Serious Chemo Begins
published: Feb 24, 2018 | last modified: Feb 24, 2018
estimated reading time 3 minutes

Completed surgical and chemo consults last week. March 2nd I begin “adult” chemo.

Last week Julie and I met with Dr. Lu, my primary surgeon. Everything is looking good with the surgery, and he explained that the pathology report from the pieces-parts he removed was excellent. The radiation and chemo I previously underwent did a great job of reducing the main tumor from a stage 3 to a stage 2, and there was no evidence of cancer found in the 20+ lymph nodes he removed.

Dr. Lu also explained a bit about the upcoming chemotherapy. He referred to the chemo I had undergone previously as “child” chemo — it did what it was supposed to do (and quite well), but was not the big guns. This next bout of chemo is “adult” chemo and should blast away any cancer remaining that can not be detected.

The next day Julie and I met with Dr. Andreason, my oncology doctor. She went into detail on what the future holds. After meeting with her and also a specialist in the oncology department, I am scheduled to have a port installed on the morning of March 2nd, and my first chemo treatment that afternoon.

You may recall during radiation I underwent chemotherapy through a PICC line. Near the end of the treatment, the PICC site and surrounding area on my arm were having a bad reaction, we believe because of the mesh used to hold all the tubing and stuff together. No PICC this time. Instead, they will be installing a port. The same concept — provide a direct line to an entrance valve of the heart so anything fed through the line begins immediate dispersal throughout the body on the next heartbeat. The difference is this is somewhat permanent — no tubing or daily flushes. The port lives under my skin, so showers are not an issue, and the skin provides a primary barrier against infection.

After receiving a “bulk” infusion over a few hours, I will get a pump (reminiscent of Carina (last video on the page)) to continue infusing a lower dose over the 46 hours following the main infusion. And I will be repeating this every two weeks for the next six months if my body is able to handle the poisons they will be pumping into me.

Side effects were explained to generally the same ones I might have experienced with the “child” chemo — nausea, mouth sores, diarrhea, fatigue. Though they had mentioned it as a possibility in the previous chemo, everyone we talked to emphasized the real possibility of nerve damage during this round of chemo.

Experienced as a tingling in my fingertips and toes, if left unchecked, can spread up the arms and legs, and eventually result in the nerves dying — i.e. permanent nerve damage. As such, if I am feeling any tingling I am to inform the oncology department immediately, and they will either adjust the next dose or remove that part of the cocktail causing it. It is hoped, because I am pretty healthy, that I will be able to complete at least most of the treatment without this side effect in order to get the maximum benefit of the chemotherapy.

I’m not super comfortable with the port thing, but it is a hell of a lot better than the PICC.

Port Accessed in Chemo Suite

PS It was emphasized during our visit that the liver spots are still there — therefore not cancer (the chemo had no effect on them).

This is a post in the "path to cancer free" series.
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series:  path to cancer free