(Warning: The following blog talks about chemotherapy and the yucky consequences from said therapy. If you are adverse to assorted yucky stuff, i.e., screaming diarrhea, you might want to just scroll past this one on your Facebook page. For the rest of you, welcome to the real world and buckle up.)
First off, an apology. I know a lot of you have been praying for me and my family, and you have been looking for some sort of blog that describes how things have been going for me during chemotherapy. I should have written this earlier, but, it just wasn’t happening. Sorry about that, but I generally write in the morning, and mornings have been pretty rough lately.
I’m gonna do this with a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section. I get a lot of the same questions about how I’m doing during this whole process, and this blog will attempt to answer those questions. So let’s start get started.
1. How are you feeling?
A. In a word? Crappy. This probably won’t come as a surprise to most of you, but chemotherapy isn’t fun. Even when I feel okay, I feel kinda crappy. Next.
2. Is it worse this time?
A. Yes, it is. Jevtana, my chemo drug this time, is not for pussies. With Taxotere , my first chemo drug, I had about 10 days after treatment when I would feel awful, and then an 11 day stretch where I would feel okay. This time, every morning I feel pretty awful, with a lot of trips to the bathroom. I don’t dare leave the house until at least noon, and even then it can be a problem.
(For the prostate cancer survivors out there, your results may vary. I’ve read about people that thought Jevtana was way easier to take than Taxotere. Every drug effects every individual differently.)
3. What’s going on in the bathroom?
A. Seriously, you’re gonna ask THAT question? Okay, here we go. When I’m sick, whether that’s with the regular flu or with something I ate that doesn’t agree with me, I don’t generally throw up. My body gets rid of things through the um, southern portal. And my body ain’t happy with this Jevtana that keeps getting introduced to my system. So, every morning it tries to reject it. Along with everything I ate from the previous day. And on some days, it also feels like my rectum is trying to push out my intestines and my colon and most of my innards. That’s when the screaming starts. So, yeah, not great, Bob.
3. Do they have medications to help you during these times?
A. I have two prescriptions for meds. One is an anti-nausea medication that is not really effective and makes me tired. The other is prednisone, a steroid that helps with the tiredness and overall crappy feeling. I try to not take much of the Pred, because it’s side effects are weight gain and a rise in blood pressure. The drug Xtandi that I was on before the chemo also had that effect, so I’m already heavier than I have ever been and my blood pressure is way too high.
Another interesting side effect of prednisone is fluid retention, which can lead to a condition known as “moonface.” I’m not really thrilled about that one either. Although, “Moonface” is a great name for a Batman villain.
“Holy fluid retention, Batman, Moonface is robbing that armored car!”
4. Do any over the counter meds help?
A. Yes. I take Tylenol for the every morning headaches, and I take Imodium to try to stem the tide of the daily diarrhea. My nurse recently recommended that I take Imodium before going to bed, and then take another one in the morning. That was good advice. That regimen is helping me get into the day a little easier, with less frequent emergency trips to the restroom.
5. Are you taking any alternative medications?
A. Yes. I’m taking a cannabis extract product called Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). RSO is a product that came out a few years ago as an alternative cancer treatment. I personally don’t believe it’s gonna cure my cancer. Actually, I’m pretty sure it is not. But, it does help with the nausea, and it gives me a pleasant feeling of being slightly high. I don’t take very much, because I hate the feeling of being too high, but RSO helps me get through the day.
6. So, you’re pretty much stoned all the time?
A. Well, I’m not Jeff Spicoli ordering a pizza in Mr. Hand’s class kind of high, but yes, there is a little buzz there most of the time. I’d rather be a little buzzed than a lotta sick.
(Mr. Hand- Am I hallucinating here, just what in the hell do you think you’re doing?
Jeff Spicoli- Learning about Cuba, having some food.) Classic.
7. Are you still working?
A. No. Steelcase, because of COVID, has been pretty slow. They offered a voluntary layoff, and I took it. It would be nice if Congress could come up with some sort of plan for a little extra money for people currently out of work, but I’m not holding my breath on that happening anytime soon. With my daily morning ailment, I doubt I could work even if I wanted to. Also, if I were working, RSO would not be an option. Steelcase, as a general rule, frowns on people that show up to work stoned. Heavy machinery and marijuana don’t mix.
8. How often are your treatments?
A. I venture into the infusion room once every three weeks. The whole process takes about 3 hours. I first get blood work done, so they can check my numbers. My white blood cells crash right after my treatment, and slowly come back over the three weeks. The first week I’m very susceptible to any kind of sickness, so I have to be careful. I don’t go anywhere for about a week.
After the blood work, I meet with my oncologist for a session of “How ya feeling Dan?” type questions. Basically, it’s my time to bitch at him for making my life miserable. He’s a nice human, so he takes my bitching in stride and patiently offers help. I like the guy. He’s kind of quiet, and I try to make him laugh, which ain’t easy. He’s pretty stoic. But I’m a funny guy, so he can’t resist.
After the appointment, it’s into the infusion room, where I wait for my drug to be prepared by the in house pharmacy. The drug is administered through a port in my chest. The whole process is pain free, and proceeds pretty smoothly. They do good work at the Lacks Cancer Center. I’m always amazed at the people that work at cancer centers. They are truly doing the Lord’s work. God bless them all.
9. How many infusion sessions do you have to go through before you’re done?
A. This round of chemo consists of 10 treatments. I just had my third, so 7 more to go. The treatments will go on until the second week of February.
I try not to think about how many treatments I have left or how long this is going to last. I take it one treatment at a time. Otherwise, the whole thing seems a bit daunting to me.
Okay, one more question. You, in the back, what’s your question?
10. Will chemo cure you?
A. Probably not. There is no cure for advanced prostate cancer, although I guess it could happen. Mostly, for me, the hope is that the chemo will extend my life. As long as I continue to find life to be pain free and rewarding, I think it is worth it to endure the treatments. When things go bad, like if the cancer spreads to my bones and my quality of life becomes poor, any further treatments will be looked at through the lens of quality versus quantity.
How’s the hair?
A. Rich, full and luxuriant. And still attached to my head. Stay tuned on that one.
Well, that’s it for now. If you have anymore questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section of this blog, or on Facebook.
Thanks for reading.