I have a new blog in the can that is typically philosophic about my last day in chemo. I realized that a vast majority of folks just want an update. If you’re almost as old as I am you may remember Sgt. Joe Friday and Dragnet; “Just the facts please” so here they are:
My last day of chemo today came off without a hitch. There are a lot of other moving parts to my treatment so I didn’t feel like doing a metaphorical happy dance in the end zone, but I do feel good about completing this phase of treatment – both in terms of my confidence in killing the stubborn, aggressive, microscopic, bastard, mutated lymphoma cells and bringing me back to full health.
My primary oncologist, Dr. Bill Martin, feels good about how my body is responding and how the treatment is going in general. My blood work “counts” are all doing well, which is to say they are low or off but in ways that are to be expected. The bonus is Bill, a mtn. biker, tells me how much my red blood cell counts are down so I can tell whoever I am working-out with – or myself – why I am slow and breathing so hard. It’s nice to have an excuse, especially in Bend which is kind of a Mecca for elite endurance athletes. I did a somewhat tiresome uphill ride here on Monday, solo, and I felt good but tired. Bill told me I did it with the equivalent of 3 liters less blood (what he really means is I am down on oxygen carrying red blood cells by that amount) and I felt better about myself.
Next is my last hospital stay for high dose methotrexate on July 18th, then a month off in which I will traveling, catching up on a backlog of client work, visiting my family in Va. and taking a small respite with Moe at the beach. In early September I begin radiation for what we think will be three weeks, and then I really will be done.
What follows is “monitoring” which includes coming in for periodic blood tests and an occasional scan. Bill is trying to weigh the balance between the harm that the scans do to me which can raise the incidence of other, new cancers, with the desire to stay on top of any new problems, if there are any. Although it could be argued I have not had that many scans – I haven’t compared to a lot of people – it could also be argued that my body doesn’t like radioactivity, etc., and that might have contributed to the mutated cells we are now trying to kill. This cancer comes with less certainty than the first one – I’ll know I am cured if nothing comes back that is lymphoma. That’s it.
I am optimistic but as I have said, I’ll never turn my back on cancer again. 90% of the time I feel positive and good. 10% of the time I fall into anxiety and some despair, wondering how long I have left on the planet and if my time here will be cut short.
So those are the facts, I’ll post the more philosophic (and longer) blog is a day or two. Thanks for caring. It makes a difference to me.