Switching therapies

Here’s the summary from last week’s CT scan :

Impression:

  1. Stable to slightly decreased multiple hepatic metastasis.
  2. Previously identified sigmoid malignant mass remains less conspicuous.
  3. Stable appearance of probable gallbladder metastasis and the gastrohepatic lymphadenopathy. Gallbladder ultrasound can be used for further characterization of gallbladder findings.
  4. No significant free fluid, decreased from prior examination.

Basically – if you don’t feel like googling – the tumors are shrinking more though not as much as when my chemo load was heavier. Colon tumor is being a good dog. Staaaaaay. Bit of something on the gallbladder, but whaddya gonna do. I’ll knock that one down too.

I hope I’m always this pleased to be reading these scans. So I took that news into the Memorial Day weekend, spending some much-needed time at the beach with good friends. I burnt my feet and toes but I could only feel part of them, so that’s a plus.

And the acne is back on the face, because they switched my one bag of chemo once more, back to good ole Vectibix. I guess I’ve been on basically on ‘maintenance chemo’ since they knocked me down to one bag a visit, which has been at least late-April, I believe. While my oncologist would be worried if this was the only progress from taking my full-on 2015’s style chemo load, my small progress was due to something, perhaps the weak chemo, perhaps something else. I was comparing this scan to my first one and the largest tumors I have now are smaller than the smallest ones measured on the first scan.

At any rate, tomorrow morning I go in for the first procedure, the mapping of hepatic blood flow. Wait till they get a load of my angular blood vessels!

Thank you all for your energy, it’s keeping my feet moving from that block of chemo. I was bushed after that, hopefully I can stand up to that ‘maintenance chemo’ a little better for a while longer. But for now, I’ll glow in the dark like an Yttrium-90-laced firefly in the summer night. I love you all, ecstatic you’re here with me.

“We are the big animal now, shaking the life out of the smaller animal, and he must be given no rest, no chance to recover.”
– Winston Churchill

Catching up

 

I like to think I used to be a pretty smart kid, growing up and going off to Virginia Tech. However, I was hopelessly ignorant about who was paying my tuition and didn’t bother asking about it. Being a teenager, I naturally thought tuition payments grew on trees. It took my mother’s divorce from my step-father to make me realize that after my sophomore year, I was out of funds. So I started to take responsibility for my financial situation, took a year off from college while staying in Blacksburg, VA so I could research what it took to apply for financial aid. Meanwhile, I’d need a steady source of income to be able to live.

Luckily my buddy Ken had a lead on a short-order cook position at a local restaurant where he worked part-time, which sounded interesting. I like to cook, my maternal grandmother would let my brother and I make sugar cookies when I was in first grade so I’ve been comfortable around a kitchen from a young age. So I started working at Bogen’s (“Casual with Class” was its motto) and in the 3 years of my stint there, slinging waffle fries, I struck up friendships that I’ve maintained to this day.

Four of my friends from these days visited me this past weekend, and it was a wonderful experience… until Saturday night, when the weather suddenly went frigid, and I caught hold of a fever that has lingered for 3 days now (hopefully I’ll be better tomorrow). It’s a stark reminder to me that my health is compromised, and after a few months’ worth of chemo, I don’t bounce back like I used to. I went in for another scheduled round of chemo today and they had to turn me away because of the fever. Better luck next week, I guess.

Wait a minute, why am I still on chemo, you might be asking. My oncologist and I are working on a long-term plan where I get low doses of chemo on a fairly regular basis while we set up another radio embolization round, sometime probably in June. My hospital has started a new clinic for this, so I don’t have to constantly travel to Durham for this procedure now.  Of course my wife has to do most of the driving for those, because I’m usually pretty whacked out after the procedure that I can’t drive myself home anyhow, so this is mostly for her benefit; but having the Interventional Radiotherapy (IR) clinic literally in the same place as my oncologist is as convenient as it can get. So, there won’t be the same issue as I encountered last year: as you might recall my case was delayed because of miscommunications and delays with getting the proper approvals and all that time off of chemo (I had to be chemo-free so the doctors could perform the radioembolization) allowed the tumors to grow back a bit, which was quite discouraging. This time, I’ll be on chemo until I’m absolutely ready for the second round of radioactive beads, which will be confirmed with a quick walk across a corridor, instead of having to start an email thread or set an appointment with Big Duke. We’re not taking our foot off the gas this year.

I’m loaded up also with new supplements based on my recent findings from sending off my DNA to 23 and me.com. The results came back with a lot of cell mutations that I went over with my sister-in-law and we’ve determined which supplements would be most beneficial for my healing while I’m still working through the chemo and radiation therapy that’s coming up. One of the items in this report shows a genetic mutation I have that favors celiac disease, so she has me on a gluten-free diet so my body can focus on healing and not having to process gluten. So far it’s not been too bad but I find myself hungry more often.
So that’s the latest news from here — still keeping the pressure on the cancer with chemo, until they’re ready for my catheterization! Now if I can just shake this fever…