Surprise! You Have Cancer, Part 8
The Breaking PointMarch 3rd, 2017
I got my wires crossed about the cat-scan on March first. It was just a date for a progress report and a plan of action.
I have to get back on the chemo.
I was hoping to never go back to the chemo room again. But I guess that was just wishful thinking.
I have to restart chemo on the 28th of March. I did get my Oncologist doctor to switch the Oxaliplatin for another chemical. This new chemo is called Camposar by trade. It is the chemical irinotecan hydrochloride. We call it I-ran-to-the-can because it causes diarrhea instead of the neuropathy I was getting from the Oxaliplatin. That is an easy choice for me. I'd much rather ride the throne and deal with "wipers wrist" than to not be able to feel my face.
I was scheduled to go to physical therapy. It is supposed to alleviate this numbness and also stop my arthritic like symptoms. It is the chemo that is causing it. Also maybe getting back on the steroids will help. They come with the chemo. But the arthritis has let up substantially since then and I don't feel like we can afford the expense. So, for now at least, I'm going to try to do without it. The numbness is going away too, very very slowly but it it is getting better every day.
March 14th, 2017
We going thru one of those spells where everything goes wrong. It has really set us back. Hopefully, when it ends we will have super good luck for a while to make up for it.
I still have a cat scan scheduled for May 2nd. The verdict from that is the important thing right now.
March 29th, 2017
Back home after my first day of chemo since December.
I did not want to go today. I had that "going to the principles office" poor Clint, why me blues.
But everything went well. It only lasted 8 hours, which is slightly less than before.
Tami brought me some maccy-do cheeseburgers for lunch so I didn't have to eat the specially prepared box lunch. Hate that healthy stuff.
Other than the normal displeasing event that is a chemo session, I did have some good things happen today.
First, as I was hoping the steroids have done wonders for my shoulder, arm, and hand pain.
Second, all of my test results were as well as could possibly be hoped for. It all looks great.
And I punched cancer in the mouth one more time.
As you can see in the pictures, the chemo room is very bright and sunny. The nurses and staff go out of their way to make the place as pleasant as possible.
My chemo tree. All these chemicals go directly into my bloodstream through a port (shown below) that has been installed into my chest. The port has a plastic hose attached that goes all the way to within 4 inches of my heart. That way the chemo is dispersed very quickly.
April 11th, 2017
We made through another long chemo day. They lost my first blood test so I had to do another one and wait for the results before the chemo started. I ended up starting the chemo at 10:30am. We finally got home at around 4pm.
Just a normal routine chemo day. Tired and weak, mild nausea. I guess you can get used to anything.
All of my blood counts were slightly below acceptable levels across the board, red, white, hemoglobin etc. That's probably why I'm so tired all the time. But they were not by any means alarmingly low.
I've lost another 5lbs since last time. I am now at 142lbs. I have about a 29 waist. I am a small as I've been since I was 16. The cancer/chemo diet, guaranteed to help you lose weight and tighten that belt line.
Here I am at home in my man cave after a day of chemo. You can see the chemo port on my chest here. I am wearing a portable pump. After a chemo session I wear the porta-pump for 2 days.
It sorta looks like a baby alien sucking the life out of me doesn't it? My grandson Bentley saw me with the pump on and started crying. He wouldn't let me hold him for the entire time he was here. He wouldn't even look at me. It hurt ol' Poppy's feelings.
The continuous flow of chemo keeps me wired up the whole 48 hours. I'm lucky if I get 4 hours of sleep. But once this thing comes off I will crash and sleep for 3 to 5 days.
You can see the effects of the weight loss and the tooth loss. I have been lucky in that I have had only a little hair loss. I have been unlucky in that not a bit of the hair loss was in my ears, nose or butt crack.
You have to admit that if I'm willing to put this picture on the internet I have absolutely no pride left.
I'll quote Leon Spinks who said this when asked why he was willing to come out of retirement and face a young Mike Tyson: "I ain got nuthin to loose, I ain got no teefus, I ain got no money, I ain got nuthin to lose". Well, maybe he didn't really say that, but Richard Pryor said he did. Anyway I know exactly how Leon felt. Hopefully though, I'll beat cancer and not get knocked out in the first round.
May 3rd, 2017
I went thru a cat scan yesterday and had a visit with my radiation doctor today.
Most important is that the cancer has not spread.
It's not gone and I'm not cured but the biggest tumor is now only 13mm (about a 1/2 inch). That's the biggest one. So it's a big improvement. No more radiation is warranted. But I do have to stay on the present chemo cycle. I will get another cat scan in September.
There is a bell on the wall outside of Dr. Stokes office. If you are declared cancer free you get to ring it, long and loud. So far I've heard it once. It does happens fairly regularly I'm told. Didn't get to ring the bell today, but the cancer has not spread at all, and I'm looking forward to the possibility that one day I might.
May 7th, 2017
Cancer is a very humbling disease. If you start out with a lot of pride you are in for a rude awakening. It starts out with all the poking and prodding, getting naked in front of people you don't know and the constant need for help doing some basic tasks. As it progresses you lose your healthy look, you age 10 years in one, you lose weight, lose your muscle tone and in my case I lost most of my teeth.
Soon you are no longer a productive human being, you are no longer the bread winner, you are now a parasite. You have to depend on others for everything. My poor wife has had to take on the whole load. She is holding up great, she is my hero. I can see it is taking a toll on her too. Her fight and will shames me into sucking it up and trying harder to deal with this disaster. In a lot of ways she is suffering as much as I am. But she is strong, and I am stronger because of her.
At this point this illness has cost us our entire life savings and left us hopelessly in debt. A few days ago I found out that our granddaughter who lives with us had hidden her school pictures order form because she didn't want us to spend the money on them. This broke my heart and it was my breaking point. It is the reason I decide to do the gofundme campaign.
It is a gut wrenching and embarrassing thing to have to ask other people for money. It's a desperation move. But I have been pleasantly surprised with the results. I haven't had anyone say anything bad about it. And we have found that we really have a lot of friends who care.
I don't know if the relief it has given us is maybe responsible for it but I have had the best 4 days that I can remember since last August. I have been eating almost normally. Right at this moment I feel great. Nothing is really hurting and although I'm not exactly perky I'm not exhausted either. I have slept normal hours the last few nights too.
But, Tuesday the 9th, 2 more days, and it will be chemo day again. I feel confident, I'm going to try my best to fight it and not let it get me down. I am going to fight for myself, and for my family and friends who invested in me. I hope to get better some day and get myself in a position where I can pay it forward.
Cancer is terrible. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. There is nothing good about it. But the fight, the struggle to beat cancer does bring out the best in you. It brings out the strength you didn't know you had. It gets your priorities straight. It brings you closer to the people in your life. It opens your eyes to the love you have always had but somehow just didn't really show. It has made me a better person.
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