Thursday, March 22, 2012

Locked, Loaded, and Life Goes On (Round 2, Week 1)

Each cycle of my chemo starts of in three steps - a morning at DFCI for various blood tests and to see the oncologist or nurse practitioner and their team and to receive the first of the four chemicals in the MVAC "cocktail".  That is the short day.  Yesterday was the longer day, just one appointment at Farber, but it is the appointment where they load in the spicy stuff.  That takes 4 - 6 hours, and pretty much knocked me out in round 1.  Today, day 3, I got a booster shot that is a key component of the trial.  It is meant to stimulate the growth of white blood cells.  The injection is administered at home, by our retired veterinarian and, not coincidentally, my mother in law's boyfriend.  He makes house calls.


I like the structure of the medical team - carefully selected cancer care professionals at two top academic medical centers and, also carefully selected, our retired veterinarian.   At this point, I know that my medical care is in good hands!


Based on round 1, the Team at Dana Farber gave me a lot of helpful feedback today/yesterday on dealing with the chemo.  A few things I learned:
  • if possible, they want me to try harder to stay more active during the 'chemo fog', that first five days.  They would rather that I not, again, lose 10 lbs in 5 days.   That said, I think that their bigger concern is the slippery slope from chemo fog/funk to depression.   They also mentioned that Taffy, who I took out for short (very short) walks on three of those days, might prefer 2 short walks/day :-).   
  • that was the clinicians talking.  There is also a therapist on the team.  He stopped by yesterday to visit during my longer treatment.  He was happy to hear about this blog, and had an even longer list than I initially had for why it is a good thing for me to write it.   
  • And, about that depression thing.  This is a very emotional time, probably a few decades of tears/emotion, some for joy, some not, compressed into a very short time.   Fran and my family have been with me each step, and I've been overwhelmed (in a good way) by the outreach, good wishes, and support from a lifetime of friends, and some strangers too.  All of that support, and concern, makes it that much easier for me to stay focused on where I plan to be at the end of this.  It keeps the sense of humor intact, get's me to the gym, helps with whatever the next step requires.  If you're reading this, you're part of my team....thank you!!
  • And, lest you wonder, I'll be sporting a different hair style in the next week.  What started slowly, a couple of days ago, is getting faster each day.
In the meantime, in wonderful ways, life goes on.  After dropping me off at Dana Farber, Benji left yesterday for six weeks of exploring the hills, valleys and beaches of South America, Adam is in Mexico, Sara is studying in Israel, and, starting tonight, Josh (who was in Israel a few months ago) is hosting an Israeli exchange student here in our home.  We've come a long way from day when the idea of a family adventure was packing the kids into Fran's mini-van or my Suburban, and heading out to see distant family, a national park, or to go camping or skiing.  
My immediate family awoke this morning in four countries, on three continents.  I look forward to everyone returning home, safely, with stories to tell and photos in hand.  I hope that my kids never lose the yearning to explore....and to return home! 



I know it is a day early, but I don't anticipate writing another post tomorrow.  So, Shabbat Shalom.  Enjoy a peaceful, healthy, relaxing Shabbat.



4 comments:

Vicki Brower said...

hey david, you sound good!
walk and pat that dog, lots of endorphins, and hug your wife!

what drugs are you getting, what's the trial? i write about cancer as it happens... so i'd love to know what you are being treated with bec. d-f is a top-notch place...

other than that, have a good shabbat and rest up!

best,

vicki

Barb Dunlap Chapman said...

David... your posts are wonderfully personal, instructional and heartwarming. Remember what I said about all that primal emotion? It's a GOOD thing... keep those thumbs clean and at the ready. The extra white cells should boost your immune system, and if or when you're ready to share your new "hairstyle"
with us on fb, I will share mine as well. These are precious days. No time to waste on anything but love and appreciation. You're sure a quick learner. And the fact that you have a veterinarian delivering one of your meds, well, that's just priceless. Good Job. Peace and love, dear one.

Faith said...

I love the part about having a vet as part of the team! Hang in there, and remember that you're never far from the top of our thoughts.

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