An overdue update

It’s been a while since I’ve updated everyone on my health.

Since then there have been a couple of changes such as my oncologist modifying the treatment plan. Originally he had told us I would have full-strength chemo for 4 weeks followed by ½ strength. Remember this is the most aggressive chemo treatment he can prescribe. Instead he’s decided to continue with full strength but every three weeks instead of 2. This gives me slightly improved quality of life - my holy grail - by giving me an extra week of recovery.

The other change is that the chemos are becoming less debilitating which means I recover sooner. This is good. However, the continuing of full-strength chemos are still very draining so this is not ideal. Getting his reasons for choices is not easy - the oncologist plays some cards close to his chest. One reason for this is the imprecise nature of oncology. Each patient is different. In my case while the cancer markers have dropped a little they have remained high. We think t…

Week 5 of chemo

I've been a little concerned about this upcoming chemo. Prior to each chemotherapy there's a blood test which the oncologist reviews the results of to determine if the chemo is working, what dosage he should use for the upcoming chemo etc.

Yesterday's was particularly important as the oncologist had said that a) I should start feeling better from the fourth chemo on and b) the cancer markers in my bloodstream should start dropping. The last ones had risen so there was a concern that these ones would also be high. OK, my concern not his but you know doctors - totally sure of themselves until proven wrong.

When I had asked the oncologist, "What happens if they haven't dropped?," he put a figurative gun to his head and figuratively blew his brains out. Not terribly comforting but then truth is better than...

When we met he only had partial results in but they showed that one of two markers had dropped. So instead of proceeding with a half dosage of the chemo he …

“Rough chemo today”

I wrote the following in an email thread to my family last Thursday. I’m copying it here because a) it belongs and b) it has a redeeming quality. At least I say something positive.

“Rough chemo today. The drugs leave me twitching - eye muscles and muscles in my arms legs and torso. This is very uncomfortable. Also leave me with tingling in the extremities and an extra sensitivity to the cold. It further interferes with speech to the point where it’s clear what I want to say but actually getting the words out is a challenge.

We just got home after a long day. The twitching etc. is starting to taper off a little.

I will be needing a very quiet evening.

Charmaine is doing all the driving, some of the interactions with the nurses, bringing me food and drink, and just generally being a servant to me - she does so much including lifting my spirits. She’s out now picking up the prescriptions the hospital faxed over as well as getting some groceries. She’s a godsend.”

Not feeling positive

So I’m not feeling positive. In fact I feel kind of down.

That’s why there’ve been no updates in a while. I didn’t want to write a negative post. I wanted it to at least have some redeeeming quality.

I’ve now given up on this. What’s the point of writing a blog if you can’t be honest - even if that means I’m not as positive ‘as I should be’.

When I look back at the past, I see who I was, the health I had. I see someone with energy, drive, and ambition.

Now I’m just tired. And waiting. And struggling with everything else related to cancer and chemotherapy.

No appetite, weight loss, weakness, nausea, changed tastebuds. The changed tastebuds part means I no longer enjoy the same foods I used to. In fact I don’t even reliably know what I like. I’m constantly guessing. And every now and then I guess wrong and Charmaine will cook something I ask for and then I end up not liking it.

The lack of appetite compounds this problem as I am forcing myself to eat to ensure I keep my weight up. Hard …

I have stage 4 pancreatic cancer and I’m 49 years old

I have stage 4 pancreatic cancer and I’m 49 years old. What this means is that I would have 6 months to live without treatment of any kind. It also means that treatments are palliative - in other words their  only purpose is to reduce pain and improve the quality of life for the few months and possibly 1-2 years left before death.

I’ve opted for the aggressive chemotherapy as this should, according to my oncologist, give me better quality of life. That’s what I told him - I’m interested in quality and not quantity. He said the cancer is very aggressive so, given my young age and prior health, he’s opted for the most aggressive chemotherapy.

It may also extend my life by some months - maybe another 6-12? Who knows. All I know is that I’m going to die relatively soon.

Fuck that really sucks!

I’ve known for a few months now and am going to have my fourth treatment this coming week. Each one renders me exhausted following it. It takes me a week to recover some strength.

I’m being weened o…

SpaceX lands first stage

You are not seeing a rocket lifting off in the above picture. You are seeing one return from space, after having successfully delivered its payload of 11 satellites to orbit, and land on a freaking 'X' on the earth.
The October 26, 2013 edition of the Economist reviews a biography on George Bush junior. One that discusses the legacy of his presidency. The review makes reference to this poem by Shelley,

Ozymandias I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed: And on the pedestal these words appear: "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.

                                                    - Percy Bysshe Shelley