Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mid Cycle Update

My side effects this chemo cycle have been relatively mild. I seem to be able to more-than-less control them through medication. The clinical trial I began a week ago to alleviate fatigue has worked for me. I say this with some hesitation. As mentioned in the prior blog entry, this is a double blind study. As such, I don’t know whether I’m getting a drug or a placebo. But, whichever it is, it’s working. On the 1 to 10 scale where 1 is no fatigue and 10 is the worst fatigue; I was pretty much at a steady 5 on average prior to last week. I must qualify this by saying my scale is different today than before cancer. In today’s world, a 1 means I feel like I can begin doing a light workout. In the world before cancer, I would have rated myself an 8 or 9 on the fatigue scale. Cancer has a way of changing your perspective on many fronts. The new drug I’m taking has lessened my fatigue level to a 2 or 3. That’s a major improvement both physically and mentally. I found an article on the Internet addressing the use of a drug for cancer-related fatigue. Here’s the URL for those that are interested…

I asked the clinical trial administrator if I would ever find out whether it is the drug or the placebo that I’m taking. She wasn’t sure, but will try to find out. I’ll let you know the answer if I get one.

The only other news of note is an upcoming CT scan. It’s scheduled for March 5th. The results will be available around March 10th. Given my history, scan results can at best be neutral news (no clear evidence of disease) and at worst bad news. My last scan was in mid November. Here again, I’ll keep you posted.

I finished two more novels by Lee Child. For those interested in action, suspense, puzzles, and clues, this may be a good read. I know I have enjoyed his works.

I hope all of you are feeling good and healthy. Thanks for checking in. Take care.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mixed Feelings

It was a good day at the cancer center yesterday. I should be happy today, but more than anything else, I’m feeling tired. I won’t go through the blow-by-blow details of yesterday’s visit; here’s a summary. I met with my chemo doctor. He is scheduling a scan for early March, he thinks I look good, we talked for awhile, and he sent me off for chemo which was later in the day. I visited with the Supportive Care unit. They used to be called Palliative Care. The doctor I met with there explained that they do more than end of life treatments. They also treat symptoms and provide counseling. She recommended a clinical trial to address my fatigue. I read the paperwork and agreed to participate in the clinical trial. It will take place over a 7 week period. The first two weeks will be with a drug or a placebo (it’s a double-blind study meaning the administrator of the study nor the subject (in this case myself) knows whether or not I’m getting the drug or the placebo). The next five weeks will be with the drug. I have a daily log book and will receive survey calls 3 times per week to assess how I’m feeling and my activity level. I had to answer an extensive questionnaire, take a few cognitive tests to establish a baseline, and also one physical test. I will begin taking the drug/placebo on Saturday. The drug has been on the market for a long time, but not in the treatment of fatigue due to cancer. It would open a whole new market for this drug if successful. I then visited my dental oncologist and finished the fitting for my new mouth prosthetic. It will take a few weeks to get used to, but it makes a noticeable positive difference in the quality of my voice. For that I am truly thankful. Lastly, I had my chemo. The nurse got my IV going on the first stick, which is good, but she may have punctured the underside side of the vein in the process. That’s not unusual. I’ll be able to tell within the next 24 hours if it turns black and blue. This all took place over about a 7 hour period. That’s pretty good when compared to past visits.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Thanks for checking in. Take care everyone.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Duration Test

A friend of mine told me a few years ago that having cancer and treating it was more like the challenges one faces in running a marathon than in running a sprint. It’s basically a long drawn out process. That is not true in every case (some people become cured and some people die quickly from the disease), but it sure is true in my case. It’s been a tough weekend. I’ve been under the weather. Severe headache, nausea, chills, and skin/muscle tightness in places where I was treated with radiation and surgery. It’s similar to having flu like symptoms. However, I don’t have any fever and therefore don’t think that I have the flu. It’s probably chemo related, but I’m not sure. The symptoms began on Friday night and are continuing though tonight (Sunday). It’s disappointing because my last IV treatment was 2.5 weeks ago and up until Friday night, the side effects had been relatively minor, some fatigue and neuropathy (feet/toe numbness). It’s times like this where one has to just lay back and hope that the discomfort fads quickly and that tomorrow will be a better day. Bottom line, this cancer stuff is just plain old tiring right now.

That’s all for now. Thanks for checking in. Take care everyone.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Mid Chemo Round Update

It’s been 9 days since my last chemo treatment and 12 days until my next one. This round has been relatively mild from a side effect perspective. I’m still fighting fatigue, but not severe fatigue. I tried cutting back on my pain/anxiety medicine, but that little experiment proved to be uncomfortable. My current dosing is relatively low. I’m at 50% of the maximum daily dose for one of the lesser strength prescription pain medicines and at about 20% of maximum daily dose for my anxiety medicine. Ideally, I’d like to be at no medication. The self imposed cut back severely disrupted my sleep for almost a week. Lack of a good sleep made me generally uncomfortable. As such, yesterday I went back to the dose that helps me get by.

I had an interesting phone conversation with someone today. We didn’t know each other (she was a representative at a company where I bank). We began to talk about my speech impediment. She said her sister had a brain aneurysm which caused her to have a speech impediment, but it did not impact her cognitive abilities. She went on to say that her sister was very frustrated by this because she had trouble communicating with people and people treated her differently. She then said, “you must be frustrated.” Ah ha, (the proverbial light bulb went off in my head) that is the perfect word for how I feel, “FRUSTRATED.” Okay, I said it. I like to talk and communicate, but it’s hard for me to do so in a way that I feel is normal, especially over the phone. This is not a complaint; I’m trying to share with those that read my blog how I feel. I’m looking forward to my new month prosthetic that will be ready in about a month. They took a mouth impression last week and it will take about 3 fittings to get it right. The first fitting is this coming Monday. I hope I’m being realistic about what this device will do for me. Once it’s fitted properly, it will take a few weeks to get used to. I’ll let you know how it works.

That’s all for now. Thanks, as always, for checking in. Take care everyone.