Monday, June 9, 2008

up, down, turn around...

I just spoke to my oncologist about my upcoming treatment, which appears to be a bit intense: I’ll have blood tests again this Wednesday before my operation(s) on Thursday; just to be sure my platelets are up to snuff. The procedure(s) itself will be rather simple and probably painful: 2 – 3 moles excised along with surrounding tissue, stitches and home. I will see my oncologist on Thursday morning just before the operation(s).

Radiation next month will consist of a CT scan on 9.7, followed by a week of planning and plotting by the radiologists to come up with the theme for next month’s blog posts. It will most likely be Monday to Friday 5x /week for a month – just like Ted Kennedy! We’ve had similar operations (they had thought I had a glioblastoma in the same spot) and treatment options.

Dr. Kubáčková assured me that the Radiology department (especially their super-duper, laser-guided, state-of-the-art equipment) at Motol is the best in Central Europe – the definition of which is still unclear to me, having seen it change so many times in the last 15 years. “Better than Vienna!” she exclaimed. Well, that’s good enough for me. Chemo will be suspended during my radiation treatment, which means that I will have two more cycles: to begin next Wednesday and the 9th of July, presumably just after the CT.

Tom Parker mentioned a couple weeks ago on the phone that I hadn’t really described what chemo was like in the blog. Well, it’s like this:

three days of getting up early, long trip to the hospital, waiting around, sitting around watching the slow drip, fading in and out of restless sleep; then:

sharp, yet dull, non-throbbing, but constant, shake-your-head unbelievable pain – it feels like someone is amputating your arm from the inside out and there’s nothing you can do about it [this only happens with Dacarbazine (and slowly fades after about five minutes) and Carmustine, which is worse, and doesn’t fade during the half-hour drip]; then:

fatigue, nausea, vomiting, generally feeling like total shit, trying to shower with that thing in your arm without getting it wet, trouble walking, dread and depression; then:

after about a week, gradually feeling better – peaking exactly at the moment it’s time to go back for another cycle.

All-in-all, a pretty shitty experience all round. I don’t find it comforting that most everyone I share a room with during the process is both older and worse off than me – I find it incredibly sad. The horror stories I've read on the Internet, however, make me grateful that I don't have it so bad.

This last cycle was one of the easiest, as they found a rare, good, solid, virgin vein – which is half the battle. The side effects, however, were much worse, as attested by the fact that I had to use four different anti-nausea medications: ranging from Tums to the aforementioned $20 a pill silver-bullet, Kytril – for which I pay only 40 cents, thanks to my ironically golden ticket state health insurance. And still threw up.

Dr. K. also confirmed Dr. Pikus’ analysis of my last PET scan. The lung tumor appears to be dying; further treatment 'should' 'eventually' take care of it.

I passed on your compliments to my cat, who seemed appreciative – judging by her toothless grin/grimace (hard to tell, really)? I have to make more tea now, as stony-faced Dr? Wang is taking full credit for my progress. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I’ll answer them next time. Thanks again for your continuing support.

Oh yeah! Friday's results: WBC: 5.9, platelets (PLT): 157 - both normal ranges.


Jason said...

Mike.....friday was nice up in Letna. Look forward to more future underground bluegrass ;-) Jason,

Chief said...


I will write more later. You--along with my uncle who survived pancreatic cancer (and chemo and three major surgeries and is now cancer free!!) last year--are my hero.

You're blog, furthermore, reminds me of the necessity of the written word.

"The young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed--love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

[. . .]

I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail."

--William Faulkner, Stockholm, December 10, 1950

Anonymous said...

Mike, That post was very was the comment. Keep working towards the cancer free goal. You are in my thoughts. Ann

Greg said...

Maybe your Chinese doctor is right to take the credit:
"A MIRACLE cure for cancer and heart disease has been discovered in Chinese food, scientists revealed last night.

An extract of red yeast rice, which gives Peking duck its distinctive colour, may cut cancer deaths by two-thirds and heart disease by a third."

Paco said...

Mucho animo Mike, desde Madrid te mandamos siempre toda nuestra fuerza. Paco, Rebeca y America

Jake Doyle said...

Right on, Mike. You are in tune with the spirit and you shall overcome. Keep it up!

Tim said...

Wanted to wish you a belated happy-MikeFEST™ and say I miss you and wish you well. Hoping to see you in person one of these days, but with the dollar in the toilet work is less accomodating with travel than once upon a time.

Enjoyed your mormons-on-the-bus story in particular - I had a few run-ins too when I was there. Got to be a particularly challenging country to proselytize in.

Best wishes,

Tim B.