Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday, June 14th, 2010 - Getting ready for battle!

Helloooo bloggymates!!

Well, I'm sharpening my blogging pens/pencils/fingers and just going to have to settle down to writing more frequent blog entries. Once again, I'm heading into battle with these stew-pud cancer cells! They actually have had the gall to rear their ugly little cells and think they are going to go to battle and come out winners. Well, I have news for them... that is just not going to happen! I'll put on my war paint and go in and battle them single-handed if need be, although, I'm kind of hoping all you blogmates will join in the battle as well. We have fought this before as a team and came out victorious, so I see no reason why we can't again! :)

I had my appointment with Sharlene Gill, my oncologist who I adore. Sharlene had been on sabbatical from client practice for the last 6 months and was working on cancer research, but she is back now. And just in time!! As has been pointed out in a previous blog entry, there has been some concern about a growth in my left kidney. Also, since around Christmas, my CEA readings have been fluctuating. CEA readings are not necessarily an accurate tool for a lot of colon cancer patients but in my case, they have always been spot on. If my CEA rises, then this is usually an indication of active cancer somewhere... and each time we have found it and removed it.

Well, the CEA from last week registered at 5.2... up 2 points over the last couple of months. And the CAT scan I had done on Friday showed that the growth in the kidney has grown a couple of mm, as have two of the tumours in my lungs!! Wouldn't you know it... one tumour is at the top of one lung and the other tumour is at the bottom of the other lung. So it's not a matter of going in and zapping them, since it would mean two different sessions... with each session being a high risk of collapsing a lung. And this still wouldn't address the problem that these indolant tumours in the lungs have started growing.

Soooo... we need a plan, and my wonderful oncologist has one which she went over with me. At this point, we have no idea if the tumour in the kidney is in any way related to the tumours in the lungs. It's quite possible that the lung tumours, which we know are the spread of the colon cancer, so their origins were in the intestine/colon. The kidney tumour could actually be a new primary cancer -- kidney cancer. So, what she suggests is that I go on an oral (pill form) chemo that is known to work well on colon cancer cells. The hopes will be that this chemo will shrink the colon cancer tumours in the lungs. Meanwhile, if the tumour in the kidney IS colon cancer (it would be very unusual for colon cancer to have spread to the kidneys), then this chemo will affect it as well and could quite possibly shrink the tumour in the kidney. Not to mention, the chemo will go all through my system (systemic) so it could kill off any potential solo cells that might be floating about, looking for a place to land and take root. If the tumour in the kidney does NOT respond to the chemo, then we will know that this tumour is a new primary cancer and will have to be treated with a different treatment. What we would do then is go in and zap it with the RFA procedure. But if the chemo DOES work for it, then that would save an RFA procedure for another time when it might be needed. So we are sort of covering a couple of scenerios with this chemo plan... and this is a good thing.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), I go back to the Cancer Agency to pick up my first two week cycle of chemo (in pill form). The chemo I will be going on is called Capecitabine (aka Xeloda in the US). This is the one that I took while getting radiation therapy every day for 6 weeks. At that time, I was on the IV chemo 5-Fluorouracil. Since my oncologist wanted me to still have chemo while going through the radiation, she switched me to the Capecitabine for comfort and convenience. Taking the pills would be a lot easier on me than being hooked up to my chemo pump and IV for 6 weeks straight. But, my extended health insurance (Blue Cross) didn't quite see it that way. They figured, because of the high cost of the pill form, I should stay on the IV form, so wouldn't pay for the oral form. It got a little tense because I felt like I was getting the runaround. I called my employer in Victoria at the time and I don't remember what all happened but the employer told Blue Cross to pay for the chemo... and so they did.

I was thinking, "Oh no... am I going to have to go through this all over again, since now I'm a "Retired Employee" and no longer a working employee. I still have the Extended Health Care coverage... but, you know how private insurance companies can be ;) But alas... I don't have to worry. I have not been on any kind of Chemo treatment for almost 3 years. So this is a new round of treatment that my oncologist is prescribing for me. I do not need to go and have a port placed just under my collarbone for an IV, so I won't be going through the process of going and sitting in a chemo unit for 4-5 hours every two weeks. My chemo plan will just be to pop a pill twice/day... and for that treatment, the BC Cancer Agency will cover the costs. Phew! These pills cost upwards of $75/pill and since a treatment is given over a course of 12 weeks, that works out to 112 pills at $75 a pop.

Anywho... it is getting late, so I'm going to call it quits here for this entry. I am totally planning on carrying on as normal. TUTS is getting super busy and I plan on being down there as often as ever... and if I have to take some down time should I get tired easily, then so be it. But I have worked the two summer shows in the past when I was on chemo so I don't see why that would change. Of course, this time I also am involved with Metro Theatre as well, as their publicist. The majority of my work for them is done at home on the computer, so that shouldn't change either. The way I look at it, the more I keep my life and lifestyle "normal" as in continuing my everyday things... then the more normal this time on chemo will remain.

I'll be back with more babbling but right now I need to get a few things done before I go to bed :)

Ciao for now!



Melinda said...

I'm glad you are on the "easier" chemo dose this time and can carry on pretty much as normal. Just keep telling your body to rid itself of those bad cells and I will keep sending good thoughts your way! xox

Deb said...

You are a tank! A little determined Canadian tank! I continue to send prayers, good vibs and positive energy flowing your way my dear! <<>>


Deb said...

You are a tank! A little determined Canadian tank! I will continue to send prayers, good vibs and positive energy flowing your way my dear! Love you! <<>>


Truly Low Carb Karen said...

Pills sound better than an IV, for sure. You know we are all with you - not behind you, but beside you - and we believe in the power of Super-Cheryl. Run and hide, deviant cells!

Anonymous said...

You know you've got my untiring support! Gearing up my good, good, good, good vibrations for the battle. Love and Hugs, Susan S. (Issaquah)

Anonymous said...

How dare those cancer cells try and get the upper hand. Pills sound like much better battle plan for those cells than IVs.

Sending you good thoughts!

Chet White said...

Cheryl, Your upbeat attitude and positive outlook will serve you well this time as it always has in the past. All of us sending you positive thoughts win't hurt either. HUGS.

Jocelyn said...

Sending you Love and Aloha from Hawaii