Thursday, June 7, 2012

Two Weeks of Chemo: Day 14 & Wrap-up

This is part of an ongoing two-week series. For more info, see this introductory post.

We made it! One more two-week cycle is finished and another is about to begin. This was my ninth chemo treatment and I have three more to go.

You may have noticed that I haven't been complaining about nasty side effects in the last few posts (toe dots don't count). That's because on these last few days of each cycle, I have no complaints. I live for these days, when I have energy and food has taste. Chemo cycles have the pleasant side effect of making you appreciate the good days. Every second Thursday, I live like a man who's parole is about to be revoked. I eat anything that catches my fancy, go out with friends, catch a movie, etc. We should all do this more often.

If you've learned anything from my posts, I hope you take away that there isn't one main downside to chemo; it's the summation of many small irritants that wears on you. More than this, though, I hope that you see, as I have, how much we take for granted when we're healthy. Every two weeks, I am reminded of both how wonderful life is when you have your health, and how awful it can be when you don't.

Thank you for reading through this little experiment. It was truly meant as a note to myself, so that I don't forget the lessons I have learned. I hate broadcasting that I have cancer and I am not looking for sympathy. This is one of the main reasons I loathe having lost my hair; it is the only outward sign of my malady. Were it not for the hair loss, I could suffer internally and not bring any undue attention to myself. But if my ailment must be made public, I am happy to use the attention it brings to inform people of what the millions of current and past cancer patients have suffered through on a daily basis.

Again, thank you for the generous outpouring of love and support. I'm off to have a wonderful dinner and enjoy the hell out of what remains of my Thursday. I hope you do the same!

Back to Day 13.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Two Weeks of Chemo: Day 13

This is part of an ongoing two-week series. For more info, see this introductory post.

I am writing today's post from my doctor's office waiting room. No, nothing has gone wrong. This is my biweekly, mid-treatment checkup.

Generally, these appointments are meant to make sure I am ready for the next round of chemo and address any concerns about the treatment plan and side effects. As of late, these have been very quick and painless appointments. I alternate between seeing my oncologist and the practice's nurse practitioner, having my vitals taken, heart and lungs listened to, and fatigue level assessed. In the first few weeks of my treatment, however, we made good use of these meetings, mostly trying to find nausea medications that worked.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Two Weeks of Chemo: Day 12

This is part of an ongoing two-week series. For more info, see this introductory post.

One worrying thought that I have had, but on which I try not to dwell, is how having cancer this early in life is an ill omen for developing another type of cancer later. It is well documented that people with Hodgkin's lymphoma have a two to three times greater chance of developing another cancer, compared to the general population. This is generally thought to be because of the mutagenic properties of certain chemo drugs and radiation.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Two Weeks of Chemo: Day 11

This is part of an ongoing two-week series. For more info, see this introductory post.

After I was diagnosed and had returned to Ithaca for treatment, I met up with one of my academic advisers to discuss my plan for the semester. Most of our conversation, however, was actually spent on cancer. My adviser, it turns out, is a cancer survivor and Ithaca being the small town it is, it wasn't surprising then to find that we share the same oncologist.

At the time, I had only met my oncologist once or twice, so I was curious as to my adviser's opinion of him. She grimaced and prefaced her response by saying that he was very good and that she received great care from his office. That being said, she continued by trying to put into words her very subtle critique. Essentially, our doctor gives too much power to the patient regarding their own care. I was hesitant to call this a criticism at the time because I felt that some humility and cooperation between doctor and patient is always a good thing. I have since come to understand what my adviser meant.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Two Weeks of Chemo: Day 10

This is part of an ongoing two-week series. For more info, see this introductory post.

One amusing thing about the days I have my chemo treatments is seeing what new way we will manage to delay our departure. Don't get me wrong; I love the chemo nurses and we generally have a very favorable experience at the chemo suite, but I would be very happy never going back there again. So it's frustrating that about half of the time we go, we are stuck there for longer than is scheduled.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Two Weeks of Chemo: Day 9

This is part of an ongoing two-week series. For more info, see this introductory post.

For all the fuss it causes, cancer can have remarkably few symptoms. Though some forms such as acute leukemias and most brain cancers show signs in very early stages, most cancers can grow into enormous tumors and even metastasize before the person even notices that their own body has turned against them. Sure chemo and radiation can cause a whole slew of problems, but the cancer itself is a rather peaceful invader right up to the most advanced stages of the disease.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Two Weeks of Chemo: Day 8

This is part of an ongoing two-week series. For more info, see this introductory post.

The most well known symptom of chemo, perhaps behind hair loss, is fatigue. Chemo wipes you out and it only gets worse over the course of your treatment. Initially, my energy level would only be affected for the first few days after a treatment, but now it wanes throughout each two-week cycle.