Thursday, June 26, 2008

Physical Therapy

I began working out on a more regular basis about 2 months ago. By more regular, that means 1 to 3 times per week. I used to work out every other day and am trying to build back up to that both physically and emotionally. I noticed a few weeks ago that some of my muscle groups had atrophied. This included my shoulder muscles and the strength in my right leg and hip. My other muscle groups: arms, abdomen, neck, etc. seem quite fine. I visited with my physical therapist yesterday. She took about 50 – 75 measurements on range of motion and strength. She’s been doing this for about 20 years and is excellent. She confirmed scientifically what I had been feeling physically and is now working on an exercise plan to strengthen areas in need of help. The question of how this happened will go unanswered. My guess is a combination of the lengths of my immobility (caused by the disease and treatments) and the chemo drugs.

What I’ve learned through all this is to not ignore persistent symptoms, even those that one can work around or are not that painful. If you need help and have the resources to get it, there’s no reason to put it off.

Take care everyone.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thank you…

for all the well wishes… phone calls, emails, and visits regarding my scan results. We’ll be playing a balancing game from here on out with my chemo regimen. I suffered a severe debilitating headache on Thursday and part of Friday. Probably chemo related, but one never really knows. I can live with a headache for 2 days a month for a long time if it were to mean that the cancer would not return. But, no one really knows that either. I’m currently scheduled for 3 more chemo treatments 4 weeks apart. That will bring us to mid-September. At that point, we’ll reassess my health and options and go from there.

Take care everyone.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Scan Results

I had my CT scan yesterday, June 17th. My daughter joined me for the day at the cancer center. Her company was my father’s day gift. She got me some other neat stuff, but her joining me for a day at the cancer center was the gift I asked for. She got to see me wait, then blood drawn, then a peak behind the curtain at a cancer research lab, then waiting, then waiting some more while I had an IV put in and the CT scan taken. The IV is used to shoot iodine into my veins and acts as a contrast during the scan process. It was about 7 hours start to finish. It was a typical day for me at the center and hopefully a bit of an education for my daughter.

It's now June 18th and I’ve been waiting for an hour and a half to see my oncologist and hear the news of yesterday's scan results. I’m apprehensive. I’ve been feeling good lately, but that doesn’t provide much of a leading indicator as to the actual scan results. Feeling bad would be an indicator. But, feeling good is neutral in my book. I feel like flipping a coin or something as I wait. Heads I’m good, tails I’m bad. I just looked for a coin and don’t have one on me. I’ll see if I can borrow one from someone. One of my nurse friends had a quarter. I flipped it and it came up tails. I shouldn’t have done that. Now I’m even more apprehensive. This waiting is killing me. Tic, tic, tic. I’ll write more in a little while.

It’s now about 20 minutes later and I just met with my doctor’s physician assistant. Stupid coin toss. It was wrong. The preliminary scan results came back and said, “There is no definitive evidence of tumor recurrence.” That’s the best news I could hope for. With all the surgeries and scar tissue, the scans are difficult to interpret. But, any other news would be bad news. So, there you have it. I’m going to continue chemo for another 4+ months depending on my tolerance to the drugs. It’s been working so far and we’d rather err on the side of caution. My surgeon and oncologist, plus a friend in the lab, are almost as excited about this news as myself. It’s not time to say “we won,” that flag won’t be flown until I’m out 2 years from my last cancer recurrence in October 2007. This does however allow me to begin thinking longer term. So, stay tuned.

Thanks for checking in and take care everyone.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Drug Side Effect

I called the Supportive Care unit at my cancer center yesterday. I wanted them to know my vision had become slightly fuzzy over the past week or two and wondered if that was a side effect of my new medication and if so, was it serious. They were surprised that I was having this side effect at such a low dosage (it is more common in higher doses), so they asked me to stop taking the medication to rule out other causes for the blurred vision. I stopped it last night and this morning my vision is back to normal. I’ve decided I’m pretty susceptible to many drugs; maybe that was why I had an allergic reaction to Cetuximab a year+ ago. Well, eye vision issue probably solved. I’ll wait a day or two more to make sure.

Stay healthy and take care everyone.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Scans, Depression, Leroy Sievers, and Lee Child

Hi. I’ll comment on a few subjects today. They may seem somewhat random, but they are all on my mind.

1) Scans. I have a CT scan on June 17th. I’ll get the scan results the next day. I’ve been feeling relatively good since beginning my antidepressant medication on May 21st (almost three weeks ago). But, I’m also a bit anxious, especially after reading Leroy’s blog entry today. At this point, I’ll just have to wait, hope, and see.

2) Depression. It’s an odd disease. A friend of mine had severe depression and told me about it, but one doesn’t comprehend what it is (at least I didn’t) until I had it. For anyone out there who is depressed (or thinks they may be depressed), get help! What could it hurt to talk to a professional and try assistance? Different therapies will work better than others for each individual. They range from counseling, to medication, and a combination of the two. If you had a headache, you’d take aspirin. If you sprained you ankle you’d see a doctor. So, ask yourself why depression should be treated any differently. See a professional this week. Make it happen. BTW – per my last post on May 22nd, the drug I’m on does make dreaming much more vivid. As such both good dreams and nightmares are part of the package. Vampires. Can’t live with them, can’t dream without them.

3) Leroy Shivers. I’ve wrote about his blog many times. It can be seen at the following url: Today’s entry is “The Disease Has Exploded.” He’s been battling cancer on somewhat the same timeline as me. He had some major set backs 6 – 9 months ago with cancerous spinal tumor recurrences and multiple surgeries. His attention has been drawn to recuperation since then and not much on the disease. His scan’s from late last week revealed that the cancer is back with a vengeance. Brain, lungs, bone, liver, etc. I’m guessing he is scared and feels he is running out of options. I empathize with him and hope for the best. I’m not sure what the best is for him at this point. I’m pretty sure he’ll tell us when he knows and is ready.

4) Lee Child. This is on the lighter side. Lee is a British author. I began reading his books about 4 – 6 months ago. I finished his 11th and last book last month. However, his newest book came out in the U.S. on June 3rd. I went to his book signing in Houston on Sunday. He spoke for about 20 minutes and then answered audience questions for 40 minutes. It was held at a small bookshop and over 150 people showed up. It had to be a fire code violation. Okay, now back on track. He was thoroughly entertaining. I’m looking forward to reading his 12th novel. It’s the first one that I bought in hardback. For “Jack Reacher” fans… he is in talks with Tom Cruise about a movie deal. Tom Cruise would be the executive director, not the main character, Jack Reacher. Stay tuned to this exciting author.

Remain healthy and take care everyone.