warnings for this entry – brief poop talk and period talk at the end.
i’ve been getting slightly more ill-feeling on treatment days with each treatment. it’s not a huge deal – it’s easily manageable with Maxalon (anti-nausea drug) and Zofron (another one) and steroids (another one). but i’m rarely/barely hungry on treatment days, and more and more tired. it’s ok. just annoying. i also think it’s a fine line between nausea and reflux. apparently chemo irritates your stomach lining which is the reason i get reflux? i’m not super good at detail on this stuff. sorry.
the good thing is, i continue to feel well outside of treatment days. my CEA levels (tumour markers) are down to 600, my liver function remains pretty much normal for someone NOT on chemotherapy, with only two slightly raised enzymes, and i feel ok. what is hard is things like not knowing exactly what the lower tumour markers mean – i mean, i know it’s good – my oncology psychiatrist was really excited about it and my oncologist is saying treatment is going very well – but i get worried about being too optimistic, as there will, with no doubt in my mind, be further setbacks. cancer, and i think any chronic illness, works like that. progress, retreat. progress, retreat. in the journey, the train breaks down and has to double back, and you have no idea if the person yelling out threats two seats over does actually have a gun.
i’m also feeling stupidly glum over something dumb. i am almost finished watching all the Boston Legal. i get a tremendous sense of loss at the end of a series i enjoy, because, to be honest, i rely a lot on stories to help me through this. stories, narrative; they are life sustaining. and i am going to miss Denny Crane and Alan Shore a lot once i am finished. Denny Crane. i have to pick a new series, and i know once i’ve gotten into the rhythm of it, the same rhythm of my spinning wheel, it will feel good and i will feel safe and comforted again. i’m saving the final two parter episode for tomorrow, so i can pick something out to watch next. maybe The Blacklist, because i really like James Spader. sometimes i feel guilty for escaping into TV like this – as though i should be Experiencing Cancer, or Experiencing the Reality of Life, or going kayaking or something. i’m really shit at kayaking. what do you do when your bucket list is to read more books, spin more yarn, and try and be a decent person as much of the time as possible? there’s no end point, no tick-off, no nothing. there is always more fibre to spin into yarn, and always, always more books to read. i guess i would always die with that, in 100 years or 1.
i’ve been reading a lot on the Bowel Cancer Australia website, and it’s left me surprisingly optimistic. there are some great booklets on treating rectal/colorectal cancer mets, and how the liver surgery for mets works, and treatment options for enlarging your healthy bits of liver before surgery. also, some really good stuff about lung mets, which was helpful and good for me to think about in preparation for dealing with the possibility that they may return one day. it was hopeful but realistic, and i highly recommend them for other colorectal cancer patients to look at. and i’m a big scaredy cat about all this stuff.
body-wise, my IBS is playing up at the moment – i don’t know if it’s down to the chemo, or just my bowel acting as it always has, my entire life. i had two weeks of horrendous constipation – including outside my constipation-drug-days (the drugs to stop the nausea, and the side effect of diarrhoea from one of the chemo drugs) – which then turned into very tolerable, mild, but still irritating diarrhoea. it’s a big, serious thing to watch out for on the drugs i’m on, and i am alert-but-not-alarmed about it. i stopped taking the pill almost 5 months ago now – this was due to the fact that my original most-likely diagnosis for the liver tumours was an oestrogen-caused tumour, and the pill would be terrible for it. after that, i stayed off it, due to the blood clot risk factor that comes with oestrogen in the form of the pill – i was on the one with the highest risk factor for DVTs to prevent acne. it goes without saying that the acne has come back. i’ve not had a single period since stopping the pill. i’m grateful for this, but also remain alert-but-not-alarmed about the prospect of ovulation. at no point in my life have i ever had regular periods, or more than a couple a year, so it’s not too abnormal, but it could be the chemotherapy stopping it, or peri-menopause. my oestrogen was at peri-menopausal levels prior to beginning cancer treatment anyhow. i probably should ask my poor, long-suffering clinical nurse if i should be on calcium or of that would interfere. same with vitamin D. my aspirin begging still falls on deaf ears – i might try again. aspirin is in stage III clinical trials, as it’s been shown to have a really positive effect on colorectal cancer patients survival rates. it’s also cheap as, and in my cupboard. sadly, the chemo is all about breaking down blood vessels, and the risk of bleeding is likely too high – aspirin use is a risk benefit, and it might be on the risk side, rather than the benefit one for me at the moment. i’m hoping i can get it during radiation, and in the recovery period post both surgeries.
my Nobel Challenge has started well with Doris Lessing. blog updates posted to FB and Twitter, as i think almost all of my readers come from there. but it’s at this address.