January, 2001

1/5/2001 I see I've been a bit lax in keeping this current. Actually, that's usually good because it means nothing major has been going on. But, I keep hearing from some folks about updating the page, so better get on with it. First of all, the holidays turned out to be great! My daughter spent a couple weeks with us and Robin was down for a few days from Duke. Got some new jammies, so I will be the best looking dude in post-op in a couple months. Started my 6th, and last, full round of chemo on 1/3 and must admit to looking forward to next Saturday (1/13) when I get disconnected from the pump. Have an appointment with the medical oncologist on 1/11 where we will explore the next step. We already have an appointment with the radiation oncologist for 1/23. Need to go in and spend some time (again) in the simulator so they can check out my tattoos. Since the tumor has shrunk since they last tattooed me, they need to see if any changes will need to be made for positioning the radiation. Other than that, things at this end are pretty much the same. I should have 2 or 3 weeks without the 5FU pump (happy day!) so the body may have a chance to do some serious healing. The cold is finally going away and just have a bit of a cough left. Taste, neuropathy, sore feet - all these come and go on almost a daily basis. Sounds like I'll be back on 5 days of 5FU for the first and last week of the 5 week round of radiation. Will know more after meeting with Dr. McCord again on the 23rd.

1/12/2001 One thing you can depend on with cancer is you can't depend on anything! Had the meeting with Dr. Yaffe yesterday and he called Dr. McCord and now, rather than meeting Dr. McCord on the 23rd, I'll be meeting with him on the 18th and starting a combined chemo and radiation treatment on the 22nd. Things just keep changing so quickly around here! Not only has that changed, but now Dr. Yaffe is going to keep me on the 5FU pump for the duration of radiation. Anyway... the meeting with Dr. Yaffe was short and mainly to discuss the next treatment stage. No CT scans done, so it was a general checkup to see how well I was tolerating chemo. We discovered one of the best things to hear from your oncologist is, "Gee, you're looking pretty good!" After you see some of the folks in the infusion center, you know that there are many who are not as fortunate and don't look good at all. We take our victories where we find them! So - back in to the radiation oncologist on 1/18 for a brief meeting with Dr. McCord and another round in the simulator checking the tattoos. The radiation drill will be: off to the infusion center on Monday to get hooked back up to the 5FU pump and then, every weekday, going back to Northside Hospital for a daily dose of radiation. After the Friday dose, back to the infusion center to have the pump removed for the weekend. Alas, doesn't look like I'll be making it to the Winter Star Party in the Florida Keys. Dr. Yaffe said the radiation dicta was to start and then barrel through to the end without any breaks. Keeping my fingers crossed that we make it next year. Will next post after meeting with Dr. McCord on the 18th.

1/21/2001 Things have been changing since I last posted (see the above comment about not being able to depend on anything). After meeting with Dr. Yaffe on the 11th, he called on the 15th to say he had been checking out the protocol he's using on me and I will be undergoing a FULL chemo regimen rather than just 5FU during radiation. Tomorrow (Monday) it's into the Infusion Center to get a big slug of Taxol (and I was SOOO hoping the hair would start growing back!), carboplatin (something new, but Dr. says fewer side effects than the cisplatin) and the 5FU. The drill is: every Monday, I'll be getting the 5FU and carboplatin for the next 5 weeks. On the 1st and 4th Monday, the Taxol will be administered as well. My figuring is: what the heck, another month of chemo can't hurt, can it? The nurses at the Infusion Center report it should only take 3 hours or so to push all this stuff, so I have my first appointment with the radiation machine for tomorrow afternoon. Met very briefly with Dr. McCord on Thursday and his main concern was my reduced white cell count. Went in after the meeting to have a blood count done. He said if it was too low (how low, he didn't specify), radation would have to wait until it got back to a better level. Candace faxed a copy of the lab reports to Dr. McCord's office and we haven't heard anything back saying radiation was on hold. So, expect to have chemo and radiation tomorrow. Will report how it goes.

1/22/2001 Went in for the first radiation session today and it was a breeze! The actual zap of radiation (ionizing radiation from a linear accelerator... whatever that means!) was about 20 seconds on the chest and then another 20 seconds on the back. Spent about 30 minutes total on the table, but most of that time was spent taking a couple x-rays and making even more marks on my chest. Didn't mind since I want the zapper to hit the right spot. Here's a couple photos of the machine and the fine people who will be helping me finish this dance with the dragon.

  A couple pictures of the zapper machine. Click on images to see the larger view.

 
 
  Mark and Staci are the fine folks that will be taking care of me.

 December     February