Thursday, 28 April 2011

Beat up but not down

Day 3 of round 2 of my chemotherapy was a long day at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.  I arrived around 10 am and got my daily dose.  It was really nice that my buddy Craig was able to stop by and visit for a bit in the afternoon.  My day ended at around 5pm and my only goal at that point was to find my corner to go lay in and drool on myself some more.

Day 4 of round 2 was today and included a quick trip to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre to get my bleomycin IV bottle disconnected.  I've developed a bit of an infection on my chest and had to meet with the doctor to check on it and see if the antibacterial medication is working.  The chemo drugs pretty much destroy my immune system so something as little as a pimple can get out of control very easily.  On the bright note the antibacterial medication does seem to be working and I have to go back on Monday for a follow up.

After my visit back to bed I went.  I can't ever remember being so tired.  My nausea is under control but I have to force myself to eat as I have no appetite.  At this point all I want to do is sleep but even that can be hard as one of the medications tends to wind my brain up while my body just wants to lay there and drool on itself.  This round seems harder with the fatigue and nausea but still I know it could be worse.  I would like to say more, but right now,  know that I'm doing good and my spirits are still up!  My cheering squad is really helping and all the love and support that you all are showing means the world to me. So as always Love You All!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Think I'm just going to sit here and drool on myself now

Day 2 of round 2 of my chemotherapy and things are going ok and sprits are still up. No really bad side effects today but the hiccups have returned with a  vengeance  but luckily I have the tranquilizers they gave me.  They seem to be working so I'm going to sit here in the corner now and just drool on myself.  As always love you all!

Monday, 25 April 2011

And Round Two Begins!

Day 22 and the first day of round 2 of my chemotherapy.  I started off by heading down to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre for 9:15 am. A little early but just couldn't wait to get started I guess.  It went well as the drug protocols are always the same: anti nausea medications, hydration, cisplastin, etoposide, anti nausea meds, and bleomycin for me to take home in my goodie bag.

Today was not bad and so far no major side effects although I feel pretty run down.  I am still fairly pumped about the news of the tumour shrinkage and feeling very positive about getting through this round with more positive results.  I had a conversation with a gentleman who has colon cancer that has spread to his lungs and he has been doing treatments every two weeks for the last two years now. His cancer is not curable but the treatments have been able to prolong his life.  He told me his doctors never gave him this long and he said it laughing.  It is remarkable the amount of people who face situations far worse than my own and can keep such a positive attitude.  I also talked with another man who was in with his wife who has been undergoing treatment since 2000. 11 years and still fighting was really amazing to me.  Hearing these stories really do put things into perspective and remind me that I am really lucky.  My battle seems so simple in comparison and with far better results in the end.

I want to thank everyone for their words of encouragement, messages, texts, and e-mails.  It really helps when I know I have such a large cheering section backing me every step of the way. As always love you all!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

I'm Still Sane the Voices Tell Me So!

Day 18 of my chemotherapy adventure and things are going well. (Thursday April 19 - just a late post.)  I feel great; I've been watching my diet, eating my greens and living life to the fullest.  I still think that I'm getting off easy so far.  For some this can be much worse but I also know that there are still 2 more rounds to go.

So today is meet with my doctor day and it all starts with a trip to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre for some blood work.  The nurses, I think, are part vampire as they are very efficient in draining most of my blood and also really seem to enjoy doing so.  After that my next stop was to see my doctor who tells me I'm good to go for round 2 and that things are responding well.  In fact so well that some how I've even managed to gained 7 pounds.  As I had mentioned in an earlier blog I had gone in to get a CT scan done to get a up to date picture of my tumours.  The results were the best news I've heard in a long time.  The chemo is doing its job and the tumours have shrunk by half. I also reviewed any problems and concerns that I've had with the last round and Yes! there is a medication that they can give me that will help with the hiccups.  They did warn me that chlorpromazine can really knock me out as it is normally prescribed as tranquilizer for schizophrenics.  Ok, so after a long discussion with the voices in my head we all agreed that it beats having the hiccups for 20 hours straight.  So tranquilizers it is!  For some reason Trysh and Noelle also thought that having me tranquilized was a great idea but neither the voices nor they would explain why.  My final stop was the pharmacy to get my drug supply topped off and another shot of the Neulasta for day five of round 2.

I could have done the happy dance when they told me that the tumours were shrinking as it is a big relief to know that the chemo is working.  Now I'm good to go for the start of round 2 on Monday but I would be lying though if I said that I am not having a bit of apprehension about this next round.  Like sticking a finger down my throat to make my self vomit, there is something that just doesn't seem right about making my self sick even if the end result is that I'll be better.  It's not that I'm worried, it's just that I really hate being sick.  However, I have to say that I'm still very positive, my life right now is very simple and that I'm very happy!  Thank you for all your support and as alway love you all.


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

I've lost my hair but who would notice?

Day 15 of this chemotherapy adventure and finally something new to report.  Over the last week I have been feeling pretty great over all.  The worst thing to report would have been a bit of heartburn.

I have been keeping myself busy.  Last weekend I moved my new roommate in.  My youngest boy Gage is now living with me again and it sure is good to have him here.  The apartment is getting small but it will do while I'm not working.  When this is all over I do think we could use a little more space.

As for updates on my treatment there are a few developments.  Last Friday I was down to the hospital to have another CT scan to get a more up to date picture, however, I won't hear about the results till I meet with my doctor on Thursday this week.  Now on Thursday I will be meeting with my doctor but I will also be having some more blood work done at the same time.  They want to make sure that I'm healthy enough to do round 2 which is scheduled to start on Monday.

The latest news is the loss of my hair.  Yesterday I had what I had but this morning when I got up some of my hair decided to just stay in bed.  For some people I think this can be something harder to deal with but I pretty sure I had already grieved the loss of my hair years ago.  The hair just falls off, it doesn't pull out but if I touch it it falls off.  I tried to shower thinking that it might just wash off but it didn't.  Now I didn't really want to shed on everything for the next few days as it continues to slowly fall out so I found a new use for the lint roller.  It was a stick tape lint roller and all I had to do was brush my hair with it and it all came off.  So day 15 and the top of my head reflects a lot more light now.  I suspect by the end of the week I'll be completely hairless.

I know a lot of you have been waiting to hear more from me and while nothing much has happened over the last week I will be staying on top of the updates when I start round 2 on Monday.

Thanks to you all for the notes of encouragement and as always love you all!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Day 8 (post chemo day 5) and things are going well.

In the fine tradition of being me, I do think I might have pushed myself a little this weekend but like I said before I'm still going to try and live my life.  Saturday I felt really good and in fact was up really early.  All those who indulged a little much the night before seemed to be doing much worse than me.  My day consisted of getting together with my oldest boy who was heading off to Fort McMurray to make his fortune.  I know he will do well, he is an amazing worker, especially when he puts his mind to it!

After that I had a new and amazing experience of my own; I went to my first opera: Aida.  It was such an experience, something everyone should see.  Thank you Noelle and the West family for letting me come along on this evening.

Sunday was a nice day and I took full advantage of the the weather by getting out for the day.  Later that night I got together with some friends at this nice little Moroccan restaurant near Kensington.  One thing that I did have to note is that my taste buds are starting to be affected and food is starting to lose it zest.  Also, I learned that if it's spicy enough to reach my taste buds then I might want to avoid it for now.  I very much did taste the food last night.  In fact I tasted it all last night and most of today.  The heartburn has been unbelievable and the anti-nausea meds are challenged to keep up with my active stomach.  In all though was worth it!  It was a good weekend with good people and I will always be so very thankful for all of you.  So until I have something a little more interesting to say I will leave it at this: I'm doing well and as always Love you All!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Dark Days Followed With Blue Skies

Day 5 (Friday), and day 2 of post Chemo round 1 was a good day to get a lot of sleep.

I had to get up at 8am to go down to the clinic for a hearing test this morning.  It turns out that I do hear just fine, I just have very good selective hearing.  Actually they run the test to compare before and after because a side effect of the Chemo treatments can be loss of hearing.  After all this which took less than an hour, I was back to bed.  I have been fortunate that the worst side effect has been hick-ups and that the anti-nausea medications have worked well.  At this point I still have what hair I started with and for the most part most of my positive thinking.

So last night I missed sitting down and writing my blog but I did manage to get out of bed to go out and make an appearance at my very good friend Alissa's birthday party.  I think I surprised a lot of people by making it down but I figure as long as I have any ability to live a normal life I am going to!  Although I admit that I don't think I was the most lively I've ever been.

I do have to say it has been a hard week but sitting here now Saturday morning (Day 6) and looking out at the blue sky outside, I know every thing is going to work out just fine.  Round one has been gentle and I know that I am so much more fortunate than most who go through these treatments.  I also know that this is only round one and the effects are cumulative but I am determined to stay focused and positive.  I also know that I will take each day as it comes!  So today I am up and going to go out and enjoy this beautiful day.  As always Love you All!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Experiencing a Hick-Up

Day 1 of post Chemo round 1 and things could be worse.

I had to go back this morning to the hospital to have the IV bottle of bleomycin taken out.  Right after that: Bed!  Today has been like having the flu, which as things go, is me getting off pretty easy I think.  The nausea for the most part has been controlled by the meds but the fatigue has been a real ass kicker.  The biggest complaint that I can make is the hick-ups!  Most of last night I was kept up again by violent hick-ups about every 3 to 5 seconds.  As I've mentioned this is a side effect of the bleomycin chemo drug that they send me home with.  I did learn today that they have a medication that will counteract it and hopefully I'll get some for the next round.

I wish I had more to say today but all I want to do is sleep.  So at this point so I will say thanks for all the notes of encouragement, it is always uplifting to know so many of you are out there supporting me.  As always Love you All!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Short and Sweet Tonight

Day 3 of chemotherapy and things are still going well!

Last night was not the best night.  I didn't get much sleep as I have discovered a rare side effect of the treatment, I have severe hick-ups!  They went on for hours and were about 3 to 5 seconds apart which made falling asleep impossible.  They finally let up around 3am but when it was time to get up and return to the hospital I was feeling totally bagged.

I got to the hospital today around 10 am, they got me started on my medications right away and as soon as they got the new IV into me I fell asleep.  The two hour nap was very welcome at that point and did a lot to refresh me.  Around 3pm I had a couple friends stop in to visit, thanks Jen and Craig!

Treatments were done by 5pm today and I was still feeling good.  I took Noelle up on her offer to go see a movie and then stopped in to see my buddy Kirk with the bonus of visiting with Claire who made an appearance.  I do have some video that I will add to these blogs once I get it all figured out.  So for now I will say things are going good, everything considered.  As always Love you All!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Another Day In Day Care

Day 2 of Chemotherapy and things are going well!

I don't want to jinx it but so far so good.  Last night  I did have a bit of trouble sleeping, having this IV bottle attached to me took some getting used to.  Also, I did have a bit of an upset stomach but took another anit-nauseating drug and things seemed to settle down.

Things started at 11am this morning back at day care and for a treat I got the new girl who had a bit of trouble getting my IV started.  So after stabbing me a couple of times and popping the vein she did get help.
Amanda, a much more experienced nurse was kind enough to take over.  The regiment went smoothly after that!  For the rest of the day I had the only male nurse in the day care, Colin, who over saw the treatments.  Things when fast, as I started at 11 am but was done just before 5pm today.

Noelle has been kind enough to keep me company over these days and if I start to get bored she quickly jumps into action and reminds me why they call it day care!  It has been nice to have the company.  We kill time playing on the internet or downloading tv shows to watch and so far the days have gone by fast.

Looking at these pictures of me I now see why the nurse this morning asked how many rounds I've done so far.  Hard to believe I had long hair at one point in my life, albeit many, many years ago!

I have had so many e-mails and facebook messages from all of you following me on this adventure!  I would like to thank all of you for your words of encouragement as it really does mean the world to hear from you.  So today I don't have much more to report other than things are going well so far and I've been lucky enough to not be hit to hard yet by the treatments. Thanks again and as always Love You All!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Day One And I'm Already On The Bottle

Day One of Chemotherapy at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre!

Got up early this morning and got ready to go; felt like I was getting ready for the first day of school or maybe even going camping.  Noelle has taken this week off of work to hang out with me and get me to and from the centre.  So big thank you to Noelle.  I know this has been a lot to take on, once again proving how amazing she is.  Parking is a real bugger at the Foothills Hospital and can get really expensive, so being really cheap means we also get a nice morning walk.

So the first thing to do every morning is to check myself into day care.  This seems to fit with my childlike regression from yesterday.  After checking in I get to sit in the waiting room till they call me.  Once again I note all the different people that are here all at various stages of treatment.  Kinda gives me a sinking feeling when I see some of the people who have been doing chemo now for a while but soon enough a nurse calls my name and off to day care I go.

 Now my attending nurse today was Nicole; a very nice lady who tells me she has been doing this for just over a year.  She really seems to know her stuff and is quick to get me set up and go over the days events with me.  Step one was to hydrate me with a potassium and magnesium solution followed by some anti-nauesiating drugs followed by chemo drug #1: Etoposide.  Then a round of Cisplatin.  Then they gave me another round of the anti-nauesiating drugs.  The final step was to hook me up to a bottle of Bleomycin which will stay connected to me until tomorrow's return.  Once they got me on the bottle they ran through some simple instructions and sent me home.

So day one was relatively uneventful which in my books is a good thing.  I do have to put out a thanks to my friend Jen who was able to make it possible for me to stay connected today.  Jen you so rock!  A big hug to Noelle who doesn't mind hanging out with someone who still goes to day care.  Also a really big applause to the team at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

I must also say that the day care has a nice set up and as you can see from my pictures a really good view.  It's also really cool that they have several volunteers there that go around serving Tim Hortons coffee all day. That might just explain the 12 trips to the washroom though.

Tomorrow I'm back to the Centre for 11am and don't anticipate much happening between now and then.  From what I've read I don't really think I'll suffer from too many side effects.  Till then thank you all for your support and as always love you all!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

One Last Ball!

March 3rd and I'm counting down the remaining hours till I begin Day 1 of Chemo!

Today was an awesome day filled with good food, good friends and good fun.  I have to say thanks to everyone that made today just the best!

It started with brunch this morning with a fantastic group of friends at the Glenmore Inn for what was being called the, "Fatten Up Grant Brunch".  Some could not make it but I know they were there in spirit!  Thank you to all that did come down and help fatten me up.

Then another visit to see my favourite ladies and I was joined by some more excellent friends.  Now, the crapy weather of yesterday turned, just as the weather does in Calgary, to be a beautiful spring day.  So we couldn't resist but to take advantage of the perfect conditions and to build a snow penis with a snow squirrel running of with one of my snow balls.  It's so good to get out and just enjoy life.  Our activities caught the attention of the entire neighbourhood and all the traffic passing by.  We even had a, some what expected, visit from the city by-law officer, who was nice enough to just let us have our fun.  Other visitors, like the little old lady from next door even donated a toque, which we guessed was for the snow squirrel bandit.  It's always fun when we can regress back to being 8 again and just enjoy a day like this.

After this we just lounged around and visited but soon the gang felt the need to eat.  So again I was taken out by the group for a early supper at a really good sushi restaurant.  Now if I had any room after brunch I found a way to fill the void that had been left.  Afterwards, Noelle and I ran a few last errands, including picking up a video camera from my buddy Craig.  Now I can video some of this journey and add it to my blog.  Thank you Craig, you are a really good friend.  Thank you to ALL my friends and family, with you in my life it makes the tough times so much easier to face and as always love you!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

I Get By With a Little Help From....

April 2nd and I think the weather forgot it is supposed to be spring as it looks like mid February outside.

Today's outing first took me to my family doctor, whom I must commend.  With all the quacks out there and the need to just process people though the medical system it is a refreshing change to run into a physician who actually seems to care.  My meeting today was more of just a touching base with him and making sure he is up to date with everything.  It was nice to just sit down with him and talk.  Before I left he let me know that I can come in any time, that I don't need an appointment that he would make the time to see me.  He said at this point I've got the best possible medical team looking after me and that he sees his role now as a support and a resource.  So like I said before, very refreshing and lucky to have such a good doctor.

Later this afternoon I had a chance to hang out with one of my boys, Gage, and catch a movie.  It's really nice to have these times as he is almost 18 now and I'm sure has better things to do than hang out with the old man.  In fact I'm really lucky to have such wonderful kids that still do afford me the time and that are there for me.  I hope they know how much I love each one of them.

Tonight Noelle and I will hang out with a couple of my favourite ladies.  They are very good at reminding me that I'm old and balding and very fortunate to have them as friends, as they truly have had to lower their standards to allow me to hang out with them.  I love the fact that if I ever try and pull a poor me that they are the first ones to kick my ass or at very least make a humbling remark.  It could be so very easy to feel as crapy as the weather out side but with such family and friends I don't see that as a real option.

I know its less than 37 hours, 12 minutes and 53 seconds now till I start my chemo but I'm not going to dwell on it.  Right now I will enjoy myself.  As always love you all!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Starting With a Little Class

3 days till the start of Chemo and starting to feel a little anxious!

Today was chemo class at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.  It was good to get down there and see the centre and get my bearings.  It is kinda intimidating as one approaches the Centre as it is very large building and it made me think that there are so many people who get cancer... so many people who have to go through this.  

I get to the auditorium and find a seat, noticing that it was not a very large group of people but what a variety.  All these people are here to get some information on what they are going to go through, what to expect.  The presenter today was one on the nurses from what they called the day care centre and she gave her presentation from what I'm sure has been a well practiced lecture.  I am not sure it gave me much more info than I had already learned.  However, I did learn one thing and that is when I am done all my treatments I was told that my hair will grow back.  This bit of news is very exciting, as a person going bald before all this happened I thought I would never see it again!

After the presentation we got the tour and got to see the area where they administer the chemo drugs, aka day care.  Now this was one very busy place and had a lot of people there receiving their treatment.  An interesting fact is that every single person is given a taylor made regiment of drugs designed specifically for them and are made right there in the Cancer Centre pharmacy.  The day of treatment the cocktail is made 2 hours before you start and can only be used by the person it is developed for.  The other thing that I found amazing was the cost of each treatment can run into the 10's of thousands depending on what drugs are being used.  

The next stop was the out patient pharmacy right there in the hospital where I got my anti-nausea medications that my doctor had prescribed: Dexamethasone, Ondansetron and Metoclopramide.  I'm to use these during my treatments to help combat the effects of the chemo.  Following a proper regiment I'm told can lessen the side effects a great deal.  The forth medication prescribed comes as a single injection and is called Neulasta which I'm told helps my bone marrow increase the white cell production.  I must say a special thanks to Trysh and her drug plan as this single injection which I'll have to do at least 2 more times comes at a cost of $2600 a shot and with out her drug plan would be unaffordable.

So I have to say today was another stressful one but also a very positive one.  I feel better prepared for this adventure and know I'll get through this.  Thanks again to all of you and love you all!