GREAT GREAT RESULTS

Hi all.

Well, a great day today with the results from the latest CT scan. There has been no progression of cancer since the pre-chemo scan in February. This means that the chemo has done its job.

According to the medical oncologist this means that, statistically, the cancer should be “on hold” for 17 months. Of course, this may be shorter or longer, depending on a number of factors. Given that I have beaten the statistics many times I am confident that we can kick the cancer can well and truly down the road for a number of years. Except for quarterly PSA tests to make sure that nothing is happening.

The immediate issue is that I have not emerged yet from the chemo fog and side effects. The main problems are fatigue and depression. This may have something to do with the significant scanxiety that I have experienced in recent weeks, in the lead up to receiving today’s scan results. The medical oncologist stated that it is too early for the chemo side effects to disappear. It may take another four to six weeks for this to happen.

This great news is timely, as my wife and I will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary this week.

There is, however, no rest for the wicked. Yet again, I will have to commit to maintaining a healthy lifestyle to make sure that the “17 months” expectation is stretched out as far as possible

So, time to put cancer aside and get on with life. Again.

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil

 

 

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NO MORE CHEMO (FOR NOW!)

Great news!!!

I met with the oncologist today to find out whether my PSA has reduced. If not, a further four chemo cycles would be recommended (and were already booked in!)

Drumroll………….the PSA reduced from 27 to 26, so I just made it.

So……..where to from here? I have to halve the Prednisolone dose for three weeks and then stop taking it. I also need to get a CT scan in four weeks and meet the oncologist in six weeks to see what it shows.

If the PSA starts to rise again some time in the future, we can do four more chemo cycles then, or consider other options.

I did not get to ring the chemo bell to celebrate the end of treatment, but I did drop a couple of boxes of chocolates off for the chemo ward staff.

It is hard to put into words how relieved I am. I think I would have struggled to cope  with another three months of chemo.

My wife and daughter have endured a fair bit with my chemo brain, unstable emotions and other issues, so I hope we can look forward to more “normal”, stable and happy times ahead.

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil

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LOTS OF NEWS

Hi all. Well, it has been an while and a lot has happened.

This week saw me with my general practitioner on Monday (quarterly hormone therapy injection), my shrink on Tuesday and my oncologist today (Wednesday). Tomorrow is pre-chemo blood tests and medication, and Friday is chemo cycle five. Phew! That easily fills in a week. I am also trying to live my life!

I am really over chemo. Even though I look around the room and see people much worse off than me. It sucks. On all eight cylinders.

Anyway, about the oncologist. He initially said that we would not do a PSA test until after the chemo has finished, because the results would be erratic. But last meeting he asked for a PSA test to discuss today. No wonder I get so confused. PSA is up from 21 to 27. Not good, as it is increasing. But good, because it is increasing at a slower rate. The oncologist was happy, so I am too.

Also confusing was the discussion about the chemo dose. At chemo cycle four, I commented to the chemo nurse that the oncologist prescribed a lower dose due to the peripheral neuropathy (numbness at fingers and toes, which could be permanent). She said that the dose was unchanged. I assumed that I was wrong, and that the oncologist must have said that he would reduce the dose if the neuropathy worsened. Damn chemo brain makes me doubt myself! Today, the oncologist stated that the dose was indeed reduced. No wonder I am struggling!

And the final kicker was that the oncologist said that we will monitor the PSA after chemo cycle six to determine if we need to proceed with chemo cycles seven to ten. Extreme confusion. I have never heard about chemo cycles seven to ten. Being almost in sight of chemo six which I thought was the end, I am not keen on adding another twelve weeks to this ordeal. That would end in November! Good grief! Thirty weeks of chemo!

And… a scan will see what is happening after chemo cycle six.

Neuropathy means that you have to concentrate on what you are doing to avoid breaking things, hurting yourself, or just getting things done without fine motor skills. I have it mild, so not so bad. However, chemo brain (confusion, lack of concentration etc etc) is making managing this side effect “challenging”.

Emotions are all over the place and can be extreme. Fatigue is increasing, but maybe due to me doing more. On Sunday we walked a five klm charity walk. Monday was an hour in the gym. Today was a five klm bush walk. Great to do, but tiring. Add to this managing a five acre property, two horses, one dog, a wife and a twelve year old daughter, plus life in general, and maybe I am doing ok.

Life is going pretty good. Our tree change is finally backing off the “money pit” period and is more about lifestyle. Lovely. We built a beautiful deck six metres by four metres in the shade of a large gum tree as a place to spend the warmer months in comfort (as opposed the the sizzling west facing terrace of our home!). I put the last oil coating on the deck today, so I am waiting for it to dry so that I can give it a test run. Hmmm………

Despite all the hard times and negativity I realise that I am very fortunate indeed. I am still here, with a beautiful wife, sensational daughter, supportive family, a great circle of friends, good neighbours and a kick arse home and property. Beating the doctors’ life expectancy estimates was  a great win, and getting on with life has been brilliant. I could have listened to the doctors and given up. Building our rural home and property was probably a crazy gamble that I may not have seen happen. But I did see it happen. So great.

Why am I still here? Who knows? Hormone therapy? Radiation therapy? Medicinal cannabis? Prayers of family and friends? Healthy living? Tree change? Divine intervention? Meditation? Or, more importantly, who cares? So long as I can enjoy good family, friends and supporters then I am a winner.

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil

 

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CHEMO CYCLE THREE

Hi all,

Well…….. infusion three happened last Friday. I mentioned some side effects from chemo two (chemo brain, fatigue, numb fingers and toes, nose sores, gum bleeds and insomnia) to the medicos, which caused much discussion about whether to proceed. We concluded that the magnitude of the side effects was not great, so OK to proceed.

An example of chemo brain was using a jig saw to cut a plywood panel for a vegetable box. There was simply no way that I could follow the line drawn on the panel, or even cut a straight line. It was very distressing. Other examples are losing my toothpaste, my belt, my mobile phone, socks and various other items (not counting my mind!). Scary for someone who is obsessive compulsive about putting stuff back where it belongs.

I can be muddle headed, confused and emotionally unstable, which worries me. Overlay this with the effects of insomnia and fatigue and I am feeling lousy at times.

Numb fingers and toes result in clumsy stuff and fumbling things. I was heating up my daughter’s dinner in the oven the other night, and was testing the temperature using a metal skewer. I kept checking the skewer with my fingers and could not understand why the temperature was not rising. I then put the skewer on the back of my hand to discover that it was hot. I was warned about this and should have known better.

Since chemo three the nose sores have worsened, and fatigue has really set in. Big time. I am very fortunate to not have some of the really nasty side effects. However, I am told that the side effects can increase with each cycle. As I am not yet half way through, this is a worry.

I really need to snap out of this funk and see things more positively. Cheers, Phil

 

 

 

 

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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

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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

 

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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

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