‘cancer’ Category



Yesterday was #12, the final chemo! That means, I’m done! Finished! It’s over! (Well, it’s over once this week’s side-effects wear off.) I can’t really believe I’ve been doing this for half a year… it’s become a bit of a blur. Now all that’s left is getting through the next 5 days of side-effects, getting my PET/CT scan next week (ugh, that means fasting in the morning, drinking a couple cups of barium contrast, and sitting motionless for 90 minutes), anxiously waiting for the results of said scan, and assuming all is well, getting my port removed the following week.

We brought two cartons of yummy cupcakes to chemo yesterday for the nurses and other staff to celebrate. I was complaining about increased shortness of breath recently so they decided to hold back one of the 4 drugs (bleomycin, the “B” in “ABVD”) for the final treatment. Bleo causes lung damage in many patients, and is the least important of the 4 ABVD drugs as far as fighting cancer goes, so it seemed like a good decision.

Here are a couple photos from the final chemo. The first is of me, with the chemo infusion apparatus already connected to the port in my chest. The port area looks a little funny because they have the whole thing covered with clear tape to hold it in place. Below that photo is a refresher photo on what the port actually looks like, for those who didn’t see the post when I originally had it installed (it’s completely under the skin, and the long tube goes into the big subclavian vein which then shortly feeds into the heart), and a close-up of the needles they use to “access the port”.

I also grabbed a photo of the Adriamycin (the “A” in “ABVD”) being delivered by my nurse, Mary. It’s one of the three “push” drugs that get injected over a 10 minute period each. Then the last drug is a 90 minute drip from a big bag. The Adria is unusual because of its color… looks quite unnatural to have neon red injected into your body (we call it kool-aid). Oh, and it comes out the same color the next time you go to the bathroom, which can be a little bizzare!


  • on April 24, 2007 -
  • cancer
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  • Comments Off on Chemo update

Chemo update

I guess I should write about cancer/chemo once in a while… it’s become so routine that my blog has evolved into a more traditional journal, covering random goings-on.

Last Wednesday was #11, which means there’s only one treatment left (yeah!). #11 was the most efficient yet, and we were out of there just about 3 hours after arriving. The office was not nearly as crowded as the previous time. Side effects have gotten pretty predictable so there’s not much new to say &mdash run down/tired, no appetite, bad taste, etc. The only changes are that my peripheral neuropathy (numbness of extremities &mdash fingertips in my case) has gotten noticeably worse in the last month or two, and my shortness of breath is much worse during the first five days or so after chemo (normal activities tire me out, and I can’t take deep breaths). Fortunately, both should improve once I’m finished. Can’t wait for that!

I’ve got my second PET scan scheduled for the week after the final treatment. We met with my Oncologist last week and he says he fully expects it to come back clean. I’m also scheduling with my surgeon to get my chemo infusion port removed two weeks after the final treatment. That will be a day I’ll be looking forward to! The port is a constant annoyance (seat belts are the worst since they cross right over it &mdash very uncomfortable) and I can’t wait to get it out.

So, as things wrap up, expect to see more blog entries about yard work and vacations instead of cancer and chemo!


  • on April 5, 2007 -
  • cancer
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  • Comments Off on Cannot connect to port: Access denied

Cannot connect to port: Access denied

Had chemo #10 a day early (Tuesday) since my usual day was booked. Turns out Tuesday was overbooked already though, so all the chairs (16 or so) in the infusion room were taken. They put me and one other person into the SCT (stem cell transplant) room because they had the space there and an SCT nurse who wasn’t busy. Was hoping things would go really fast this time – one nurse for the two of us, vs. four nurses for the 16 patients in the main room – but that turned out not to be the case.

We could not get my infusion port to work yesterday. After “accessing the port” with the special needle/connector, they usually start with a saline and a heparin injection into the port, then “draw back” on the syringe to get a blood return from the artery, so they know the port is still in the artery. No matter what they did, they couldn’t get any blood return. They had me in all sorts of weird positions, arms over head, leaning forward, lying in a bed, twisting in different directions, but nothing worked. We went through several more salines, heparins, and even de-accessed and re-accessed the port, but no luck. They can’t proceed with the chemo unless they’re 100% sure that the port is still connected to the subclavial artery, since if the chemo drugs leak into the rest of the body they will do major damage to the tissues.

In the end, they had to order TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) from the pharmacy and inject that into the port… it’s a high-power clot buster used during heart attacks or strokes. Once they got the delivery, they injected it into the port (just a couple milliliters), waited 15 minutes, and then everything started working just fine! Unfortunately, we wasted at least an hour dealing with all that.

The rest of the treatment was pretty straightforward… now to deal with side effects for the next 5 days or so and then only 2 more treatments left!! Then I get to go for regular PET/CT scans for a few years to be sure all the cancer’s gone and doesn’t return.



Change of pace

Most everyone who reads my blog probably knows this by now, but I’m now officially unemployed! It was a difficult decision, but I decided it was time to move on from the only post-college job I’ve known, after nearly 12 years. Kathie is leaving too, and we plan to spend the spring, summer, and fall relaxing, recuperating, traveling, visiting old friends, etc. Perhaps it’s a cancer-prompted “life’s too short to spend it all working” moment, perhaps not. Either way, we’re fortunate to be able to do something like this, so rather than be our typical wishy-washy selves (“what do you think? I dunno, what do you think?”) we’re plunging ahead! I’m quite confident that we’ll both be able to get good jobs again in 9-12 months when we’re done with our hiatus, and we have COBRA insurance coverage for 18 months, so there’s little downside, and lots of opportunity for taking a new direction in life! Now to just get through the final three rounds of chemo and I’m home free!


  • on March 22, 2007 -
  • cancer
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  • Comments Off on Love potion #9

Love potion #9

Oh wait, that wasn’t love, that was poison! So, chemo #9 is a day behind me now, but what a long day it was. Pretty much everything went slower than usual. My appointment was at 9:30am, and usually the infusion room is only half full that early, but I ended up getting the next to last seat (out of around 14 seats). Still, I didn’t get any IV drugs until around 11am, and that was just my pre-meds (anti-nausea, etc.) so we didn’t get out until after 2pm. There’s only 3 or 4 chemo nurses so they’re constantly running from patient to patient changing meds, doing interviews, going to the pharmacy to pick up meds, resetting IV pumps, etc. They’re tireless in their efforts, but are fighting a losing battle. Also, two of the IV pumps were broken, so they had to fight over the remaining ones. It was kind of like when the parking lot is full and everyone’s stalking the people walking to their cars, hoping to get their spot, except in this case it’s watching which IV drip is almost empty, and hovering at that pump to grab it when it’s done. I crashed extra hard after chemo, this one made me really sleepy. Today I’m feeling “slow motiony” (not a word, but it’s exactly how I feel), just generally groggy and tired, and with no appetite. The good news is, after the side effects from this time wear off, only 3 more to go!