Chemo Pump Is Out, Side Effects Are In

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I got the chemo pump removed this afternoon and I have to say that it will be great to not have to lug it around with me every where I go. I am also glad that the first cycle is done and I didn’t have any real complications from it.

That said, I am definitely seeing a rise in the side effects. For the second day in a row, I have had to take anti-nausea medicine after eating around lunch time. I can’t drink anything that is even a little cold or my throat hurts from the cold sensitivity. I also found that I cannot hold anything cold or even wash my hands in anything less than warm water. So far my hair is intact, though that was never a big concern for me anyway.

Hopefully this is the worst of it, but I kind of doubt it, from everything that I have read and been told. But I’m not going to let it wreck my Thanksgiving, and I am going to fight my way through it and enjoy some good quality family time. Our oldest daughter, Susan, is cooking and having everyone over to their new house for dinner tonight, since her fiance, Zach, is working tomorrow. And tomorrow our oldest son, Mark, and his girlfriend, Michelle, are cooking and having everyone over to their house for dinner.

So I will not let this keep me down, especially since this year I not only don’t need to cook, but I’m getting TWO dinners out of it for free!

Categories: Cancer

Chemo is “Pumping” Me Up!

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I have left the doctor office and received my bolus infusion of FOLFOX and am now carrying a man purse satchel with another 48 hours of FOLFOX in the pump to go. So far, I haven’t had any nausea, which honestly scared me the most with my back issues, however I have already had the metallic taste in my mouth and also felt the cold sensitivity in my throat when drinking ice cold water. For the time being I have switched to room temperature water and have not had a repeat of that lovely side effect.

But, overall, things are going pretty good. At this point I am still planning to get out of work about 5:00 and head home so Tina and I can still make the concert tonight. Though I think I’ll be taking a dose of Compazine before I go, just to make sure I don’t get nauseous while at the concert.

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers! Believe me, it has helped me tremendously!

Categories: Cancer

Today is C Day

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The day has finally arrived, though in truth it has been a short wait of just over five weeks since my diagnosis, for me to start chemo. At 10:30 am I am going to Dr. Phinney’s office, where they have an in-office infusion center, to get my first FOLFOX treatment. I am nervous, scared, and at the same time excited and happy. So yeah, my emotions are all over the place.

Hopefully, everything that I have read and heard is true and the side effects don’t kick in for a day or two, because I plan to go back to work afterward. Well, that and I have tickets for Tina and me to see the Shinedown and Five Finger Death Punch concert tonight at the Huntington Center tongiht at 6:00 pm. With all that is going on in our lives, a concert with some good, heavy rock would do wonders for us as a mini escape from the “cancer thing.”

I am so grateful that God has put so many good, strong people in my life to help me through this! Between my family, church family, friends and coworkers, I definitely don’t feel like I am attacking this alone 🙂

Categories: Cancer

No Sleep for Me

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I was tired from working all day so I came home and was asleep by 9:00. I slept pretty good, though I forgot to take my pain medication and woke up abruptly at 3:00 with my shoulder killing me. The port placement has made my shoulder and neck on that side very sore, much more so than I expected. I guess I’ll have to admit to myself that I am getting older and my body just doesn’t heal the way it used to.

So I watched a movie and ate some chicken pot pie from Costco and gave the meds some time to kick in. Unfortunately I am stuck awake because I have to take our oldest cat, Amelia, to the vet this morning at 8:20. We think she has a cold because she is staying away from all of the other cats and sneezing like crazy. But, after that, it will most certainly be a nap day for me.

Categories: Cancer

Surgery is Scheduled!

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I heard back from the second surgeon, Dr. Palakodeti, and met with him this afternoon. He’s a really nice doctor and has a great sense of humor, which put me at ease a little more about the procedure. I am confirmed for outpatient surgery on this Thursday at 7:30 AM to get my chemo port placed! I am so grateful for the doctor’s office working me in on such short notice and for all the support of my family and friends.

I am so ready to get this port in and to start chemo next week. It’s a new endeavor and one that carries a lot of potential side effects, but the possible good is far outweighing the possible negatives in my mind right now. Let’s get this fight going and see if we can’t kick this cancer’s butt!

Categories: Cancer

Feeling Better and Surgery is Soon!

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So after feeling pretty lousy all day Saturday, I ended up switching from Mucinex DM to Delsym cough syrup. The former helps to break up the mucus and help you get it out, while the latter helps to quiet the cough. Since my cough was nagging but unproductive, switching made sense, and it has helped tremendously.

Sunday I felt much better and enjoyed a nice service at NorthPoint Church, as well as a quick trip to the grocery store and getting a few things done around the house. Monday I felt even better and worked all day. Then I did one of my favorite things and spent the evening with my beautiful bride, Tina.

On the cancer front, I have been scheduled with my surgeon for outpatient surgery to place the chemo port on Monday, November 21st. Unfortunately, with Thanksgiving being that same week, I would have to wait another week for my first cycle of chemo. This would also cause me to go three weeks between cycles, instead of two weeks, at the time of Christmas. Not really what I wanted to hear.

So I called my oncologist and they were able to get me a consultation with another surgeon today at 3:30. While they have not confirmed it yet, they don’t think it will be a problem for me to have the surgery this week, so that I can recover over the weekend at home and still start my chemo next Monday, the 21st. I should know the date the new surgeon can get me in for the procedure later today.

I’m excited to get it started, although will admit that I am a little apprehensive about the chemo port. I’m not really sure why, I just am. But hey, what other choice do I have, besides laying down and waiting for the inevitable. And that isn’t who I am, not even a little bit.

Categories: Cancer

Having a Blah Saturday

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I woke up this morning coughing like crazy, so much so I almost vomited. Tina listened to my chest when she got home and said I sounded clear so hopefully the bronchitis I just got over isn’t coming back, because it would delay my outpatient surgery to get the chemo port put in.

I went downstairs to watch some TV and fell back asleep, only to be awakened with an upset stomach. After spending quite a bit of time in the bathroom I feel better but am still very tired. I’m back to watching TV and kind of dozing on and off.

Originally I was planning on having some people over to watch the UFC PPV tonight, but think instead I’m just going to go to bed early. I’m way too tired, not feeling all that good and could use the rest. I might change my mind at the last minute but I highly doubt it.

I’m just really hoping that I’m not getting sick again. The last thing I want to do is put the chemo treatments off any longer than necessary. I want to kick this cancer in the butt and get on with the rest of my life.

Categories: Cancer

The Next Steps

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Today I met with Dr. Phinney, my oncologist from the Toledo Clinic Cancer Centers, and got the scoop on what we are going to do and the time frame for it. It’s a lot of information, so I am just going to list it out, in the order that it will (likely) happen:

  • I am waiting for Dr. Bosio, my general surgeon who removed the tumor, to schedule my outpatient surgery. During the surgery he will insert a chemo pump into my chest. More information on the pump can be found here.
  • Dr. Phinney has already ordered the chemo and other drugs, which automatically started the pre-certification for the insurance company.
  • Once the insurance pre-certification is approved, Dr. Phinney’s office will call me to schedule for me to come into their office for “Chemo Teach,” a 45-60 minute one on one class with a Nurse Practitioner in his office to discuss the chemo treatments, possible side effects, etc.
  • During Chemo Teach I will also be given prescriptions for anti-nausea medicine, and other needed medications. I will also be scheduled for my first cycle of chemo at this time.
  • I have been referred to a doctor at Flower Hospital for genetic counseling, which will help determine what kind of risks my children have of getting cancer.
  • A test on the tumor has already been ordered to determine if my tumor has a specific genetic makeup that may allow for the use of a specific biological that will help the chemo to bond to my remaining tumors/lesions.

Dr. Phinney said that he thinks it won’t be a problem for me to get into their office, with the chemo port already inserted, for my first treatment prior to Thanksgiving.

He also said that I will be doing each chemo cycle over the course of three days. The first day I will get a bolus dose, in their office’s infusion center, through the chemo port. This will take about 4 hours. They will then hook up a chemo pump to my port and I will be able to go home with the pump, which will administer the chemo over the course of two days. The chemo pump is placed in a small man-purse satchel that I will carry with me. On the third day I will go back to their office to have the pump removed from my chemo port.

Dr. Phinney said that I can absolutely work during the time that I have the pump, and he recommends that I try doing so. He also said that I should try to live life normally, including going out to dinner, to the movies, etc.

I am excited to start the process and am just waiting to hear back from Dr. Bosio on when we can do the outpatient surgery. Today, at least for now, I have a lot of hope and am feeling a lot better about this whole cancer thing!

Categories: Cancer

Feeling Drained and Scatter Brained

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Everything that has happened so far has been nothing short of a miracle. Getting in to the doctors offices, getting all the tests done and getting their results, having the surgery and it being successful, and such a rapid and full recovery has been a blessing. So don’t get me wrong, I am grateful.

But the past two days, I have been very anxious about my appointment with the oncologist on Thursday. It’s not like I don’t know that I am going to start chemo, but there is so much I don’t know. Which type of chemo, what delivery method, when is it going to begin, how long will I need to have it,  which of the multitude of side effects are going to effect me, will I be able to work while going through the treatments, how much is it going to cost, etc.

I am tired all the time and even after getting almost 10 hours of sleep last night, I am exhausted now. I am having a real hard time keeping my concentration on work, family, or anything else. I know that I can’t change anything until I find out Thursday, but that doesn’t stop my head from swimming in it. I just want to know how we are going to proceed and how it is going to affect me physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.

Categories: Cancer