Sunday, 25 January 2015

That's Chemo?

So I've successfully completed two round of chemotherapy and I'm happy to report it's not that bad. As I'd mentioned before, I go in every second Monday for lab work. They check my blood and urine to make sure my levels are safe for me to get chemo the next day. An hour after my blood draw I meet with my oncologist and he discusses how things are going. I told my doctor that he's never had a "me" before and now I think I'm right.

At my first "check up" the doc asked how I felt after my first round. I explained that I felt almost perfect with the exception of a couple of mouth sores and a sore esophagus that basically felt like heart burn. He said that was good because they weren't totally sure how much of the chemo to give me. Based on my weight it was a LOT of chemo but they gave me the full dose and were going to judge it from there. He was happy with how I took it and decided to continue giving me the full dose. The only little hiccup was that my blood pressure was 190 over 110. This is VERY high. He gave me a funny look and I said, "well I'm sitting here with my oncologist. What's my blood pressure supposed to be." He laughed and said we were going to take the Avastin out of the cocktail for one round as it's a vasoconstrictor and can cause high blood pressure. I wasn't thrilled with this as Avastin has shown to be amazingly effective at shrinking and choking off tumors. He agreed to let me calm down for a bit and see if I could get my blood pressure down to a reasonable level.

I put on Enya's Sail Away and closed my eyes and just focused on my breath. Why do I have Sail Away on my ipod? I don't know but I'll thank you not to judge me. When they re-checked my blood pressure it was still high but it was at a reasonable level and he agreed to give me the Avastin as long as I went on blood pressure medication. I agreed and he wrote me up a prescription. I sort of tried to find out if they knew how I was responding through some vague questions and everything just asked when we would know if it's working.  They said I would get a CT every 3 months and that would be the only time we really get any info. I just have to trust that science will take care of me.

When I went for my second round of chemo the nurse took my blood pressure and after only 1 pill it was down to 110 over 69. Much lower than I was used to but if it keeps them giving me the good drugs I'll do anything.

Round 1 of Chemo Dec 31, 2014

This also seems like a good time for a Kim update. She's been doing quite a bit of driving lately and is actually turning into quite a good little driver. She did have one tough stretch, however, that I couldn't help but document. We stopped at the local Tim Horton's drive through and it was like she forgot she was the one driving. She managed to bounce of the curbs on both sides of the drive through in a span of about 20 feet. I was quick enough to get my phone out and document this occasion. We didn't get a chance to go to Disneyland this year but she was good enough to simulate the Autopia cars.

One of my mantras (I have many) has been that if I don't bother to live my life then any extra they can get me is worthless. We are lucky enough to have some amazing people that can babysit and give Kim and me a chance to get out and have some fun. Our annual Cops for Cancer triathlon team party was one of these great nights. To encourage creativity the rule was that you had to dress as a noun that started with the 3rd letter of your first name. I got "L". It was a quick decision for me to go as Lance Armstrong. First, regardless of what you think of him and dopin, he is an incredible athlete that beat almost impossible odds against cancer and I hold him in very high esteem. Additionally, I have a jersey from Team Radio Shack which is the last team he rode for. In fact, I was in Paris for his very last Tour de France and becaue my sister and I paid a huge sum of money for a paddock pass I actually patted him on the back after he rode in the TdF for the final time. Pretty cool.

Took this picture at Tour de France 2010

For laughs I tweeted to Lance Armstrong that I was going as him to a party:

      TWEET: "Going to a party & have to dress as a noun that starts w/L Going as @Lancearmstrong so committed to it I even have cancer"

      I was thrilled to see a response a few minutes later from Lance Armstrong:
                      "dirty. Love it.

This absolutely made my night; a guy with 3.8 million Twitter followers has got to get bombarded by Twitter mentions so for him to take the time to respond is just too cool.

I hope you can all tell I'm in exceptionally good spirits and ready to continue this fight. I also am working on getting a really exciting project off the ground and hope to have more details later this week.

Train hard everyone. Animo!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Why are we whispering?

Cancer. There I said it. This seems to be one of the most powerful words in the English language. It can bring a person to their knees and makes others quake around them. It's this power that makes people not want to talk about it but that's the entire problem. We need to be able to openly talk about one of the biggest problems facing our society.

When I received my diagnosis I felt like the only person in the entire world facing this battle. But the more I talked to people and the more I got them to open up I found out just how many people I knew that had fought this awful disease and won. This was hugely important for me, it gave me hope. 

I implore you. If you know someone that is facing cancer please talk to them. I'm still shocked every time I'm in the middle of a conversation with someone close to me and they feel the need to whisper every time they say "cancer." I'm not contagious, you can't activate it by saying its name three times, it's just something I'm dealing with. 

The best thing that's happened to me was a local policeman that faced stage 3 colon cancer last year reached out to me. He had a couple of phone conversations with me and then had me over to his home to talk about what I can expect and what I should do to stay sane and rested. It's one thing to have your friends lend you their support, but it's an entirely different thing for someone who had actually gone through treatment to sit with you and talk. I left Dean's house feeling empowered and even excited to start chemotherapy.

Please, all of you, take away the power of the word cancer by talking openly about it and not using hushed voices. And survivors, please share your story of hope and reach out to someone else that will benefit endlessly from your kindness. 

This blog was heavy but I think it's important for everyone to hear this. But here's a joke to lighten the mood:

A man walks into a psychologist's office wearing shorts made of nothing but Saran Wrap. The psychologist looked up from his desk and said, "well, I can clearly see your nuts!" Wocka wocka.