So things seem to improve on a daily basis. I’m heading back in the office, going to lunch with colleagues, able to eat Pho (yummy Vietnamese soup). But I still have this bizarre symptom, like some weird witches (or warlocks) curse: may you feel constantly hungry, yet most food will turn your stomach. You know, that sounds more like the Pirates of Caribbean movie (the first one, I’m told the second one sucked): Arrgh, aye be cursed, I feel hunger, yet food is unappetising! Arrrgh, indeed!

It’s weird. So I continue to eat lox and bagels and eggs. I’m slowly adding food to the mix, but for the last week or so I make something to eat, take two bites, think blech, and have to throw it out… only to still be hungry, and try the next thing. I’ve now added cold cereal (with bananas) to the mix, and there’s still cinnamon bread with peanut butter, but anything with a lot of fat or grease is gross. Last night steam green beans worked with white rice. Oh joy, how tasty. I can add a little BBQ sauce, which thankfully tastes good.

Doctor Cecchi says this weird taste thing is normal with chemo… and could last 6 to 8 weeks. So arrrgh, aye be cursed!!!

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Finally feeling better…

August 25, 2006

Well friends, I’m finally feeling better. It’s been a really, really crappy two weeks. I’ll try and return phone calls and start seeing people this weekend, but I’ll need to take it easy. I plan to return to the office on Tuesday… and fly to Tennessee in a week!!

It still hurts to swallow water, but there’s this “Cecchi cocktail” I drink that numbs the mouth and esophagus so I can eat. Lox and bagels are still my staple, but now I’m adding eggs over easy to the mix. Peanut butter is finally tasting good again, and putting it on toasted semifreddi’s cinnamon challah also tastes good again. How it ever tasted badly… I have no idea. I’m told it may take up to 8 weeks for all of my tastes and smells to return to normal.

So, thanks for all the emails and calls… I’ll try and eventually get back to everyone who’s left nice messages. I really appreaciate all the support and all…

In the meantime, I’m enjoying just relaxing watching HDTV, which is really, really amazing.

I next see Dr Cecchi on Monday; I’ll find out more about schedules and scans then, and will let everyone know via the blog. Until then… GO BEARS!

So now I’m done with all the poison going into my body. Man, has this been a fast 8 weeks or so, from diagnosis to treatment to recovery.

Unfortunately, Dr Cecchi was right, and this second dose of Chemo, after the radiation, is far, far worse.

By this time last time (Wednesday after treatment) I bounced back and was in the office already. This week I’m in the cancer clinic every day getting IV hydration. I’m still able to work ’cause it gets boring sitting there with IV hydration every day, and laptops are good. So I’m keeping my mind active, at least. And there’s wireless in the cancer center. Technology is GOOD… :^)

But my mouth is all messed up. The radiation concentrated right on the junction of the esophagus and the stomach, where the tumor is. But the esophagus is just one big tube, and the mouth is at one end. So the inside of my mouth is all messed up, it’s all swollen, like how your fingers swell up when you’ve spent too much time in a swimming pool.

Swallowing is hard, not on the throat end, but on the stomach end, where they’ve been nuking the cancer. Water hurts to swallow if not in careful, little sips. This unfortunately hasn’t gotten much better since they stopped dumping the Chemo poisons into my body last week.

Then add to that everything smells weird. Last time I could identify it as “metallic”; this time, it’s just “off”. Very, very few foods taste as they should. Anything with grease or fat is gross, so meat is out. The soy ice cream stuff is gross (but then again, it actually might be gross). Sorbet is good, and Trader Joes popsicles are divine. Smoked salmon remains the one thing that tastes great.

So I’m kinda just feeling grouchy, and sleep a bunch, and can’t really swallow anything so food is kinda out of the question. I get IV hydration and eat applesauce, jello and trader joe’s popsicles.

I’ve been getting lots of calls and emails from friends and I really appreciate the concern and offers to help. I really can’t eat much — tried some Chinese food last night that didn’t work too well — and what I can is pretty specific.

I’m really looking forward to going to the Tennessee game — I’m supposed to get on a plane on September 1, a week from Friday. I want to conserve as much as my energy as I can so I can go to the game. I’m incredibly psyched to visit one of the hallowed grounds of College Football…and now really lucky that my brother took a teaching position at Penn St this year. I’m hoping for a trip to Happy Valley sometime soon to watch the Nittny Lions play! But it’ll be nothing like going to see Cal play a big time program… and if we win… watch out!!

So, that’s the current state of affairs.

Chemo II (the bleching)

August 15, 2006

I don’t wish this crap on anyone.

I’m not writing much this week, but it is nasty the second time. Blech, blech, blech.

Keep breaking apart, you frickin’ DNA cells. Wormer – DEAD! Neidermierer – DEAD! Adenocarcinoma – DEAD!!!

The day before…

August 13, 2006

Okay, so I know Chemo II starts tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to this, ’cause the doctors are all saying it’s gonna be nasty.

Up until now, things aren’t so horrific. I see the older folks in the cancer center really hurting and really sick from the treatment. I feel kinda guilty as I bound down the stairs to my daily radiation, with¬† my “usual high energy” and wanting to get a move on.

I’m still working through all of this, but will have to take time off for the Chemo week, August 14-19, since I’ll be hooked up to IVs and getting drugs.

So until now, it hasn’t been too bad. Chemo started on July 10th, along with Radiation. The first week of Chemo was just that — and by Wedndesday of the following week, I was fully back into the office, making a mess over a broken process here or there.

The daily radiation wasn’t a hardship — the center is in Berkeley, 10 minutes from my house. It takes about a half hour, there’s wireless in the waiting room, and most of the radiation technologists are cute young women working with high-tech machines. What’s not to like? :^)

My last day of radiation will be the first day of this next round of Chemo. So after Monday the 14th, I’m done with the radiation treatment. It’s only really started to burn this week — a strange sensation, like a sunburn on the inside. It’s not too bad, really, but I’m getting a bit fatigued.

Still, nothing compared to what I’ve seen with others. I feel like I’m getting off lucky so far… but Dr Cecchi is warning me “not to get cocky”. This next Chemo is supposed to be far, far worse.

My brother arrives tonight… got the sofa turned into a bed for him, and I look forward to his arrival so I can show off the new HD TV. We’ll see how things go…

Brian’s Party

August 12, 2006

I didn’t know if I could go to a friend’s 50th birthday party or not. It was very odd when I finally RSVP’d via email and let them know I was fighting cancer and that would be at the end of radiation. I got a call right back from Brian – and to my surprise, he too was fighting cancer. He pointed me to his really extensive blog (which is a HUGE reason and inspiration that I started this one).

I really wanted to go to two events: Brian’s party, and the Cal – Tennessee game. Brian also wanted to go to Knoxville, but couldn’t. We both went to the Citrus bowl in ’92 (Cal blew out Clemson), and had a great time with his whole family and mutual other friends watching Cal beat UW in Seattle last year. To urge me on to be well for the Tennessee game, they sent me this year’s Cal game day T-shirt — the blue shirt fans wear to the games. It was really cool encouragement and inspiration. Cal fans will understand. Thanks, Anna!

As the party day approached. I started to feel a little nauseous starting on Wednesday of the last full week of radiation. By Saturday I didn’t feel great, but well enough to go.¬† The party was awesome — the outpouring of support for Brian, the positive energy of everyone there, the whole notion that cancer is beatable and that Brian will beat it. When I left the party, Brian said “we’ll both beat this thing”.

The second round of Chemo would start just two days later on Monday, and I left with increased optimism that this last round would finish off the tumor. Brian, you’re right — we’ll both beat this thing.

The Tickets Arrive!

August 8, 2006

Well, the tickets came in the mail. And Payton Manning, one of my favorite NFL players, is on the Ticket! This UT alum came back for his senior season to win a championship and graduate with his buddies. Or so the story goes. What a class act. I am SO PSYCHED to go to Tennessee!!

(This was originally entitled “Last Train to Knoxville” until I realized that the Monkey’s song was “Last Train to Clarksville”, not “Knoxville”. I also thought about REM’s “Don’t go back to Rockville”, but that’s not Knoxville, either. Too many villes, too little time.)

Anyway, the Knoxville trip is locked and loaded. I’m so psyched! I’ve been posting on the Cal message site (cyberbears.org, not .com, the .com is some porn site, see avenue q’s “the internet is for porn” for a musical description on that one). Anyway, I’m meeting Dave and as it turns out Garth in Knoxville, along with Dave’s new Cal friend Rick who ended up going to undergrad at Berkeley with my brother. So it should be big fun!

The key is here for me is to have some goal outside of the nasty treatment. Now I can focus on getting to Tennessee. I now don’t hope I’ll be well enough; I’ll will myself well enough. Out of all the SEC teams, I’ve always liked Tennessee. One thing I do hope for is the ability to try the BBQ. Haven’t been eating too well, don’t know about food.

One thing at a time…

The T-Shirt

August 3, 2006

Go Bears t-shirt arrives! How cool is THAT??? There’s a whole bunch of posts here involving my friends Brian and Anna that I still need to write about, and also a bit about going to the Cal – Tennessee game in Knoxville (which I’ve written more about).

It’s not complete, but more on that later…

Timelines

August 1, 2006

So as I wait for Chemo II to begin, there’s a limited amount of knowledge anyone has based on three pretty big outcomes of a decision tree. After the Chemo on the week of August 14, then we wait for the cancer cells to die off.

About 4 weeks later (probably a week or two after Labor Day), I go in for another full set of scans — PET scans, CAT scans, DOG scans. Three macro outcomes can results (and I’m betting on a version of #1):

#1: The cancer is receding, and dying off.

#2: The cancer is showing no effects, or some shrinkage but not a lot, or maybe some other thing icky has happend.

#3: The cancer continues to grow and has spread further.

The problem here is that within each of these scenarios are hundreds of shades of grey. Once all the scan are done, Dr Cecchi will do all sorts of research and figure out options. Surgery is probably in the mix, somewhere.

Bottom line is we know nothing until after the scans. Now it’s wait for this next round of Chemo….