Thursday, May 14, 2009

What's Up With the Doc 56? - A Better Week

Thank you all so much for lifting me up last week. I was definitely demoralized and out of gas and all the support helped fill the tank up again.

I saw my oncologist on Friday for Zometa. Still waiting for the genetic testing results from Dana-Farber. There is no HER2 mutation but EML4-ALK FISH results are pending as is the BRAF mutation test. The new neck pain hasn't really been a problem since early last week. I'm still having various aches and pains related to bony metastases - neck, back and left hip, mostly, but all tolerable with 400 mg Ibuprofen twice a day. The oncologist has no idea what the itchy skin lesions are but they seem to be improving with hydrocortisone cream. My counts last week were fine - red cell numbers are as good as they've been since I was diagnosed. My vitals were great - while on treatment I tend to run a heartrate in the low 100s and it was back down to the 70s on Friday. He was fine with not doing anything treatment-wise until after a scan (scheduled for 5/28 instead of 5/26 because Robert's got an EGD scheduled on the 26th) so I'll see him on June 2nd and we'll go from there depending what Dana-Farber comes up with.

For the last few days I've been having weird, mostly fleeting abdominal pains. Some are in the right upper quadrant (where the liver lives), some in the right lower quadrant (where I no longer have an appendix). I called my chemo nurse Tuesday to see if they had drawn chemistries on Friday because I worry about my liver. All chemistries (with the exception of alkaline phosphatase, which is minimally elevated -- probably because of all those bone metastases) are completely normal. My liver function tests are better than they were 4 months BEFORE I was diagnosed. I told her I was frustrated by the continuing weakness and she asked if I was eating and drinking normally. I told her that I was and that I wondered if the radiation therapy I finished last Monday might be contributing. She sighed and told me that she was pretty sure that that was THE cause of the weakness. She said people tend to get more wiped out by radiation therapy than chemotherapy and that I should rest when I feel like resting and that my strength will come back over the next few weeks. When I think back to my radiation therapy experience in December I realize that it's difficult to draw parallels because I had that awful radiation pharyngitis/esophagitis along with the fatigue and weakness and started chemotherapy before I had even recovered from that. So I'm grateful for this treatment break that will hopefully give me time to recover from all the treatments that have assailed my reserve over the last 14 months.

Bottom line - I'm hopeful that I will have the opportunity to get the bounce back in my step over the next few weeks. All objective information says that mild bone pain is the only specific symptom being caused by the cancer itself - off treatment my appetite is good, weight is stable (5 pounds over what I weighed at diagnosis) vital signs and labs normal and no fever. The abdominal pain? Much better yesterday after a laxative Tuesday night so probably proof positive that I am (or was) full of s**t.

So! I leave tomorrow for Colorado and Emma's graduation. Emma arrives for the summer at the end of May. My best childhood friend is visiting mid-June and my mother is coming back for my 51st birthday after that. Robert and I are planning to attend Ian's white coat ceremony. If that is at UT San Antonio it will be July 26th and we will spend the following week in Texas visiting. He is still waiting to hear from UT Southwestern and Oregon. If he winds up going to UT Southwestern the white coat ceremony will be in mid-August and we'd move the entire Texas trip to coincide. If he winds up going to Oregon we'll do the Texas trip as previously planned and head to Portland for a brief visit for the ceremony itself.

Typing all of this reminds me that I didn't expect to make it to Emma's graduation, much less Ian's white coat ceremony, and here I am. I am so very grateful to be here and well enough to attend and enjoy these events. Next up on the wish list are Hannah's senior volleyball season and Robert's Medicare eligibility birthday.

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