Monday, July 29, 2013

Feeling pretty good

I just got done with my last day of radiation, and it feels pretty good to be done with another leg of my treatment.  It took about 7 weeks to get through at around an hour a day for 5 days a week.  Periodic nausea, increased fatigue, a sore throat for the past three weeks, and what is currently looking like a bad sunburn on my back were the worst parts of radiation.  I was able to work almost full time hours during the whole way, so it was a very manageable part of my treatment so far.  The nausea and lack of appetite appears to be clearing up already over the weekend, and I am hopeful that the sore throat/burnt back heal up shortly as well.  Fatigue is still sticking around, but I managed to drive back and forth to Des Moines over the weekend without much of a problem.  Nor did it prevent me from meeting up with several of my friends and help celebrate my niece's first birthday.  I fell asleep during the present opening, but I don't think she noticed.  The drive home seemed to go by faster than the way up, and a mix of coffee, iced tea, and loud music pulled me through in the last half hour to make it home last night.  

I have CT and PET scans lined up in one week.  I'll meet with Van Tine the following Thursday to hear what the docs have decided is next up.  I'll be using this week to relax, get some work done, and not worry about what this will entail.  It'll be the first week in a long time without having to go to the hospital for anything, and I plan on enjoying it.

I also put up some pictures that I've been putting off.  There is one of my lab from before starting chemo.  I can't thank them enough for all the support they have given me.  One of Anna and I at the Yazoo brewery in Nashville about two weeks into radiation and the low point of my hair content.  One of my parents and sister Amy when they came down to visit a few weeks ago.  The last was last week at the Cardinals game with the triumphant return of my hair.

Pictures: Hair there, gone, returning, and back

Sunday, July 21, 2013


It's 6:30 on Sunday morning, and I've been awake and restless since 4.  Spent the first hour shifting from the bed, to the recliner, to the couch; trying to find an accommodating space where I can fall asleep without switching every other minute to being too hot to too cold.  But this is great compared to where I was before I started treatment.  My back pain is very well managed by the right amount of drugs which used to the the overriding reason for not being able to sleep.  And it's only been happening off and on instead of almost every night.  The month I spent sleeping on Anna's couch since it was the only place I could find some relief wasn't that long ago.  Plus Shradha gave me her Showtime password for my graciously given iPad which meant an hour of this morning was spent watching Josh Blue's hilarious standup.  I highly recommend it.  Especially to my brother in law Jared.  It's your kind of humor and you have the potential for the same kind of scruffy homeless look.  All the same, last night still sucked.

Almost puked already this morning too.  I just drank an unappetizing ensure to keep my weight up so I made sure to swallow it back down quick since I wasn't a out to waste both the time and money spent swallowing that expensive crap down.  The steroids don't seem to be holding their magic the last few days, which a small group of onlookers noticed as I walked over to the baseball game last night.  I've now gotten used to it so it was a quick mouth rinse, a piece of gum, and I was good to go.  At least I didn't lose it in the bleachers like I was worried about.  Wish the game itself had that much excitement.  Most of the scoring happened before we got there (far to hot to show up on time), and the Cards ended up losing.

In other news, I have little more than a week left of radiation.  After that I'll have the usual round of scans and doctor pow-wows to see what will happen with me next.  I just talked to my radiation oncologist on Friday, and he said that my tumor is continuing to shrink.  He said the full effect can't be seen for up to three months, but I'll have moved on to my next treatment step long before then.  Just remains to be seen what that will be. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rock beats scissors, steroids beats nausea

The past week was fairly uncomfortable.  I had a five day or so stretch of nausea and vomiting after most meals.  Not having an appetite in addition made trying to eat a challenge and at times painful.  I almost forgot to mention my radiation induced sore throat that burns all the way down with every other swallow.  Needless to say, I lost a few pounds. 

Monday was the breaking point where the first thing I did was throw up before even attempting to eat breakfast.  The anti-nausea meds definitely were not working, including the new and supposedly more powerful kind they put me on Friday.  My regular radiation oncologist was out of town, but I was able to see one of the residents.  I am very happy with how it worked out.  His questions and examination was brief and to the point.  Then he recommended starting me back on dexamethosone (a steroid) that I get put on with every round of chemo and with my increased back pain before starting radiation.  My nausea also started at the same time that I stopped taking it for said pain, so I had a strong feeling that it would work to stop it.

Sure enough, I've been taking steroids for the past two days, and I have been feeling back to normal.  Unfortunately the docs say steroids have a bunch of negative side effects (shocking) so they don't want me to be on them for very long.  Hopefully, whatever is the real cause of the nausea will be gone by the time I go off them again.  The docs don't think it's the radiation, but I'm not overly concerned as long as the dex keeps doing its job.

I only have 8 more days of radiation left.  After that I will have another set of scans to see how well the treatments worked, and my team of doctors will pow-wow to see what they want to do next.  I'm hoping for surgery for a few reasons.  First of all, I just want together it over with.  Surgery has been hanging over my head since they first found my chest tumor, and I've had several potential dates come and go as it is.  Secondly, I want this shit out of my body.  Third, I want to start the recovery process after they potentially take out several bones and a solid chunk of lung so I can get back to doing the things I love like biking, climbing, etc.  Those things are probably a long ways off still with chemo still on the schedule, but I wouldn't have to worry about breaking my cancerous and more fragile bones.  Chemo is going to happen no matter what with treatments stretching into next summer.  I'll keep you all informed on what they decide. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

A few bumps in a smooth ride

Hello blog followers.  It has been two weeks or so since my last update, and that is due to a lack of new progress to write about and procrastination.  Radiation has continued to go smoothly, and I should be done getting treatment to my femur soon.  That should cut down on the usual hour that I spend every work day getting treatment.  One bit of news that I got last week is that radiation appears to be working since my chest tumor shrank a bit.  My radiation oncologist showed me the difference which was easy to see, but didn't appear to be more than a couple of centimeters.  He said radiation takes time to work, and we should see more progress in the next few weeks.  I will be getting radiation until about the end of the month so I am encouraged that my tumor will be much smaller by the time I am done.  

I have been feeling very well for the most part the last two weeks, and have been able to work regular hours in lab.  One small hiccup in that occurred Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday.  Tuesday was fine until my back started hurting to the point where I needed to lay down on my yoga mat.  Two hours of still being in pain lead me to go home with my labmate Shradha's assistance.  It was the most pain I've been in awhile which sufficiently freaked Shradha out.  I started feeling better about 10 minutes after I got home, and found out pacing around my apt like a caged tiger helped.  My back pain was back to normal Wednesday morning, but my stomach was very irritated.  I threw up every time I tried to eat and several times on the way in and back from radiation.  My nurse recommended I take the anti nausea meds I have from chemo, which worked very well.  That combined with a 5 hour nap seemed to cure me for the most part.  I was able to eat again by dinner, and was lucky enough to be able to spend some time at a friends Mexican 'BBQ'.  The food was great, and I wish I would have been able to eat more.

I'm hoping to have a smooth week to catch up on some lab work built up from a long, but enjoyable holiday weekend spent with my parents and oldest sister Amy.  Radiation continues this week, and I'm also hopeful that I'll feel good enough to take my freshly tuned up bicycle on a short (very short) ride to remind myself how it feels.   Wish me luck.