A couple of weeks back I had an unexpected weekend of no chemo, so amongst other things, Hannah and I spent one afternoon parked up at Maraetai Beach, just reading books, wandering along, and general relaxing. I could’t help but over hear a couple of ducks having a conversation about politics and weather a bit further along.
Shutter 1/400, f/11, ISO 400, 250mm.
After a prolonged five week break, I have finally had round 15 of chemo.
It seems that it was both simultaneously worse, and yet better. I think the worse parts of it were solely due to the loss of tolerance, and the fact that I was five weeks chemo free, giving me a taste of what pseudo good health is like. It was better in that I took a lot less anti-emetic medications, and didn’t feel as though I needed them to the same degree as previous rounds. So that was an improvement.
Of course, I am now officially off the drug trial now, meaning that chemo goes a couple of hours quicker on a friday. I’m pretty sure I was on placebo anyway, and on the off chance that I was actually on the trial drug, there is no evidence that it confers any benefit, which is the reason for the trial in the first place. If, it did infer benefit, the goal of the drug is purely to elongate life, outcome (i.e. death) still does not change. So, all things being equal, I decided to give it the kick and make my life much easier by not being on it.
Ultimately, the decision could be lumped into one of either two philosophical camps. The first being that you do all and everything in your power to fight cancer, that whatever opportunity comes your way you take and prioritise over everything else. The second camp is where you weigh up the evidence, and disregard emotive motivation. It’s where you make a decision based on probabilistic analysis of the information at hand, understanding that there is risk with whatever way you may sway in that process. I decided on the latter philosophy. Largely this comes from how I am wired as a person, and also the fact that emotive decisions can very easily lead you on wild goose chases from this potential cure to the next. There is always another hoop to jump through when you are looking for something to cure your cancer.
So now, over the next few weeks, I continue with work on the colorectal team at Auckland hospital (ironically the same team who is looking after me), and am looking at arranging some elective time on the liver transplant team after that.
And then… in the scarely not too distant future…… I qualify….
Till next time…
When I’m on chemotherapy, the perception of the world becomes distorted. I see the world, but it becomes this strange, unpleasant place. The colours are never the same, the feelings always tinged with nausea.
I’m hoping to find the world as it should be in the next day or so, rather than the dream-like state I find it in now.
Shutter 1/80, f/11, ISO 200, 250mm.
Shutter 1/160, f/4.5, ISO 100, 50mm.
Just a quick update to current proceedings. I went in for my 15th round of chemotherapy this morning, only to discover that my last blood test showed myself to be Neutropenic (i.e. low neutrophils). The threshold for the trial I’m on is no less than 1.5 and I came in at 0.9. We retested this morning and I was even lower on 0.8.
This basically means that round 15 has been deferred, ideally till next week. However, this raises more issues since I will be in Christchurch next weekend, and it might be delayed a second week to the week after. If we do delay another 2 weeks, this then will potentially get me booted off the drug trial I am on at the moment.
So, we are trying to get an exemption from the powers that be to stay on the trial.
It’s all fun and games until someone gets neutropenic.
Till next time…
Last week we had a few days on Waiheke Island. We stayed at a B&B (although the winter special meant the second B was missing) on the south side of the island. This meant remote beaches and seclusion. It was a great break.
This photo was taken one evening just as the sun was going down with a ND filter.
Shutter: 8.0s, f/9, ISO 100, 21mm.
Well, the most recent scan has come and gone, and because I had a 3 week break in between rounds, I have only got the results back today.
Essentially, the scan shows no change, i.e. ‘stable disease’. This is pretty much the same result that we have had all year, but this is not a bad thing. What it means is that we are getting response from the cancer in that it is not growing. The goal from the chemotherapy regime is just that, to hold the cancer at bay for as long as possible, and to extend my life for as long as possible.
After discussion with the oncologist a few weeks back, it would seem that I’m already doing better than the average person with my diagnosis and my chemotherapy regime. On average 1 in 5 people on this regime (FOLFIRI) are hospitalized during the first 6 months of treatment from side effects alone. On the whole, I have had fairly manageable side effects. I generally feel like rubbish when on chemo, but recover well, and I’m able to continue with life in-between rounds relatively unhindered.
So that is the latest on progression/non-progression of the illness. Round 15 chemo starts this friday, and I’m hoping that with a bit more free time on my hands that I will be able to update this blog with some more meaningful posts in the not too distant future.
Till next time…