26 March 2008


My least favourite part of town

Chemo floor quickie panoramaThere are some pretty views from the Fairview neighbourhood of Vancouver, but it is now officially my least favourite part of the city. It's objectively far nicer than many other parts of this region, but that doesn't matter.

Part of my dislike comes from a job I had there back in the '90s. There was no backbreaking physical work or relentless tedium (I encountered those in earlier jobs, installing alarms and working night shift at a gas station, respectively), but it was still the worst position I've ever held, because the psychological environment of the place was positively poisonous. I would take the longest lunch hours I could, sometimes walking down to False Creek and sitting on a grassy knoll, just staring into the distance eating while trying to purge the stress from my system.

I quit after nine months, during which numerous coworkers had come and gone, some quitting after one day and others (including the person who hired me, who'd been with the company since it was founded) being summarily fired for often arbitrary reasons. I'm amazed I stayed so long.

But that's not the main reason. It's because Fairview is also home to the B.C. Cancer Agency, where I spend far too much time these days. Counterintuitively, the people there, from volunteers to doctors to nurses to technicians, are overwhelmingly wonderful, friendly, helpful, and understanding. The building is nicely decorated for a medical facility. It runs like clockwork—I've never had so many appointments with such complex interrelationships run so smoothly and on time, or been apologized to so profusely when things run late or get postponed.

And yet, it is the Cancer Agency, where I have gone for CT scans and radiation treatments and chemotherapy and emergency prescriptions of blood thinner injections. It's where my doctors told me that my cancer had spread to my lungs. True, Fairview is not where I spent the worst days of my life, late last July when I had lost 50 pounds, was hooked up to two IV poles in a ward at St. Paul's hospital, and could only lie in bed—not bathe, walk, eat, or even drink—for several days.

Yet somehow Vancouver's downtown West End, where those worst days did happen, still holds too many other happy memories, of fireworks and new love with my wife, and childhood walks in the park with my grandmother. Fairview is where I'm reminded, all the time, of how broken my body still is. Even driving through it on my way elsewhere, I feel queasy, my subconscious focusing on the nauseating chemical soup of chemo I get there every two weeks. Tomorrow is the next infusion.

Sorry, Fairview. I can't help it. You suck.

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04 March 2008



Many months ago I said, about my cancer treatment, that I'm not brave, even though people say it. Bravery is facing danger head-on when you have other choices. Here have been my choices over the past year and a bit:

  1. Potentially life-saving small surgery? Yes or no?
  2. Potentially life-saving two-month radiation treatment? Yes or no?
  3. Potentially life-saving early two-month chemotherapy? Yes or no?
  4. Potentially life-saving large surgery? Yes or no?
  5. Potentially life-saving late six-month chemotherapy? Yes or no?

The basic choice has been: Treatment or death? Yes or no?

That's a pretty easy decision.

My real choices have been pretty small, and the choice to blog (and appear on the radio) about all this stuff was also an easy one, because this was the question: Write about my cancer like I write about everything else, and keep the information flowing? Or live two lives, and try to remember whom I've told and whom I should be hiding stuff from every single damn day?

Why would I choose to keep it private? Given who I am, how could I possibly do that and stay focused?

I said in that radio interview and elsewhere that, as far as relating to other people goes, cancer is an easy disease. People don't judge me for it. (Perhaps if it wasn't colorectal cancer, but lung cancer from smoking or liver cancer from drinking, some people might judge me. But even so, cancer is no longer "the C word.") They're sympathetic, and cut me a lot of slack.

What takes some bravery is what fellow Vancouver blogger Corinna is doing at her site Gus Greeper: writing in painful, wrenching detail about her depression, anxiety, and therapy. And her trip to the hospital yesterday after she downed a handful of pills and some wine.

Depression and other mental illnesses still have a big stigma. They shouldn't. For someone who has never experienced them, like me, they are tremendously difficult to understand, but that doesn't make them less real. And let me tell you, until you've been close to or had cancer yourself, you don't understand it either.

Stay brave, Corinna. It's worth the fight.

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26 June 2007


Dead man walking?

Cancer Treatment: Day 147 at Flickr.comI now know why I was getting those mixed messages yesterday. Today, Dr. Kennecke, my oncologist at the B.C. Cancer Agency, told me that he looked at my CT scan results from last week, and:

  1. Despite the chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the cancer in my rectum has grown, not shrunk.
  2. The spots in my lungs were not artifacts, but multiple further tiny tumours, showing that my cancer has metastasized (i.e. spread beyond its site of origin).
  3. I therefore now officially have stage 4 metastatic colorectal cancer.
  4. The surgeons are going to perform my operation as soon as possible, maybe next week.
  5. I will have followup chemotherapy after that to try to address the lung metastases ("mets").
  6. The median survival rate for people in my situation is two years. If the doctors can successfully remove the rectal tumour and address the lung mets, my chances of surviving five years are somewhere under 30%.

To boil it down: my cancer has grown and spread. My goals now are to see the Winter Olympics come to Vancouver in 2010, and beyond that to renew my driver's license when it expires again in five years. But while my medical team and I will do everything to try to make that happen, there is a significant chance I might not live that long, that I might be dead before five years are up.

It's a heavy day. I have cried, and laughed, and shared a drink and nachos with my friend Simon, and hugged my wife and my children and my parents. And I will fight on. It's a fine line between acknowledging and accepting what could happen and denying it. I'm naturally an optimistic guy, but I can't pretend that everything will be just fine, because it already isn't. The future, even the near future, is a mystery, and I must walk into it.

Fuck you again, cancer. Even if you win in the end.

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23 June 2007


Saving Tod Maffin's bacon via cross-country tech support

Saving Tod Maffin's bacon via cross-country tech support: live! at Flickr.comBecause I'm still recovering from all the radiation and chemotherapy and such, I can't attend the Podcasters Across Borders conference in Kingston, Ontario this weekend.

However, I was able to provide cross-country phone tech support to get Tod Maffin out of a bind when his Mac Finder kept repeatedly crashing right before his 8 p.m. (EDT) presentation. We even delved into some Unix permissions wizardry for good measure.

Good luck Tod!

And yes, I'm feeling better today, so I think it's okay if I gloat a little.

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22 June 2007



On bad days, like today, I feel like nothing but a generator. The only things I generate are pain and shit, and I pour them into the world—as if the world needs more!—spending the rest of my time sleeping, and eating when I can, and in today's case intermittently reading a book while lying cramped up in bed.

It doesn't seem fair. Yesterday was a great day, when I played drums with the band for the first time in six months, and had a wonderful time, and went to bed feeling good. But then today I was a total wreck, unable even to unpack my snare drum from the car, or read my email, or open the mail, or answer the phone. Or maybe that is fair: good day, bad day. But fairness is a human concept, and a disease like my cancer knows nothing of it.

I hope tomorrow is better. It almost has to be.

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19 June 2007


So how'd we do?

CT Scan Machine at Flickr.comI just had a CT scan at the Cancer Agency (I'm blogging this from one of their public computers).

My doctors will look at it to see how much my cancer has shrunk since we hit it with radiation and chemotherapy starting in April, and use the results to plan my surgery on July 26, as well as any followup chemo in the autumn. I'm supposed to get a copy of the data CD so I can look at the scan myself using some free software that can open DICOM files, but apparently that has to wait until my oncologist Dr. Kennecke looks at it next week.

That means I have to wait, which will be frustrating. So right now I'm going to the post office, and to buy some bagels.

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15 June 2007


I'm an idiot

This morning, after dropping the kids off at school, I did what I've been dreading all week. I cleared out my bowels in preparation for a rectal ultrasound exam at 11:15 at St. Paul's Hospital. That meant that I gave myself a chemical enema from the drugstore that, well, flushed out my system.

I've done it before a couple of times, and that wasn't too bad. But this time was while I'm still having radiation side effects. Everything's very sensitive and inflamed in there. It was excruciating. I was in the bathroom for an hour, either on the toilet or in the bathtub or on the floor—at least when I wasn't marching around our house trying to promote some additional movement in my intestines, and snapping at my wife not to talk to me because I was in so much pain. Awful.

And then we got down to the Ultrasound clinic (the half hour car ride sure was fun) and discovered I had written down the date wrong. I was supposed to be there two days ago—I'd mistranscribed it as the 15th instead of the 13th. We had to reschedule to June 27, when I get to do it all again!

Nothing like torturing yourself for no reason at all, I always say.

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12 June 2007


Radiation side effects last a long time

I called Alison, the friendly radiotherapy support nurse at the B.C. Cancer Agency, today because it's been three weeks since my last radiation treatment, and I'm still on a slow pendulum between painful, aching constipation and painful, gassy cramps and diarrhea. It takes three to four days to go between extremes. The days in the middle of pendulum (like yesterday, or last Thursday) can be pretty good, but the others (like today, or last Saturday) are far from it.

As I suspected—and unfortunately—it's nothing unusual as far as radiation side effects go. My internal tissues are inflamed, and they take a long time to calm down. The radiation is still taking effect and killing cancer cells. So feeling like crap three weeks later is par for the course, and the summary is that I just have to ride it out. I spent the four hours between when my family got home and the kids' bedtime either lying in bed or in sitting the bathroom. I was no help to my wife at all. Luckily I was able to help put the girls to sleep at least.

I'm supposed to make a guest appearance on The Lab With Leo tomorrow. Things are improving somewhat right now, but I hope they improve enough that I can get myself the hell out of the house to get down there.

I hate this. Hate it.

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07 June 2007


Sometimes I lie

I'll let you in on a secret: sometimes I fake it here. For example, this post from Tuesday, June 5, a couple of days ago, really went up yesterday, and I backdated it just to keep the date flow going on the website. On Tuesday I was way too sick to blog, or do anything else. I was in the bathroom every half hour for 12 hours, starting at 4 a.m., and things didn't really calm down until late at night. In between I did nothing but sleep. Even yesterday I was pretty wiped out.

The Cancer Agency folks did warn me that the radiation effects (PDF) could even get worse for a couple of weeks after the end of treatment. I don't think I quite believed them, but there you go.

What it does tell you is that this blog does reflect what's going on in my life, but not entirely. Sometimes I lie, and things here look better than they are. But today was a good day, honest!

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05 June 2007


Here's how to help me out

Last year when Gillian and her Team Thunderpants entered the Underwear Affair, a charity run for "cancers below the waist," I thought it was a cool idea and an interesting opportunity for people of all sorts to parade around in their skivvies. But it wasn't anything I gave much thought to, nor did I donate.

This year, of course, I have one hell of a cancer below the west. So Gillian's run this year is a lot more personal.

Since I found out I had cancer at the beginning of this year, many people have asked me if there's anything they could do. Here's something: donate this year to help raise money that might find a cure, or develop better treatments, or reduce how fucking much it hurts sometimes to have this disease.

And, just in case Gillian's boss does more Google searching (for, say, an editor in Vancouver), I'll avoid posting photos of her in her underwear as Darren did.

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01 June 2007


Paying the price

Sting 02I'm obviously still suffering radiation side effects fairly strongly. After the Police concert a couple of nights ago, I spent the whole day yesterday in bed, with a slight fever, unable to do much of anything at all. I'm feeling a bit better this morning.

It was worth it, because I had a great time at the show. I even liked that the band messed up quite a bit—missing cues, restarting songs, not quite reading each other's body language right. Most people in the audience surely didn't notice, but as a musician I did (and so did Stewart Copeland—here's his blog post about it), and that made the show more honest and fun and intimate for me.

In a time of prefab Disney-Nickelodeon pop stars singing through pitch-correcting software, with rigorously choreographed concerts, a stage full of backup dancers, songs sequenced and processed to death, and exactly the same set list and timing night after night, it was refreshing to see three guys play an actual rock show with their own instruments. On several occasions, Sting bypassed a chorus and moved into a second verse, and the other two had to switch gears quickly to catch up. And while he was in strong voice, I also noticed a couple of times when he hit a particularly high note and looked surprised at himself that he managed it.

There were a few subtle nods to modernity: the backing track for "Walking in Your Footsteps" was a synthesizer sequence, and some of Copeland's and Andy Summers's background vocals were artifically harmonized. But again, only real musical tech-heads would notice that it sounded like several people were singing backgrounds when only one was. And for most songs, what you heard was what they played, mistakes and all.

I also liked that they roamed all over their catalogue of songs, from the big hits ("Every Breath You Take," "Roxanne," "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic") to somewhat obscure album tracks ("Reggatta de Blanc," "The Bed's Too Big Without You"). Often the less-famous songs turned out better, I think. They played the first track on their first album, "Next To You" (with genuine fire, I might add, as their ending encore), and the last track from their final disc, "Murder By Numbers" (which turned out very topical).

Even if the band didn't think so, it was just the kind of concert I wanted to see. I hope they don't get too perfect for the rest of you who will see them throughout the tour.

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27 May 2007


I'm not brave

People hear that I have cancer and I've had chemo and radiation and am going to have surgery. They read this blog, where I talk about it all, which is something a lot of other cancer patients wouldn't do. They say, "You're so brave."

That's bullshit. I'm not brave. I have a disease, and with my doctors and my family, I'm fighting it. I hope to rid my body of it. I blog about it because I compulsively blog about everything. But the treatment is painful and exhausting, it is stressful, it makes me afraid. At the worst of it, I have retreated into a cranky, withdrawn, barely-there husk of myself, essentially forgetting everything from Mother's Day to the laundry piling up. The way I approach each day comes not from bravery, but from necessity, and sometimes desperation.

The real brave ones—the people in my life who have gone above and beyond the call of duty—are my family, including my daughters, and especially my wife. While I can occasionally manage to take the kids to school or help put them to bed, and maybe empty the dishwasher now and then, she has had to take over pretty much everything in our household.

She's shuttled me to the Cancer Agency almost every day. She puts up with me when I'm lying in bed moaning, or trapped in the bathroom for an hour, or when I can't even muster the motivation to give her a hug, or when I use up all the hot water trying to soothe my abdomen. She keeps the girls fed and clothed and clean and happy. She takes time for herself and talks to her friends and continues with her podcast.

You want brave? She's brave, and I love her.

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22 May 2007


Going all the way

multipurpose toilet at Yōga Station #048 at Flickr.comThis is another post not for the squeamish, just so you know.

As my wife noted to me today, it's easy to get a bit blasé at the Cancer Agency—everyone there is dealing with cancer, and it almost seems normal. But today, after my final radiation treatment (yay!) and an excellent Mexican lunch with our friend Steven, I took a brief nap in his guest room and then walked to St. Paul's Hospital to meet with my surgeon, Dr. Brown. His news was not unexpected, but it wasn't the best case scenario either.

The upshot: when I have my tumour surgery in July, Dr. Brown recommends removing everything in my bowel from the bottom of my sigmoid colon on down, leaving with me no functioning rectum, and meaning that I will need a colostomy bag for the rest of my life. Yikes.

Now, I figured that might be the case, but it was still difficult to hear straight up. I can't argue with Dr. Brown's conclusion. He wants to eliminate every trace of cancer he can get at. All the tissue that was previously found to be cancerous, all the associated lymph nodes, and a buffer of extra tissue to ensure, as best as possible, that nothing malignant lingers.

I've read a little on the topic in case it came to this, and colostomies aren't nearly as nasty as you might think. Plenty of people have them, and those people swim, and do sports, and live their lives with hardly anyone knowing about it. And, to be frank, I'm not too fond of my rectum right now anyway. Ahem. I'll get used to my new body functions, as I have with my daily insulin needles over the past 16 years. But this reinforces that my cancer is a Big Deal. A Very Big Deal. This is what it takes to try to stop the cancer from killing me.

And it is a big step. The procedure will effectively move my anus up and onto the side of my abdomen, and the one I've been using since I was born almost 38 years ago will be sewn up, gone. That is just weird.

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20 May 2007


So much

I've never
slept so much
pooped so much
lost so much weight
taken pills so much
had so much intestinal gas
showered and bathed so much
felt unplugged from life so much
stayed stuck in the house so much
watched so much Discovery Channel
missed so much feeling close with my wife, even when we're in the same house.

I thought it was getting better, but some of the side effects seem to be holding on to the bitter end. Then again, I have been taking poisons and getting pummeled with high-energy particle beams for a month and a half now, so I guess that shouldn't be a surprise.

I'm ready for it to be over. Damn am I ever. April and May have included some of the worst days (and nights) of my life.

My surgery coming in July is a scary concept, but if I think about it, the past several weeks have been like very slow, painstaking, relentless, not-directly-invasive surgery via chemoradiation, which I'm only going to start recovering from after my last radiation treatment on Tuesday. By comparison, the real operation will be over in one day, and then I can start getting better.

It won't be fun and games, but it will be decisive, and I hope the weather is good. My friend Simon may be having different surgery at the same hospital about the same time, so we can be summer painkiller buddies.

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17 May 2007


Coming out of the shell

Cancer Treatment: Day 106 (Chemoradiotherapy Day 36)You know it had to be a tough week when I haven't posted to my blog for four days, and it was, but I'm finally in the home stretch. I finished my intravenous chemo one week ago today, and it hammered me in a nasty way over the weekend. Last night I took my last chemo pill, and I slept pretty decently, although it will still take a few days to flush that out of my system. And I have only two radiation treatments left: Friday and Tuesday. (Monday is a holiday.)

Also on Tuesday I meet with Dr. Brown to talk about when I'll have my surgery to remove the tumours. I already know it will be sometime between July 9 and July 22, so I have at least a month and a half to recover and try to gain back some of the 25 pounds (!) I've lost since Christmas.

Today I felt good. I had my radiation treatment, then had a last meeting with Dr. Ma, my radiation oncologist while my wife turned in my chemo forms and leftover pills. Then we went downtown and she had a haircut and I bought myself a new tripod (it's this model). That's the first time I've been interested in any of my hobbies for a few weeks. Here are some boring-but-photo-geeky sample pics:

Tripod Test - f/32 - 30 secs Tripod Test - f/13 - 03 secs

Through this time, my wife has been amazing, running everything in our house and with our two daughters, including school, Guides, tae kwon do, and piano. They have all had to put up with my turning into a cranky, withdrawn shell of a man as the side effects got worse and I spent almost all my time in bed or in the bathroom, and lost in my own head. I'm starting to come out of that now. They are three of the best reasons for me to re-emerge.

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13 May 2007


Adventures in toileting

Cancer Treatment: Day 102 (Chemoradiotherapy Day 32)This is my poopiest post so far. Be warned.

Since I began chemoradiation treatment for my colorectal cancer in late March, my body has continued to find creative and unusual ways to make having a bowel movement a miserable experience. I've had diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal cramps. Stools that were too hard, or too watery. Too much, too little, too fast, too slow. None at all, more than I can handle. Gassy and blocked, or loose and out of control.

I've taken stool softeners, laxatives, and diarrhea relief. I've sat on the toilet backwards so I can rest my arms and head on the top of the tank. I've used baby wipes and Penaten cream because everything else feels like sandpaper. I've taken sitz baths, immersion baths, and long hot showers where I'm kneeling on the floor of the tub for 45 minutes. I've used Magic Bags and electric heating pads and morphine and Extra Strength Tylenol.

Tonight I felt well enough to go for a Mother's Day dinner with my wife, and mom, and mother-in-law. I was amazed considering what I felt like this time yesterday. The steak at Milestone's was extremely good.

But I would like to thank our neighbour across the street for power washing his deck between 5:30 and 8:30 last night, and and again most of today (he's still going). That made everything extra special.

How was your Mother's Day weekend?

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11 May 2007


Going with the evidence

My Radiation MachineScience, particularly medical research, can be a slow process. Determining if a treatment is effective requires carefully designed studies, double-blind tests or randomized controlled trials, multiple studies, and rigorous statistical analysis. That's not red tape: without such methods it's not actually possible to know whether a treatment works and is safe, and especially if it works better and more safely than other treatments and for particular conditions. But it can take years even for preliminary reliable results.

That is frustrating for people, like cancer patients, who want something that can help us now. Almost as soon as I mentioned my colorectal cancer diagnosis back in January, someone emailed me about dichloroacetate (DCA), one of the latest potential "miracle drugs" that takes a different approach to attacking cancer cells, trying to switch their natural self-destruct mechanisms back on—a more natural way to get tumours to stop growing. So far Alberta researchers have found that it may do so in rodents. It will be years before anyone knows whether it is useful in humans.

The CBC has a fascinating set of interviews (MP3) this week with a cancer patient who has chosen to take the so-far unproven DCA instead of traditional chemotherapy, an underground DCA provider (it is simple to synthesize and is already approved to treat other medical conditions), and a medical ethicist from Alberta. The current DCA research team was not comfortable appearing on the same panel as advocates of using DCA before it has been clinically tested, and sent only a written statement.

I'm already part of a clinical trial combining two traditional chemotherapy drugs with a synthetic antibody and radiation therapy. I am certainly having side effects. But there is good evidence that the treatment I'm receiving, which will include surgery and more chemotherapy over the course of the rest of this year, can eliminate the cancer from my body. As part of the trial, I am also helping to build that evidence. Even the "traditional" method, with one chemotherapy drug plus the radiation and surgery, has a good chance of destroying my cancer—the study I'm part of is trying to figure out whether the extra stuff is even better.

On the other hand, had doctors told me that my cancer was inoperable and otherwise untreatable—in other words, if they had told me that I would likely die quite soon from it—that would be a different story. I'd be willing to try untested treatments like DCA and many others out there. Although choosing which of the myriad untested potential "miracle cures" would, of course, be rather difficult without good statistical evidence.

What worries me about the breast cancer patient interviewed on the CBC podcast is that she chose to go with DCA in lieu of regular chemotherapy—she's trying a treatment that may or may not work, may or may not be safe, and may or may not make things worse. Nobody knows. Nobody. And she's trying that instead of treatments that, while they have nasty side effects, do work for most people, and keep them alive. (Combining chemotherapy with DCA wouldn't be much better, though, because nobody knows whether the two treatments have bad interactions either.)

Even if her cancer does get better, she still won't know rigorously whether the DCA was the helping factor, although that will certainly be good for her. If it gets worse, she also won't know whether the DCA was to blame, or had no effect. It seems to me that she has taken what should be a last-ditch effort and applied it before she's even reached the first ditch.

Then again, as my gastroenterologist Dr. Enns said to me back in January—when I still thought this treatment would take a few months and not a whole year—a person is not a number, and each one of us must be treated for our disease, not for the average of all diseases. I'm making my choices here to follow the studies and the trials and the evidence.

That kind of rigorous research already saved my life once, when I developed Type I diabetes in 1991, and didn't die from it as I would have a century earlier, because of the discovery of insulin and the synthesis of the genetically engineered variants of it that I still take every day. It has kept other cancer patients in my family—my father and my aunt—alive for decades since their diagnoses and treatments, and brought my uncle through a fight with colorectal cancer just last summer.

There are plenty of people sending me prayers and good vibes and positive mojo too, and they touch me by doing it, even though I put little stock in those things. And a positive attitude is likely to do well for me too, so I'm trying to keep that up.

But in the end, I put my trust—and, more importantly for me, my judgment—in letting the intellectual and medical process (as well as my cancer doctors Dr. Kennecke and Dr. Brown, who are some of the smartest people I've ever met) try to keep me alive too, once more. For most of human history, I'd have been dead twice over by now. Because of heavy brain work, not this time, I think.

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10 May 2007


Two notes about the B.C. Cancer Agency

A Picture/Video Message! at Flickr.com
  1. Today is my last day of intravenous chemotherapy, and I received both bevacizumab (an antibody) and oxaliplatin (a chemo drug), as well as my usual daily dose of capecitabine pills and radiation. While I'm relieved the IV dosage is over for now, I'm expecting a brutal weekend from the side effects of everything all at once like this. Unfortunately for both my wife and my mom, I anticipate being something of a wet noodle for Mother's Day.

  2. Based on percentages in the parking lot, the doctors at the Cancer Agency are very fond of Porsches.

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08 May 2007


Off the grid

If you've been trying to reach me, you'll have noticed that I haven't been reading email or returning phone calls, nor have I been online with IM. I haven't been posting to this blog or taking photos. I haven't even been listening to music or podcasts, though I have watched some TV (several episodes of MythBusters, for some reason). This is the first I've cracked open my laptop since Sunday.

I am amazingly sleepy. I'm doing okay, but I'm heading into my last week of chemotherapy, and together with the radiation they are taking their toll—on me as well as presumably on my cancer itself. My wife has managed to get me to the Cancer Agency each weekday, but that is the extent of it. Otherwise, I have hot showers where I kneel on the floor of the bathtub to feel better, I eat, I use the washroom, I try to help put the kids to bed, and I sleep.

I'll come back on the grid soon enough, but for now I'll be a flickery presence. Back to bed.

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06 May 2007


I hate weekends

Cancer Treatment: Day 93 (Chemoradiotherapy Day 23) at Flickr.comFor most of my life, Saturdays were my favourite day of the week, but not right now. Weekends are now when my body feels the effects of a work week's worth of radiation and chemotherapy. Yesterday I slept till nearly 11:00 a.m., then again from 2:30 in the afternoon until well into the evening, and once again, in fits and starts, from 10:00 p.m. until 12 hours later.

While I was awake I felt like crap being crapped on by a crapload of crap. Not nauseated, really, but more like my body was packed to the skin with some sort of sludge. There is a genuine physical feeling to having the chemotherapy drugs running through my bloodstream. On the plus side, I'm sure the cancer cells feel even worse.

My wife, during all this time, amazes me. She keeps the whole house running, gets the kids to all their activities, arranges for them to visit the in-laws, does laundry and dishes, and more. I was happy that she could take some time last night to visit our friends' house for dinner—I was so crashed out I would have made no useful company anyway.

I'm hoping I might feel well enough later today to join her and our daughters and the in-laws for dinner. I'll just have to see. So much is minute-to-minute or hour-to-hour for me.

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03 May 2007


Gonna be a sleepy one

Cancer Treatment: Day 92 at Flickr.comToday for the first time in two weeks, I received the heavy-duty chemotherapy drug, oxaliplatin, via an hour-long IV drip at the Cancer Agency. I also restarted the capecitabine pills after a one-week break, and had my usual every-weekday radiation treatment—and it all took less than three hours this morning.

Although I feel nothing from them right away, I dreaded downing the capecitabine pills this morning after the break. They're poison. But poison that's doing me good. And unlike my previous oxaliplatin treatments, I can feel some effects from the drip right away today: the skin on my inner right arm tingles from the site of the intravenous needle on my wrist all the way up to my bicep, and I was tired almost immediately after the chemo session.

But I'm well over half way now. I'm 22 days into a 36 day chemotherapy regimen, and there will be three extra days of "boost" radiation at the end, taking me to May 22 or so. Then I meet Dr. Brown again on May 23 to talk about my surgery (probably in late June) to remove the cancer itself.

I tell you, all the chemo and radiation is doing something to my body. I can sure feel that.

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02 May 2007


Bony butt

The Morning Handful at Flickr.comAs I mentioned before, I've lost close to 20 pounds during cancer treatment. But it hasn't happened as I expected. I haven't suffered any nausea to speak of, and I still have all my hair.

What I don't have is some of my butt. Whether because of the radiation treatments, the chemotherapy, or just my body's general pattern of weight loss, I'm lacking a lot of, er, padding down there.

It's actually uncomfortable to sit down for long periods, especially in bed. My tailbone and surrounding spine and the back of my pelvis start hurting.

My wife noticed it particularly today—the gluteus loss has been gradual, but now it's quite obvious. And tomorrow, after a week's break as part of the schedule for my clinical trial, I go back on the chemo cocktail for the final two weeks.

So, even more bony butt, here I come.

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