When I wrote part one, I intended this “My Cancer Story (so far)” series to be a regular update about my health and my battle with colorectal cancer. Since it has been almost three months since my initial post, I guess an update is long overdue. Fortunately, there is news.
My chemotherapy started on November 20th, and I’ve now had 4 bi-weekly cycles, plus a week off for Christmas. I go in to Vince Lombardi Cancer Center (yes, that Vince Lombardi) on a Tuesday morning to get my red and white blood cell counts taken, then have a brief meeting with my oncologist, Dr. John Marshall. After about an hour or so, I go upstairs to the oncology department where I’m hooked up to an IV of chemo drugs via the med port in my chest and basically just relax, read a book, or listen to podcasts for the next 4 hours. I go home the same day, where I’m hooked up to the last chemo drug via medical fanny pack for the next 48 hours.
To be frank, I think I’ve handled it quite well. The first session was obviously the worst, as I didn’t know what to expect. I was exhausted–zombified really–and basically passed out for a couple days and lost too much weight (almost 20 pounds in two weeks). Fortunately, the following sessions were much better, I’ve gained some weight back, and I’ve been able to avoid the more annoying side effects like nausea and vomiting with the help of drugs.
The reason I wanted to post something this week was that this Friday, January 22nd, I have my first follow-up CT scans since diagnosis. Now the symptoms that sent me to the doctor in September have all but disappeared, but the real proof is in the photographs. So I’m going through now what the folks on colon cancer message boards call “scanxiety” (scan+anxiety). Lots of good work can go for naught with a bad scan.
I’m expecting decent results. My red and white blood cell counts remain decent, my liver markers have improved, and my CEA number (carcinoembryonic antigen–a protein that appears in the blood in response to cancer) is still high but on the way down. On the down side, my doctor heard a wheeze in my breathing on my last visit, so I’m getting a lung scan too. I didn’t get a lung CT when I was first diagnosed, so there’s a possibility I’ve been fighting lung metastases as well for the past three months and didn’t know it.
Anyway, wish me luck. I promise I’ll post the results before May rolls around.