Friday, February 13, 2009

Post 13 -- Test Results and Post Session #3

Sorry for keeping everyone in suspense about the test results.

Things are progressing within an acceptable range. Cancer is still there, but it's definitely getting smaller. I'm not sure what I really expected to hear from the doctor, but I came out of the visit somewhat down. Yes, the cancer is going away, but it's still there. Yes, I realize I'd only had 2 treatments, but I typically try to over-achieve in most everything I do... the fact that I'm not ahead of the typical curve just didn't sit well with me.

Don't get me wrong... I'm not down / depressed / worried... I just like to be ahead of the typical results; that's just my nature.

Came away with 2 prescriptions, and was allowed to stop a 3rd. Oh Joy!

To show you exactly how much of an over-achiever both the wife and I are, the doctor told us he feels like he's speaking with medical school students when he talks with us. We know a good deal about this cancer and I suppose ask detailed questions.

Here is a good suggestion for anybody going through any type of medical treatment that requires visiting a specialist on a regular basis...

Get a notebook, binder, or some other form of paper organizer. Have an area where you write down questions you think of between your visits. Without fail, you will think of something 2 weeks... 2 days... whatever before your next visit. Then when you are actually there, you'll forget to ask. Write the question down, and then when you are with your doctor, you can run through your list of questions. Leave spaces in between your questions to write notes... somethings are complicated or involved. This way you'll have something to reference in the future to remind yourself of everything.

OK, now for the 3rd session results.

For those about to start, or who are going through chemo currently, I will impart some of my observations. Patients will compare cancers... at least on a superficial level. Nobody is looking for the "oh, my cancer is worse than yours" kind of comparison, but just a general how you are doing, and what your treatments are... When you find someone with a similar cancer, you can and will spend long periods of time speaking with them... comparing doctors, symptoms, etc... Being a private person, I don't really do a whole lot of sharing, but I do listen to others.

You'll make (or at least I do) mental notes about other patient's progressions. You'll find yourself happy for someone who is on their last treatment, and sad for those who won't make the next. And the final observation for now... (annoying as heck)... You'll find yourself surrounded by "inspirational" poems and sayings all over the doctor's office and treatment area... It's probably just me, and I'm sure there are some who really like it... but do I really need to have the "Cancer is So Limited" poem 3 times in the same small bathroom... I'm not kidding.. 3 copies of it in the bathroom -- well 2.5 copies. One of the copies on the sink is only half the poem.

Alright - Post Chemo Session #3.

Some have asked, and the answer is yes, the side-effects of chemo are cumulative. Each time is a little worse than the time before. However, understand that you don't feel like crap the entire time between treatments. Each time lasts a little longer than the previous one, and each time is a little worse. I'm not trying to scare you if you are about to start... It's really not going to be as bad as you think it will be. Honest.

One of the side-effects you can expect to get with R-CHOP chemo therapy is a numbness in the tips of your fingers. For me this started a couple of weeks after the first session and has slowly increased over time. I don't really notice the numbness/tingly sensation until I stop and think about it, or when I type (it's surprisingly difficult for me to type for long periods of time).

This time around, too, was the first time the chemo really affected my concentration. For the first 4 days following chemo, I really had a hard time concentrating on things... I would describe it as "tunnel-focus"... like tunnel-vision, where you can only really see straight ahead. With tunnel-focus, it's almost impossible to multi-task and to switch thoughts requires some effort... not huge amounts by any means, but I'm used to being able to multi-task and quickly shift mental gears. Nothing to worry about, as it went away, but something to be aware of.

Unfortunately for me this time around, I got sick -- as in a full body cold type sick. You can't take any of the typical cold remedies or symptom suppressant medications (they'll warn you about this in chemo orientation). They don't want any medications interfering with the chemo drugs. What this means is that you just have to deal with the crap if you do get sick.

Thankfully for me, I didn't get sick right before a treatment. They test your blood and if your counts are too low (not sure how low this cold would have made them), they will not administer your treatment. I'm not sure how long it would take to reschedule for a later day, but I also don't want to find out.

I will be over this cold by the end of the weekend, and will be in good shape for the 4th treatment on February 27th.

Following that treatment, I'll have another round of tests, and more results. By that time, the cancer should be almost completely gone. The 5th and 6th rounds of chemo are to further force the cancer into remission and eradicate any linger cancer cells.

There are other posts/things I want to say, but I am tired (the body cold more than anything), and done typing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

V good luck