CHEMO CYCLE TWO

Hello, the second cycle of chemo started with an infusion today. It was pretty uneventful, and (touch wood) there are no serious side effects yet.

One unavoidable side effect is losing your hair. All of it according to the oncologist, but only “thinning” according to the chemo nurse. Well, after my hair started falling out last Thursday, I decided to take the initiative. Giving myself a buzz cut rather than letting the hair thin was a popular choice. My wife and daughter kindly helped on Friday night, armed with scissors and an electric trimmer. The buzz cut was a bit untidy, so out came the razor for a full shave.

There was some demand for a full reveal of my new look nude nut. Mostly for a laugh. I  wanted to wait until I was comfortable with the look. After double takes at windows and mirrors, I think I am used to it. Soooo……….here it is: –

IMG_2578

Anyway, moving right along…….I also decided today to get motivated about riding the horse that we have had for two and a half months. Off to Saddle World to outlay $125 for helmet and boots and I was ready for action. Here I am riding our horse for the first time:-

IMG_2567

Nothing too ambitious. Just a walking pace around the arena and over trot poles, plus an accidental rise to a trot.

All considered, it has been a pretty good day. Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

MR BALDWIN

Hi all, well the responses to my last post clearly favoured a buzz cut over seeing what happens with hair loss.

Feedback included the bald head being a trophy, that I would look like an emoji, that I should be re-named Mr Baldwin (my daughter’s idea just before she fell about laughing), egg head and various other comments. All good for a laugh, so thanks to everyone for the feedback.

Sooo……after twenty four hours of finding my ex-hair in various places around the house, on my shoulders etc, I decided that it was time to take action. It started off as a home buzz cut, administered by my wife and daughter with scissors and the trimmer on an electric shaver. Amidst much humour and laughter. It ended with a shaved head (see photo) as the buzz was a bit untidy.

It will take a bit of getting used to, but it does feel good to take control rather than letting  chemo dictate the outcome.

Hopefully a bald-win. (Sorry for that!)

Cheers, Phil

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW

Hi all,

Well, two weeks into the first chemo cycle and all is well. I met with the oncologist this week and he is very happy that side effects have been minimal.

The oncologist told me on several occasions that all my hair will fall out. The chemo nurse said that my hair will thin, but will not all fall out. I understood that hair loss would occur down the track. Sooo…….. when I was preparing to go out tonight I was shocked to look down into the sink to see……hair. In the overall scale of things it is a “something nothing”, but it was unexpected. Even though I knew it was going to happen (if that makes sense!?).

Now I have to think about whether I let it go and see what happens, or visit the hairdresser for a buzz cut. Not sure what to do.

I will also have to come to grips with terms such as chrome dome, nude nut, cue ball etc.

I am a little uncomfortable that my circumstances will now be very visible.

And……I have a real cool “No Fear” beanie that will come in handy. That is, if I can stop my twelve year old daughter from stealing it.

The second cycle starts next Thursday, so I will provide updates when I can.

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

CHEMO CYCLE ONE

Hi all,

Well, cycle one started.

The plan is for six cycles of IV drip infusions of Docetaxel, separated by three week recovery periods. I need to take Dexamethazone before each session and Prednisolone daily. Plus there is nausea medication if required. There is also a list of do’s and dont’s to manage, and additional stuff to counter any side-effects. And….I have put together a chemo kit containing all the necessary stuff to keep with me in case of problems. I will spare you the gory details.

I had a massive anxiety attack Monday morning prior to the chemo education session. I felt much better afterwards, thanks to the terrific nurse who took me through the whole process. This was fortunate, as we had interstate visitors arriving Monday and leaving Wednesday, followed by day visitors from Brisbane on Wednesday. This all worked well. We had a great time and it distracted me from my chemo woes.

On Tuesday I had another pre-chemo hospital visit. In the waiting room a man was talking loudly about his chemo experience. He said that it was the worst thing he ever did and, if he had known what it was going to be like, he never would have done it. This did not help my mental state. I managed to get over it, once again with the distraction of our visitors.

Thursday was a quiet day. Friday morning the chemo session took two hours. It was pretty uneventful, except for a minor asthma attack. I had a tight chest, difficulty breathing and a cough. It was sorted when the chemo was turned off and it did not re-occur again when it was re-started.

Apparently nausea will usually start within hours of the infusion. It is over a day now without any nausea, so I may have managed to dodge one of the most common and worst side-effects. I have no other side effects. Early days, but a good start.

The nurse will call me Monday to find out how it is all going. Otherwise, it is back to life as normal. Or, should I say, as normal as it can be.

And…of course this is all much easier to manage with the assistance of my beautiful and supportive wife and daughter. They are also suffering, but I get most of the attention and support. I am so lucky.

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

PSA UP, CHEST COLD AND CHEMO

Hi all, well earlier this year I posted that treatment this year was unlikely. How things have changed!

I met with my medical oncologist today to update the PSA test results and discuss treatment options following input from my radiation oncologist.

The PSA is up from 12 to 21 in the last quarter. The medical oncologist is convinced that it is time to act. He believes that, based on the increasing PSA, physical symptoms from the pelvic cancer growth are imminent. Early intervention may help avoid nerve damage.

The radiation oncologist has not recommended radiation therapy, suggesting chemo or additional hormone therapy. Additional hormone therapy can limit the ability of future chemotherapy, so chemotherapy is the preferred treatment.

There are plenty of horror stories about chemotherapy, so I have never really been interested in this type of treatment. However, following discussion about side effects and how they can be managed, we have decided to proceed. The drug is Docetaxel

Unfortunately, I have a bad chest cold at the moment. The plan is to give some time to get over the cold and have an influenza injection, so the first treatment is scheduled for 26th April. The treatment is a drip infusion for about an hour. Initially, there are six infusions planned, one every three weeks. This may change depending on how I react to the treatment. Prednisolone and Dexamethasone are also prescribed for side effects.

It has not really sunk in yet. I am disappointed and scared, as I did not expect anything to happen this quickly. Hopefully this will translate to relief that something is being done rather than continued watching and waiting.

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

CLOSER TO DECISION TIME

Well, the meeting this week with the medical oncologist was good and bad. The meeting was primarily to discuss the results of the bone can and CT scan ordered following rising PSA, to determine what treatment options may apply.

The bone scan shows an improvement from last year’s scan, so there is no need to consider bone strengthening medication yet. I actually took a peek at the screen when they were doing the scan and thought I was lit up like a Christmas tree, so I was expecting bad news. What a relief!

The CT scan shows a growth in my pelvis, which is probably responsible for the recent increasing PSA. The medical oncologist’s motto is “treat the person, not the numbers”, so he does not recommend taking any action until side effects become apparent. This will probably entail referred pain down my right leg, and other malfunctions. If the side effects occur a quick decision will need to be made as nerves are involved and avoiding permanent nerve damage will be the goal.

So….the options to ponder are: –

Radiation Therapy – my medical oncologist will refer this to my radiation oncologist to see if this is viable. It may not be possible if treatment is required in the same area as previous radiation treatment.

Chemotherapy – this involves six infusions at three week intervals (although this can vary depending on how you respond). It also involves a long list of ugly side effects. So around five months of treatment to get a statistical fourteen month average period of impact. Does not sound like a great deal. But, as always, the decision is difficult. Some side effects may not occur, or they may be minor, or they may be treatable. Plus, the impact may be a lot longer than the statistical average. If the side effects are really bad, you can stop treatment.

Hormone Therapy – additional hormone therapy treatment can be undertaken. Also confusing. If you take this instead of chemotherapy, a stronger version of the cancer may survive, which may make subsequent chemotherapy less effective.

I was disappointed to hear that Immunotherapy has not been proven effective against prostate cancer.

And there is always the “do nothing” option. This will probably result in spinal nerve damage and resultant incapacity. Having been there nearly four years ago, and narrowly avoiding paraplegia and any permanent incapacity, I am not keen to go down this path again. I may not be so fortunate a second time.

A lot of stuff to ponder. I am meeting with my medical oncologist mid April to discuss the radiation therapy option and update the PSA test results.

Outside of the medical world, things are good. Our tree change is transitioning from the cost and stress associated with establishing our country property into a time where we can enjoy what we have achieved.

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

NEXT STEPS AND BRAIN BLIPS

Hello all,

I met with my oncologist today. As expected, he is not too fussed about the PSA rising from 7.1 to 12. In his words, he will “treat the person, not the numbers” Again, he said to leave the cancer stuff with him and his team and get on with life. I like his thinking.

He asked for a CT scan and bone scan, which we will talk about in our next meeting 28 Feb. This will determine what course of action to take. For example, he said if there is a concentration of cancer activity it may be appropriate for radiation therapy to hit the spot. If it is more spread out, maybe chemo is the answer.

I like the idea of a targeted response, as it saved my bacon nearly three years ago when I had spinal tumours.

Otherwise, all the various other blood test results were normal. Woo hoo!

There has been one other issue bothering me. I seem to lack focus when talking, often mixing up my sentences. For example, I told my doctor that my daughter was seven, when she is eleven. I was talking to someone about an auction in PNG, when I meant Gympie. I am either doing this more often recently, or noticing it more. Just not thinking straight. Scary stuff.

My psychologist was not alarmed when I told her yesterday, and agreed to work on cognitive tests to, hopefully, confirm I am not losing my mind.

My oncologist said that it is not uncommon with cancer patients. Often, there is so much going on with thoughts and stress about tests, results, treatment, life in general and all the other baggage. The brain is overwhelmed and more mundane matters do not get the focus required. And I no longer have the challenges of employment and career to keep my brain developing. He said I was not going mad, which is nice to know. He suggested brain training exercises and learning new things to help keep the focus. Something to ponder.

Add this to a recent re-entry into the world of exercise with a swim/gym membership at the local aquatic centre, and hopefully the mind and body should return to something resembling good shape.

So, like so many other of my posts, the conclusion is that we are waiting……….again……….

At least we have a load of stuff on our plate to keep us busy and positive.

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 7 Comments