It has been forever since I posted an update. There really has not been too much news on this front, since the chemo ended. Last week I had a new CAT scan, and today I met with my Oncologist for the usual monthly appointment. The results of the scan were normal, and there remains absolutely no sign of metastatic disease present either in that scan or the monthly blood tests. My Aortic Aneurysm does keep growing, and has grown by .1 cm since the scan last September. At this point it is nothing to worry about, and it is just to be monitored, which will pretty much mean a CAT scan every 6 months or so. The size is only 3.7 cm, and is not considered a danger or operative until it hits 5 cm according to the vascular surgeon. The Oncologist continues to believe that the cancer will not return, especially due to the chemo treatments after the surgery. I have a surgical consult on Thursday morning to get the port removed, and at that point will actually schedule the surgery itself. The site of the port is swollen some, so that will determine how quickly the actual surgery will need to be scheduled. I believe the swelling to be nothing, as does the Oncologist, though we will both let the surgeon tell me since it is his field of expertise, not mine or his. Once the port gets removed, I will just have to see the Oncologist every 3 months, instead of the every month that it has been. All in all has been a ride, and not one I want to repeat. 🙂
It has been a long ride, however this past Thursday was my last chemo treatment. I remain cancer free at this point, so the rest is gravy. The next steps are monthly blood tests at the Oncologist, and then I have a yearly colonoscopy, of which the next is scheduled for this December. According to the Dr, once my white blood cell count is where it needs to be, the surgery will be scheduled to remove the port that they have used for the chemo. I am really looking forward to that, as I have not been able to swim or do any type of repetitive motions like working out. That will be interesting once I can start that kind of stuff again, as I will be starting from scratch almost.
I want to thank every one of you, family, friends, and anyone that has stopped by. This has been a long ride for the past year, and has taken a serious drain on me both mentally and physically. I didn’t realize how much until I knew my chemo was over with last Thursday. For anyone military, the feeling is like coming down after a long deployment, finally able to relax again and let the mind begin to work on other issues, and letting your body begin to recuperate from the stresses placed on it. I don’t know if I would have held up as well as I did without your support, and knowing you all were there. Thank you.
It is about time! With the couple of setbacks with low white blood cells, the treatments have been pushed out a couple of times. I will go in for shots next week of Leukine, which causes the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. Providing the shots do what they should, and they have in the past, my last 2 day treatment should be the 7-8 of August. I am so looking forward to being done it is not even funny. In general, though I have done okay, I feel lousy constantly, only feeling good about 2 days before the next treatment starts. I have developed what is called “Peripheral Neuropathy”, which is basically my hands and feet are constantly numb. This is a side effect of the chemo, and it could be temporary or permanent. Unfortunately, whether it is temp or perm remains to be seen, as it can take up to 5 months or longer after treatment ends to know for sure according to the doc. The end of the treatments are near, so sometime near the end of August I should start feeling good again, after the general effects wear off, and am hoping the numbness disappears as well. I have found that it takes about 3-4 weeks for me to feel “right” again after treatments, this found out when I had my first white blood cell break. Honestly, I am looking forward to being able to enjoy life again, as this has been a very rough year. Every time I turn around it has been something, though I have persevered so far, it has been very disheartening. I do know I am winning this battle, and I really do hope I do not have to wage this war again, though if I do, it will be with the same outlook, and I will win. My travel plans are all on hold for the moment, between the medical bills and the numbness. I will keep everyone posted as I know more!
I have been remiss about updating, just so much going on with life right now. I am down to only 3 treatments left for the chemo, and I so can’t wait to be done with them. The weeks I have chemo I am kind of out of it, though I have continued to work and things are going smoothly. Taking things one day at a time helps considerably. I figure I have been in worse situations all told, so this is nothing but a little bump in the road. The only thing killing me right now is exercise, though I have started walking and such to try and get back into the swing of things. Overall I am feeling pretty good all things considered. So far I am still planning on getting back to Rochester this year, and right now it looks like around Thanksgiving time with a little luck. I will need to find out where everyone is so I can plan my drive accordingly! I am looking forward to seeing everyone, as it has been way too long since I have been home. I think the last time was Justins wedding, and that just will not do one little bit. I’ll keep everyone posted on trip plans as they become concrete 🙂
The first treatment of this second round is completed. It is a lot more intense than the first round was IMO, but nothing that can’t be conquered. These treatments are 2 days every 2 weeks. The first day consists of 5 bags of fluids, the first 2 are medicine to offset the side effect of nausea, the next 2 are given at the same time, 1 in the arm and 1 in the port, of Eloxatin and Fusilev. The last bag is 5FU, not sure how to spell it out right now or I would. The second day is 4 bags, mostly the same, minus the Eloxatin which is only given day 1 of each 2 day treatment. It looks like these will go until mid July, as there are 12 treatments total. There are 12 days between each treatment cycle.
At this point the only side effect I seem to have is a sensitivity to cold. This is expected to last about 5 days after treatment, and such a wonderful time of year for that to happen..LOL.
Finally, I will be going back to work tomorrow. This will be good as I am going stir crazy at home. I have gotten some things done though, so it is not a total waste of time.
I start my second round of chemo on the 4th of February. This should be interesting, as the drugs I will be getting cause a severe sensitivity to cold. My understanding from people that have had these same drugs, is that I won’t even be able to reach into the refrigerator without gloves on, nor will I be able to drink/eat anything cold really. Though not physically harmful, the sensation has been described to me as one of “swallowing razor blades” should I decide to do it anyway. I think I’ll pass and just stick with room temperature and warmer stuff for these next 6 months. February still being a cold month, I expect this to get very interesting to say the least. I am breaking out all the cold weather stuff I have from the military, so at least I will stay warm!
I found out recently, over the last 2 weeks that even though there is no trace of cancer left, I will still need to undergo 6 more months of chemo. The treatments will be 2 days every 2 weeks for a total of 12 more treatments, or 24 if you count each day as a separate treatment. They are actually part of the same treatment, as I will be getting FOLFOX, if anyone is interested in looking it up. There are different drugs that are administered with it, and looking it up would be easier than me trying to explain it. Not sure when I will be starting that yet, although I expect to find out on the 24th. These treatments will be more involved than the ones I had previously, which to me seems kind of backwards. From my understanding they have found that the survival rate increases by doing this with people that have/had colo-rectal cancer. The bright side is that if I start in the beginning of February, I might actually be able to have a birthday this year. I have not been able to celebrate a birthday now for years, with something always interfering. For the longest time it was Reserves that would crop up. When I retired last year, I figured 2012 would be the year of the birthday…i was wrong, as I had a clear liquid diet (no alcohol, or food of any type) and got diagnosed with cancer for my birthday. What a deal LOL. 50 just has to be better…lol.
Well, have been home since Monday night now. Everything is going as it should, near as I can tell. I go in on Tuesday to get the staples out, which will be good. There is very little pain, actually more like discomfort from time to time, so that is excellent. Out of 40 percocets prescribed for pain, I have only taken 2 total. One of the things that happened over the last few years, is that my mind had a hard time concentrating on things at times, and I was really tired all of the time. I just chalked it up to stress and who knows what else, maybe a little bit if depression. This, in actuality, started when I got back from Iraq. I was irritable, and just in general out of sorts in my mind. Knowing what I know now about cancer symptoms, I can’t help but think this has been going on the whole damn time. Each one of those items are listed as symptoms, although individually they do not seem like anything closely related. Another thing that I have learned through this, is that Colon Cancer and Breast Cancer are related cancers, both sharing the same makeup, unlike lung cancer, which is a bit different.
My point is that everyone should get checked, men and women, and stay on the recommended schedule which I think is once every 5 years after 40. Cancer is no stranger to our family as we know, so lets just kick its ass 🙂
This will be a long post, but I don’t want to leave out anything. Finally got released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. Not bad really, since that is only 5 days from the surgery. One of the items we were waiting on was the pathology report from the lymph system. It is common with cancer to remove lymph nodes from the surrounding area, as if the cancer spreads into that, it changes the nature and seriousness of the disease. On Sunday, the report came back, and the surgeon was happy to tell me that out of 10 lymph nodes sent in from the surrounding tissue, they all came back negative. Basically, they got all of it during the surgery, and there is no evidence at this time that any cancer remains in my body. Basically, from my understanding of it all, I am cancer free at this time. On Saturday, I had gotten moved from only ice chips to popsicles for a diet, and believe me..having nothing but ice chips for days makes popsicles seem like a feast, Finally something with flavor LOL. On Sunday also, besides the best news ever, I was moved to a full liquid diet, so I was actually able to have broth, jello and juice. Doesn’t seem like a big deal….but when you haven’t eaten anything with flavor for days, well, it makes all the difference. On Monday, right at lunch time the surgeon came in to talk to to me. I was just eating actually, and he asked if I was hungry, then laughed a bit. He ordered me a second tray of food, advancing the diet to puddings and more solid, yet soft, foods. At that time he also told me he was going to get me released since everything was going so good.
All in all right now things are good. Yesterday was a really long day, and I ma just glad to be home. I have to go in next week for a follow up, date and time to be sorted out this morning sometime. He will remove the staples then, and we will see what the next stage brings. Right now I am relaxed and pain free, although I do have oxycodone in case I need it.
I just can’t say how good it feels after all this, to be considered cancer free. This current battle is almost done, and there is no doubt I am winning this one.
Have an awesome Tuesday to anyone who reads this 🙂
This is day 2 after the surgery. 48 hours ago I was just getting ready to go in. Things have been progressing along, with yesterday alone huge strides made. They pulled my catheter yesterday, so I can now pee like a normal person. I have started to pass gas, which is the first sign the bowels are beginning to work again. According to the surgeon, I need to be up and walking 3-4 times a day, so I am doing that. Not far walks mind you, but something. He says people that walk heal faster after this type of surgery, and I am game for anything that speeds up the healing.