Mike's Lung Cancer Chronicle

Archive for July, 2012

Still Doing Well

I am in day 13 of my treatment and lucky for me I have experienced very few side-effects. I have ALL my hair (head-wise, nose-wise, ear-wise, and other-wise). The oncology nurse assures me that it often doesn’t fall out until 15 days after chemo starts. So, Tuesday is the target hair day; I’ll keep you (and my barber, Carl, posted).  I walk at least 2 miles every day, and I still take out the garbage (a sign I read that you are a survivor).  I have wacky taste buds, some reduced appetite and tiredness toward the end of the day.  Some foods that I previously liked now have either no taste or a funny taste. Salsa smells kind of bad and I can barely taste it. I blame the cilantro. But a BLT?  Bring it on!  They taste great!  Smells can get to me too. I walked by a CVS pharmacy and gagged when I caught a whiff of perfume. Now I understand why the Kaiser oncology department has signs posted telling people not not wear any fragrances in the chemo infusion area.  For the next two weeks it is radiation only, eating right, getting rest, continuing to exercise, and working at rebuilding my cells.  All in all, things are pretty good.

Have a great week everybody and thank you all for your prayers, cards, jokes, and support!


Chemo Is Going Well

I finished 5 days of chemo on Friday, July 20. Chemo-week started off with a  long 6 hour day and my first infusion of Cisplatin. Thanks to the wonders of medicine, I also received an infusion of Emend; a drug that does a great job of preventing nausea and vomiting: I haven’t experienced any at all since starting chemo and I am one happy camper about that. The other 4 days were short 2-hour sessions to receive an infusion of Etoposide.  Radiation started this week as well, on Wednesday.  This seems like a piece of cake compared to chemo, but the radiation bombardment continues for 5 weeks. Tomorrow, July 23, I finish up Cycle 1 of Chemo with another 6 hour day of Cisplatin, then I am “off” to “percolate” for about 3 weeks while these toxic chemicals work their magic. So far, I am feeling OK. My appetite is good and I am walking 2 miles or more everyday.  I feel a bit more tired toward the end of the day, but overall, pretty good. The medical team claims that side effects are cumulative so they may kick in over the next week or two. But, hey, in the mean time — so far, so good.

P.S.  I still have ALL of my hair, including those pesky ones.  Donna, one of my chemo nurses, has advised me of a basic principle of chemotherapy, that is: you only lose the hair you want to keep.  I think the nose hairs are here to stay.

Will I say good-bye to those pesky nose hairs?

I start chemotherapy tomorrow. I will begin a  regimen of being infused with two over-the-top nasty drugs: cisplatin and etoposide. Cisplatin was first described by an Italian chemist Michelle Peyrone in 1845. Then  known as Peyrone’s salt, today it is sometimes referred to as the “penicillin of cancer.”  Wow! Who knew? I thought I would be given some leading edge chemical just discovered in the past 10-15 years!  The more mundane drug, Etoposide is derived from a toxin found in the American Mayapple.  Both drugs will be attacking fast growing cells like, er… cancer cells.  Unfortunately these drugs aren’t smart enough to know the difference between the bad guys and the good guys. So, unless I am very lucky, they are very likely going to kill my fast growing hair follicles, as well. So I am going to maintain a positive attitude and hope that only cancer cells  and those pesky little nose hairs will be destroyed.

Advanced case of fuzzy nose syndrome.

How Do You Like My Tattoo?

Today I had CT Scan mapping in order to get me all set-up to be bombarded by radiation. In order to limit the deaths of surrounding civilians, and ensure the bombing focuses primarily on the bad guys, tattoos are used to help ensure the radiation hits the same spots every time.  “Wow!”  I thought. “This is cool! A tattoo!”  So, I asked the technician if she could do this one for me:

Hey Sailor, gonna be in port long?

She said, “I really don’t think that would be appropriate.  All we need are some tiny blue dots.”  So I said, “But can’t you  just aim for her navel? Or maybe the star on her left…lung?” “Sorry sailor,” she said, “three wee blue dots only. Doktor’s orders!”

Bombing commences on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 1400 hours.

The “Young and Healthy” Plan (ha, ha)

It turns out that the lymph nodes in and/or around my left lung are positive for cancer.  Not so great.  But, my doctors (aka a growing medical team) label me “young and in good health.”  Therefore, I am a candidate for the whole kit and kaboodle: chemo, radiation, and surgery.  As surgery can zap your strength and immune system, the approach in this case will be to first hit the cancer with a 1-2 punch of concurrent chemo and radiation treatment (6 weeks), followed up 4 to 6 weeks later with surgery to remove a lobe in my left lung.  I am told that because I am “young and healthy” I can expect to recover well from the surgery.

Up Next: A visit with the Radiation Oncologist.