Tuesday, September 19, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0301 - Penultimate Chemo Treatment Tomorrow

No serious discussions today. I just want to get the second last chemo treatment out of the way tomorrow, suffer the increasingly onerous side effects, get well enough for the last treatment, and then get on with the recovery phase.

Even though today's absolute neutrophil count was 1.4 and the minimum is 1.5, it is highly likely that it will be at least 1.5 tomorrow. Even if it isn't, my medical oncologist thinks I look well enough and am coping well enough to get these last two treatment cycles finished without further delay.

The fact is that I've gained weight (perhaps too much) and look reasonably well. But the side effects last far longer now, the fatigue is getting harder and harder to manage, and I'm starting to get facial flushing, a new side-effect.

Just when I'm really getting back into the swing of things at work, it looks like the next three weeks may have me working fewer hours and telecommuting more frequently. I know that's the nature of chemotherapy, but it truly is frustrating. On the other hand, 3 more weeks!

The medical oncologist also warned me to expect 4-6 months of continuing side effects, the worst of which will be fatigue and neuropathy. But they will be seeing me again in 3 months for a CT chest and abdominal scan, followed by blood work to check my CEA and a consultation with the oncologist.

The supportive care coordinator also spent another 10 minutes with me talking about recovery and the emotional upheaval I'll probably encounter. The cancer centre staff will still be available to me, especially social workers and occupational therapists, the former for coping skills and the latter to possibly help with pains and aches in my bottom as I work longer hours at the desk.

I am looking forward to seasonal celebrations again. By Christmas, I should be feeling substantially better, as long as I can hold the worries about recurrence at bay. Perhaps a social worker consultation would be useful!

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