’, Luyang got the stuffing (I don’t eat that), and we’ve still to decide on the sides. I’m definitely making pies! It will be just the 3 of us, and that’s ok! It will be the same for Christmas. And also, my last treatment will follow Christmas, so I’ll be able to enjoy the days of Christmas as much as possible.
Advent/Christmas is my favorite time of year, for sure, especially when it comes to my job as a church musician and instrument repairman. December is usually insanely busy. Well, for the 2nd year in a row, it will be quite calm. No choir at church until I’m done with Chemo, little to no tuning work until I’m healed, and I won’t be at church for each weekend of Advent. Makes me a little sad! But so it goes. At least I’ll get to celebrate Christmas in church, and not at the hospital! I’ll be sure to post some Christmas music as we get closer!
I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving! I know that this Thanksgiving will mean a lot more to me this year than any other year in the past. The world is in a bad place right now, and it looks like there are hard times ahead for many people. Perhaps a little more thankfulness and humility will help lessen the pain of what’s to come. With enough, maybe, we can avoid some of the problems so inherent to humanity.
This Thanksgiving, take some time to be thankful. For what, is up to you!