I know, I know... no one needs to remind me that the last blog entry was Dec 1st!! Yikes, that's over two months ago!! Where has the time gone by? Oh sure, there were the holidays in there, and then the Pancreatitis which did more than a bit of a number on me, and then a scare from one of the oncologists, and the list goes on and on and on. So where do I start to fill in two months of my life into some sort of readable babble that doesn't end up boring you to death??
Oh, what the heck, may as well just jump in, start somewhere and then take it from there. Let's start with some cheery good news! :D In the past year (Feb 2011 to Feb 2012), I have been trying to lose some weight, but without getting down to any serious dieting plans. I figure, since something (we aren't sure if it's the chemo or any of the meds I've been on) has taken away my appetite starting back in, I believe it was August, then this is as good a time as any to watch what I'm eating. More the good old "portion" control since my taste buds are just fine, but I have zero appetite... this should make portion control fairly easy to follow. Well, from Feb 2011 to July 2011, not too much happened... but then, I still had a reasonably healthy appetite. I lost 15 lbs in those 6 months. Nothing to get too excited about, but at least it was a loss and not a gain. Feb 2011 saw my weight at it's heaviest EVER, so 15 pounds is 15 pounds. Then the appetite disappeared. From Aug to just last week (Feb 6, 2012) I have lost a further 50 lbs, bringing my total weight loss for the year up to a total of 65 lbs! YAYAYAYA! Now, you would think that I could really notice a 65 lb loss, but it's like you hear where an anorexic thinks they are fat, even when they only weigh 75 lbs!! Ok, I'm NOT an anorexic by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't see the weight loss... I see myself as the same as before and notice no difference. Weird, no? But that's ok... I am going to keep doing what I'm doing and know that every kilo lost is a good thing for me... especially if down the road I have to look at surgery or an RFA procedure. So yayaya on me!
Now, the not so good news. Over December, I managed to catch one of the nasty colds/bronchial bugs. Nothing earth shattering and it was no different than the colds/bronchitis I've had many many times in the past. But since I had that bad reaction to one of the chemos last year (Irinotecan), as soon as I got this bug, I also got the bronchial spasms that supposedly are so common with people who have chronic asthma or chronic bronchitis. Grrrr! This is a real pain in the butt... bronchial spasms are when the bronchial tubes are inflamed so when you exhale (and sometimes inhale) you "wheeze" or "gurgle". You can still breathe when you have this, but it can give you a panicky feeling that you aren't going to be able to breathe... although I've had no problem breathing when I have this. Well, my cold/bronchitis cleared up pretty much by New Years Eve... but the damn bronchial spasms refuse to go away. And there's nothing that can be done for them other than, if they are bothering me, I use the "puffers"/"inhalers". I just wish it would go away so that I can feel like my breathing and lungs are ok. You can't help but feel, since I know my tumors are in my lungs, that the bronchial spasms might have something to do with the condition in my lungs, even though all the doctors say the two are not related.
Speaking of lungs and tumors... there's one bugger of a tumor that has been ignoring the treatments. Last count that I'm aware of, I have about 11 tumors throughout both lungs, of different sizes. It's the largest one that is acting up and ignoring the chemo treatment that I've been on. From Sept to the beginning of December, I was on Vectibix at full strength. OMG! I can't begin to explain the side affects and how much they affected my quality of life. The most notable.. my fingers and toes. I can't even begin to describe the incredible pain... and even now, when I think back, my mind has blanked out the worst of it. But as I tried to describe to a friend, when I went to pick up something, let's say a fork... it was as if someone took a hammer to my fingers and before I could finish the scream, slammed them with a door. This is just from touching something! The toes were probably the same, but since I have severe neuropathy in my feet, I couldn't feel the physical pain the same as I could with my fingers... but I would notice blood on the carpet while walking with bare feet... the bottoms of my feet and toes were peeling so badly they were bleeding.
So, starting Dec 1st, I was on a 6 week break from the chemo with the hopes that both fingers and feet would heal over the break period. Meanwhile, it was noted that the majority of the tumors were stable (IE: Not growing, not doing anything). The good news, the feet and most of the fingers healed just fine. Two fingers were taking their sweet time healing and ironically, the week I could say I think they both had healed was the week we started on chemo again ;)
But, I missed out on something... pancreatitis! Yes, at the end of November/beginning of December, I somehow managed to have a pancreatitis attack! I've never had one in my life so was not aware of what was happening. I just felt really sick and thought that, with my compromised immune system because of the chemo, I may have contracted a nasty stomach flu. I had no idea that this was pancreatitis and I should not have waited around but should have gone straight to the hospital. As horrible and painful as it was, apparently this was just a mild case. If it had been a more severe case, I would have been forced to go to the hospital and chances are, would have been placed in ICU, that's how nasty pancreatitis can be. This was another reason why I was given a break from the chemo. Although this particular chemo is not considered related to causing pancreatitis at all, your body is fighting enough just going through chemo treatments. Now, since my pancreas was inflamed, it only made sense to stop the chemo so my body would have a chance to be able to fight the pancreatitis.
For those who aren't aware... the pancreas is a small organ that plays a very important told in life. It is the organ that creates hormones, digestive enzymes and insulin... three things that are very important to the workings of one's body. Since the pancreas was badly inflamed during the bout of pancreatitis, everything was thrown out of whack when it came to these three things (hormones, digestive enzymes, insulin). Oh lucky me! Because the insulin was thrown out of whack, guess who now has diabetes?? As if I don't have enough on my plate??? So, I have been put on diabetes medication (Metformin) and so far (knock on wood) I do not have to take daily insulin shots.
I am now back on my chemo (Vectibix), only at a lower dosage than what I was getting before Christmas. We are hoping that the lower dose will still knock the tumor down, or at least keep it stable and stop it's growth... without having that horrible reaction that my fingers and feet had to it. I have had two treatments at the lower dose and so far, so good!
Ok... so that's the medical report which catches everyone up to the here and now... we are now in the middle of February 2012. I tried to keep it short and to the point but as you can see, it still took up a lot of space to report. All the more reason I have to do blog entries more often!! I am feeling just fine. My only complaints at the moment are the darn bronchial spasms which tend to cause me to wheeze when I'm breathing... which also tends to make me run out of breath faster than normal. I also get tired easily when I find it hard to breathe. It's a vicious circle.
It also doesn't help that an acquaintance of mine, Lisa, who has the same kind of cancer and, it too, went to her lungs. So the two of us have pretty much been on par with each other as far as treatments, etc. goes. She sees doctors in California and, of course, mine are all up here in Vancouver. But the protocol of treatments are pretty much the same all over North America when it comes to treating cancer with chemo/radiation therapies. Lisa and I have been keeping track of each other's progress only because our cases/conditions seemed so similar. She is a good 10 years or more younger than I am, but we both were in relatively good health throughout our treatments. She did end up switching to an organic, mostly vegetarian diet... which is something I have not been interested in doing. Unfortunately, Lisa's condition took a turn for the worst :/ She is now in hospice care and has the hospice nurses coming into her home. It's just a matter of time now and she will be leaving a husband and three children behind. So darn sad... and yes, it hits way too close to home for me.
But I'm keeping myself busy, busy, busy so I don't have to be thinking of the worst case scenarios. Right now, I am involved with a show in town called the "Marvelous Wonderettes". So much fun!! 4 wonderful girlfriends who happen to be extremely talented putting on this show. To hear them harmonize together is pure magic... not to mention the songs in this show take us straight down memory lane :D The first act takes place at their 1958 Prom Night, so all the music is from the 1950s. The second act takes place at their 10 year reunion, so 1968... and all the music in this act is from the 1960s.
Hehehe... I was going to add pictures throughout this blog entry (as if it weren't long enough already) but I figure that would only take more time trying to find pictures that were related to what I was talking about, so once again the blog entry would be delayed
My mind has gone blank right now! I know I'm missing out on a whole bunch of stuff that has happened or is happening in my life. Oh that darn memory... it comes, it goes and I never know when it's something I'm going to be able to rely on :) So, tell you what... I'm going to post this entry as is... and if I remember all the stuff that I meant to talk about, then I'll post a new entry
Until the next time....