Thursday, November 25, 2010

6:1:7

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm heading up to Seattle shortly to spend the holiday with friends, but I wanted to take the time to say thanks to all of you for your help in getting me through cancer treatment. Usually I go through the motions of saying thanks each Thanksgiving before digging into the mound of food in front of me, but this year, I couldn't be more thankful for everything I have - my friends, my family, my life - everything. The past ten-plus months have been rough, to say the least, and I can't image what it would have been like had I not had everyone's support. Every card, email, phone call, social visit and extended stay was more appreciated than you probably thought. To have such wonderful family and friends, I am truly thankful.

I'll be posting an extended "thank you" entry once I'm officially done with treatment, so I'll hold off rolling the credits until then.

Enjoy the turkey.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

5:4:2

My chemo calendar date should read 6:1:2, but thanks to Walgreen's (the boycott is still on), I'm now in week *four* of my fifth round of chemo. I finished up my round four drugs last Thursday, and the side effects hit hard yesterday. I woke up tired, slept most of the morning, tried to walk into work, got about halfway there, realized that I wasn't going to get anything done feeling the way I was feeling, turned around, walked back home, and slept the rest of the day. Today's not going much better. Just lying around watching college football. Had grand plans to go out and get some things done like laundry and grocery shopping, but just still feeling pretty whipped. I don't think I'll figure out the timing of these side effects. Anyways, at least I have the next week to recover. Round six starts Friday. Three weeks left as of tomorrow.

So, we're back down to 22 days.




















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Other than the fatigue, I had a pretty good week this past week. I flew back to Wisconsin to road trip to Purdue with my college buddies for the Wisconsin game. Good times. Great times, actually. Time with the guys is always good for my spirits. My health held up pretty well - only had to call it early on Saturday night. Got back to Milwaukee earlier than expected on Sunday and was able to spend time with my family. Then, my brother crashed with me for a few days while he was in town for business. We pretty much just hung out, caught a Blazer's game, etc. So, that was a lot of fun. All the time with friends and family was a good distraction from everything.

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I've been following the blogs of a few other people who have been going through the same thing I've been going through, and read something a week or so ago that shook me up a bit. One blog I've been following for awhile is written by a woman who is a few months ahead of me. We both had the same procedure and pretty much the same treatment plan. She just had her first post-surgery MRI and a few spots showed up on her lungs. (If rectal CA is to spread, the first two places it will pop up is the lung and liver, usually the liver first.) It could be scar issue, the spots are too small to do a biopsy, so they're going to wait a few months and then do another scan. Hopefully the spots *are* just scar tissue, but that's a huge scare and a source of anxiety and concern for a few months. My first follow-up scan is in June, so nothing for me to worry about for awhile (but I'm sure I'll have plenty of anxiety as that date approaches.)

Anyways, the reason why I bring up this woman's scan results is because it showed me how much my attitude toward my cancer has changed since surgery. Before surgery, let's face it, I was pretty scared, and I wanted to do everything I could to increase my chances of being completely cured. Chemo, radiation, meditation, diet, exercise - you name it, I was doing what I could. But now, coming up on four and a half months after surgery, physically pretty much healed up, and, by all accounts, all the cancer out of me, I'm feeling more and more like this is something that I can put in my past and no longer something that I have to worry about. Putting this in my past is something that I *want*, don't get me wrong, but I can't let my vigilance drop. After I'm finished up with chemo I can't continue down the same path I was on in life, I have to continue down a different path entirely. I have to take better care of myself, both physically and mentally, than I did before. I have to hold myself to a higher standard than I did before, and to a higher standard than those that haven't had cancer. There's still that 1-in-3 that this shit comes back statistic that's looking me in the face, and there's a lot I can do to improve those odds, particularly in how I treat myself, how I live. I guess I'm making a deal out of this, because I feel like I'm been letting my diet kind of go to hell and exercising less and less the further I get away from surgery. But, I'm cutting myself some slack because I *am* going through chemo and I'm eating what I eat to keep my stomach settled and exercise as much as my body allows. I don't know ... I guess I'm just concerned/afraid that I'm going to let myself lapse into the same old health habits that I had before, and I want to, I need to be better than that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

5:2:6

I have to reset my chemo countdown clock. Why? Because of freaking Walgreens. I called my oncology to schedule my next (and final!) infusion appointment and felt I should mention the extended delay in getting my pills since going ahead with my infusion on my scheduled day would leave me with ZERO recovery days between rounds, and I thought the doctor might have a problem with that.

He did.

So, we're going to give my body the recovery time between rounds that it's supposed to have and push out round #6 by a week, which means I finish up another week later than planned.

So, thank you Walgreens for postponing the end of my cancer treatment by a week. It's only a week people, but trust me, having to extend cancer treatment even one more day pisses me off. I think it'll be awhile before I refill a prescription or shop at Walgreens again.

Something like 33 days left ...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

5:2:5

Just realized that it's been five months since my surgery, as of today. Time flies. I look back at how far I've come mentally and physically, and how far I still need to go. Mentally, the bag and I have reached a peaceful coexistence (for the most part), and physically, I've done enough activity now that I know that I'm going to be able to do everything I've enjoyed doing in the past. It'll take some work to be able to physically perform at my former peak level (I can't express how unflexible I still am), and it may be that my peak is somewhat reduced from before. I've heard this from both my surgeon and others who have gone through this procedure. Being under general anesthesia for 7-8 hours and going through a major surgical procedure like this can apparently have a lasting impact on the body. Plus, it could just be that I'm getting a little older too - I'm not 20 anymore. But that's OK. It's not like I was making a living as an athlete or anything. I'm just a weekend warrior, at best.

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With the calendar rolling over to November, I'm happy to say that I'll be finishing chemo THIS MONTH. Assuming that Walgreens can get me my drugs on time (something that they've proven they're amazing inept at doing), I'll be done on the 28th.

Only 26 more days ...