Monday, June 12, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0201 - Ready for Stage Three

My health is improving.

Even though my surgeon would still like to see the number of bowel movements decrease (as would I), he has approved proceeding with chemotherapy. So, this week I will be getting my PICC line in place for the next 4 months and will have my first infusion of 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, and oxaliplatin . By next weekend, I should have first-hand experience of any side effects to be expected with my new regimen.

Today (Monday), I met with yet another medical oncologist for an assessment before beginning chemotherapy. For me it was another exercise in rehearsing my treatment story for someone unfamiliar with the details. It was also exposure to yet another "bedside" manner from both the oncologist and the nurse.

Unfortunately, neither one left me feeling particularly enthusiastic about the course of chemotherapy. Because I am well beyond the recommended 6 weeks from surgery to commencement of chemotherapy, the oncologist informed me that there is statistically little to recommend taking the therapy at all. If I had started "on time", the therapy's influence on a cure would only have been 10-15% anyway, but since I am beyond 10 weeks, we should realistically cut even that low rate in half.

Naturally, I asked whether it is even worthwhile to bother since the costs of treatment seem to outweigh the potential benefit. Since the course of therapy was recommended by another oncologist, the "substitute" oncologist suggested that we should go ahead, despite the statistically low rate of return.

Then, after the oncologist had left, the nurse decided to tell me that patients who have experienced gastrointestinal tract cancers should really think of their disease as chronic. In other words, I guess, don't expect a once-and-for-all cure! Why tell me something like that just before I'm about to embark on a course of chemotherapy? Beats me!

Still, I shall continue. Tuesday, I get my PICC line inserted. Wednesday, we start treatment. Four months later, I'm done therapy. That will leave me about 2 months before I celebrate the 1st anniversary of the diagnosis.

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