Chemo Day One: A self-portrait in light, shadow

8 January 2013, Nikon D300, ISO 320, 18 mm, 1/125 sec, f3.5

8 January 2013, Nikon D300, ISO 320, 18 mm, 1/125 sec, f3.5

Today was the first of what will be an even dozen chemotherapy sessions, a toxic battle to contain that aggressive ““high grade metastatic micropapillary urothelial carcinoma” that cost us our bladder, with the prostate thrown in for luck.

We learned something new at the start of the session in the pleasantly appointed chemotherapy floor at Kaiser Oakland, just across Broadway from the old hospital building.

The day began with a bit of a shock. We learned that instead of the three sessions we thought would comprise our treatment, there will be four three-session cycles [with a week interval of no chemo in between each cycle], for a four-month regime.

Each cycle will begine with a session like today’s, beginning with a cup full of steroid [decadron] and anti-nausea [] tablets, followed by the installation of the intravenous line, with the first potion pumped through the veins being another anti-nausea agent, followed by a hefty dose of gemcitabine hydrochloride along with a separate bag of IV saline solution, then followed up with two-hour infusion of cisplatin accompanied by another separate bag of saline.

Next Tuesday will be a shorter session with only the gemcitabine hydrochloride, followed by another identical session a week later. Then comes the week off, followed by another double whammy to start the next cycle.

We’re feeling a bit disoriented and a bit weak. No nausea yet, though we suspect it’s coming later this evening.

The Kaiser nurses were excellent, the setting as pleasant as reasonably possible. There are individual TVs. But we were blessed by the presence of a good friend throughout the whole five-hour session, which really helped.

It’s a fascinating business. The chemo was called for by a biopsy following of November radical surgery to remove two organs we’d learned to know and love [God, how we miss the joy of taking a good piss. . .of what our old man called “shaking the dew from my lily.”]

When the chopped the two organs, they also scooped up 20 associated lymph nodes, one of which had been colonized by that nasty, aggressive cancer. Finding it on node meant a fifty/fifty chance it had also spread elsewhere. No radiation because where to target the beams since you’re dealing with probabilities and not specific sites of spread?

So the adventure has begun.

We’ll keep you posted.


6 responses to “Chemo Day One: A self-portrait in light, shadow

  1. Everyone should be as well informed as you. Most people don’t want to know anything other than when is it done. MY HAT IS OFF TO YOU! One brave soul!

  2. You are the quintessential ‘exceptional patient,’ a term coined by Bernie Siegel (author of Love, Miracles and Medicine) for those who participate actively in their treatment and cure.

  3. Bill Sturgeon

    Someday all these chemicals and procedures will go the way of blood letting by the local barber. “Cyto-toxic therapy” is, and always will be, an oxymoron.
    Makes me wonder if anybody is studying sleep patterns of oncologists? Were I one I would have difficulty sleeping, too. Best luck, and, as Betty would say, best love. Bill

  4. Of all the news you cover, this is the main story worth following.
    Thank you.

  5. Bruce E. Woych

    Qigong will help you through; stay hydrated and watch your bone density.
    Exercise is essential but relative to the strains, eat smart for nourishment.
    Accept passively; drift with life…and actively give permission to reality as you shape it to your acceptance…Great Luck to you and profound wishes.
    Don’t complain…Don’t explain (from an old movie…)

  6. That is a great photo! I hope you will not be a shadow of yourself!
    Is that what you mean by we?

    When you are up to it – if you choose – seek the alternate therapies, diet, & peaceful activities.

    Be well – you WILL conquer this!

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