Monday, November 17, 2008

Like cake

Serena cheering me through Cycle 15/17.


Numba 15 is done! It was like liquid cake, fed intravenously through my chest and bringing about a slight burning sensation in my nostrils. Okay, so the analogy doesn't work that well, but what I mean is, the day seemed to go by with few problems. I had to get poked three times in my double-lumen port, though - once in the morning to access one lumen for bloodwork, and then twice after my doctor's appointment before getting treatment, because the first needle was defective. No big deal, but we did determine that using the cold spray that they have does in fact help reduce the pain of inserting the needle (we did the first one without the spray and the second one with the spray. Normally I have to smear on this lidocaine cream half an hour beforehand to numb the area, but since I had done that before labs earlier in the day, it had worn off by the time I was getting treatment. Anywayz. . . ). I had a little bit of nausea after lunch, so I took an Ativan, and after claiming to my nurse Kyla that Ativan doesn't actually make me that sleepy, I promptly fell asleep for the rest of the afternoon until about 4pm. We got out of there pretty late, about 7:30pm, but I feel pretty good, relatively speaking. This was a Vincristine/Cyclophosphamide cycle, and it's been hit or miss since I dropped the Adriamycin. After the first one-day cycle I had, I went camping the next day and was relatively fine. I didn't feel perfect, but I was able to hike and wander around with no big problems. The second time I felt pretty crappy for a couple days after. We'll see what this one holds. Sometimes I think if I force myself to do something rather than lie around and feel crappy it might be better. Who knows.

In general, I'm still on track, thanks to the new timing schedule for my neupogen shots, and things are going pretty well. No lumps or bumps or humps or clumps anywhere. The latest scans show nothing in my pelvis, and the little lung nodules persist, indicating that they were probably not metastasis to begin with - a definite good sign. I've had some blood in my urine the past couple cycles, though, so the docs have upped my dose of Mesna, which Serena likes to say in the voice of Edna Mode from the Incredibles: "Mehhh-znah". Mesna acts as a bladder protectant, but apparently it's not been doing its job very well. Protect that bladder! Hopefully I won't have any significant toxicity issues, or I might not be able to finish off the last two cycles. I suppose it wouldn't be the worst thing - at this point in the protocol it's unclear as to whether these last two make a difference or not. Still, the big thing is. . . ONLY TWO MORE!!!

Psychologically, though, I'm cautiously optimistic. I've certainly had darker days (usually right before I begin a cycle I'm just in a bad mood - It's hard when you feel relatively normal and you know you have to go feel crappy for a couple days), but I think the worst of the uncertainty is yet to come. While you're getting treatment, you know that you're actively doing something. You have a plan, and a set of tasks that you need to accomplish. Once you're done treatment, you just have to wait and see. You go into surveillance mode and try and continue with your life, always wondering if the cancer will rear its ugly head again. I never thought I would be turning 30 with the prospect of this kind of uncertainty in my life. I'm sure it will hit me even harder when the treatment is done.

So, nice, vague question for the day: How do you deal with uncertainty in your life?

Here are some random pics to peruse while you're contemplating:

My cousin Monica had a baby girl in SF on Saturday. My mom and I went to visit on Sunday afternoon.
My mom holding her yet-to-be-named grand-niece.

The newly expanded family: Monica, Jimmy (her husband), baby, and Sophie (their two-year old).

Monica with baby, Mom with Sophie, and me with bald baby-like head.

Okay, now answer the question!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Contemplating my prostate


A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and commented to me about how after the biopsy parts of her were now floating around the country for second opinions and what not. I guess I never thought about it, but it's true for me, too. There are chunks of my prostate in New York, Baltimore, San Francisco, and Stanford. Kind of a strange thought, eh?

In other news, the last cycle finished up without too much fanfare, except my last day was on Halloween, so there was a bit of excitement in the ITA with some of the nurses dressed up in costume. Also, my friend Blase showed up for a visit, as you can see in the pictures. He works over in the children's hospital next to Stanford and I'm sure had tons of fun with the kiddies (apparently they turn the hospital into a trick-or-treating extravaganza for a few hours during the day). The adult side was not quite as exciting, but there was a little bit more spirit than usual, so that was nice for the last day of my cycle. Only 3 more to go. . .

If I weren't holed up in the hospital, I would have been Avatar: The Last Airbender, but alas, the timing didn't quite work out. The alternative was to do as my friend PJ suggested and paint three holes on my head and be a bowling ball. In any case, I want more comments on the blog, so here's the question of the day: What were you for Halloween this year?

Look who dropped in!

Me and my puffy face