Numbers Mean Squat

I will never forget the moment I woke up after my hemicolectomy in the recovery room. Josh was being consoled by Tim, the nurse, and my surgeon, Dr. D.C. He was being told that he had to take care of himself in order to take care of me. Tim asked him if he’d eaten dinner and, before Josh could answer, brought him a slice of pizza from his own dinner. Even in my anesthetized state, I knew something had to be really wrong if everybody was fussing over Josh and not me, the person who had just come out of surgery. More

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Swallowing Glass and Piercing Needles

I wanted to write last night, but two days of horrible insomnia finally caught up with me and I crashed at 9 pm.  Of course, I woke up at 3. am. and now can’t fall back asleep.  People have called and texted, curious to know how Round 2 is treating me.  The title of this post summarizes the highlights from the last couple days, although I expect more once I unhook myself from the 5-FU later today.  (I love that one of my chemo drugs is called “FU” — how appropriate.)  Last time, my nausea and fatigue peaked on Thursday.  I would expect the same this time. More

Armor On!

I spent today putting on my armor for the next battle in my war against cancer, for tomorrow is Round 2 of Chemo.

The physical preparation was pretty minimal and included just drinking lots of water throughout the day. The nurse told me last time to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day because there is metal in the chemo cocktail and I want to make sure to flush that metal out of my kidneys; the last thing we want is kidney failure. Yep, definitely don’t want that. So I thought I should beef up my water intake in advance, just to get my body used to peeing every hour for the next four days.

To mentally prepare, I’ve gone over the sequences of events tomorrow many times: More

Death, I’m Not Afraid of You

At this point, I’ve read a lot of blog and message board postings and watched a fair number of YouTube videos by people with colon cancer. It’s natural to want to know what other similarly situated people are thinking and feeling, in the hope that perhaps they might have some pearls of wisdom that will help me. People talk about what you would expect — appreciating every day, recognizing all the reasons to fight for life, being positive, taking one day at a time — which are all good perspectives to have. But, except for those people who are really on the brink, they don’t talk about the elephant in the room — Death. More

I’m Not Crazy

Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback on this blog thus far.

I know there are those of you out there who, while you might think this blog is a great idea, could never imagine yourself so publicly talking about a serious medical condition and the baggage that comes with it.  I know there are others of you — like my mother — who think I’m crazy (although you would never say so) and that the blog is just a terrible idea.  If I wanted to create a record for my children or vent, keep a journal, my mother would say.  Illness is a very private and personal matter that one shouldn’t even share with family members, she would insist.  I say “would” because I haven’t actually talked to her about this blog, other than to say, “FYI, I started one to keep people updated about what’s going” (so don’t be surprised if your nieces and nephews and total strangers know about what’s going on with your daughter).  Her response was, “Well, don’t tell people anything private.”  Ugh…whatever Mom.  I shut down the conversation before she could say the things I knew she waned to say. More

4 Lbs. in 1 Week

That pretty much sums up Round 1 of 12 of Chemo.  Not too long ago I would have been ecstatic with losing 4 lbs in a week, but not so much now.  Loss of appetite brought on by the fear of imminently throwing up the meager contents of my belly was the most troubling side effect of my first round of chemo.  In light of the exceedingly low expectations I had, I was quite happy with the nausea, particularly since I was able to fight it off with only taking the anti-nausea medication three times in three days.  I was operating under the theory that considering the amount of drugs floating around my body, I didn’t need to add Zofran into the mix unless I really needed to.

The doctor wasn’t so thrilled with the weight loss yesterday when I went in to discuss side effects, which is understandable.  It’s not like I have four pounds to lose after each of the next 11 rounds of chemo.  I’d already lost weight prior to surgery and regained only a little bit in the period between surgery and chemo starting.  Plus, I can’t get too excited about the minimal side effects this time around since side effects are cumulative, so I can expect worse nausea and other stuff to come in the months ahead.  So much to look forward to…

The solution — increase in dosage of anti-nausea medication infused prior to infusion of chemo and mandatory Zofran for 3 days afterwards (whether or not I feel nauseous).  So much for my purist desire to minimize the drugs in my body.  I will spend this and subsequent off-chemo weeks eating as much as I can (since fortunately my appetite has mostly returned).  I’m also changing my diet a bit to permit dairy products and fish.  I figure whatever unproven cancer-fighting benefits of avoiding such items at this point are outweighed by my need to gain weight and the nutritional benefits derived therefrom.

Coming Back and Getting Real

I wrote this email to family and friends on August 2 after our return from our unplanned month-long stay in Los Angeles. That was the beginning of yet another part of this cancer fighting journey, the part that involves coming home to face the unpleasant realities of living with cancer. More

It’s Stage IV Colon Cancer

This is the email I sent to friends and family on July 17.  Josh couldn’t bring himself to write an update to his previous email because he couldn’t write that his wife had Stage IV colon cancer (with all that that implies).  So I took it upon myself to do so since I didn’t want to leave people hanging with worry. More

What Was Removed — Don’t Look If You’re Gonna Be Queasy

This is what was taken out of me.  A piece of my colon that is over a foot long removed through an incision four inches long.  Medicine is amazing.  Shout out to my amazingly skilled and compassionate surgeon, who incidentally is my age.   Wow do I feel unaccomplished.

Tumor

The Beginning

Josh sent this email out to our friends and family on July 9, 2013, at which point we knew with absolute certainty that I had colon cancer (despite the slight hedging in the email). Those first days in the hospital were dark, full of shock, pain (physical and otherwise), confusion and, most of all, fear. Josh and I still relive those days, hours, minutes and seconds in our own version of post traumatic stress syndrome. More

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