Monday, February 18, 2013

The Cancer Blog: Week 4

My Health

This blog within a blog will discuss cancer and all of my fears, hopes and expectations for a positive outcome—full and complete recovery. In addition, I plan to throw in some latest medical research. All cancer patients are interested, to some degree, in research and the latest medical findings; I am no exception. 

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The first chemotherapy treatment last Tuesday went well; I spent most of the day at the cancer centre being assessed and receiving chemo treatment, a mixture of drugs that I discussed in a previous posting; my wife was with me all the way, sitting beside my bed helping to make the time pass more quickly. All the beds in the unit had someone accompany the cancer patients; no one was alone. The atmosphere was generally congenial; I met pleasant nurses and other patients and their families at the unit where I received treatment. This will become my routine every two weeks for the next five months, that is, until the end of July 2013.

Part of modern cancer treatment is reduce and alleviate any possible side effects, nausea being the most common; accordingly, I took home three anti-nausea drugs—Ondansetron (or Zofran®); Dexamethasone (or Decadron®) and Prochlorperazine (or Stematil®)—along with a detailed explanation sheet on the drug's use and when I need to take them. Very thorough. Very informative. It's not that the drugs are completely effective; I have suffered bouts of nausea, but thankfully its effect has been both mild and manageable

After the treatment ended,  which took about two hours, the nurse attached a baby-sized bottle to my port containing 230 mL of fluorouracil, an anti-cancer drug that is delivered through slow infusion and whose purpose is to interfere with the production of DNA and RNA, and thus stop the growth of cancer cells . I had to wear the baby bottle, which I kept either in my pocket or in front of me, held in place by a sling, for about two days.

Afterwards, a quick trip to the hospital and the nurse relived me of my bottle. I will repeat the routine in two weeks. I am always learning something new; the same nurse that relived me of my chemo bottle told me that I am not the exception when it comes to the age of colon cancer patients; I am 55. She said that many patients are now in their 40s, and some are in their 20s. I find this news surprising, but it just might be that modern medicine is doing an exceptional job at early cancer detection.

There's more. While at my first chemo session, I learned something important from one of the nurses supervising my treatment, which adds to the positive news. The therapy I am now receiving is called adjuvant therapy, or additional therapy. My surgery was considered the primary medical procedure and I was considered a prime candidate for adjuvant therapy since the surgery removed all the visible cancer. According to the protocols of adjuvant therapy, the chemo sessions act as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of cancer returning.

Such is great news, I think.

2 comments:

  1. People disagree about many things, but nobody likes nausea. Why do they agree to undergo chemotherapy? Choose life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am undergoing chemo because the alternative, scientifically and statistically, delivers less possibility of increasing one's lifespan. Being a rational person who values life, I like to go with the best possible outcome; that's chemo for now. L'chaim.

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