I Had Cancer. Thought I Didn’t. Turns Out I Still Did. Now I Pretty Much Don’t.
If the headline seems confusing that’s because it is and also because I don’t ask my doctor enough questions.
If I’ve learned one thing through this ordeal it’s that there’s a difference between having questions for your doctor and questioning your doctor. The former is part of a good, healthy doctor-patient relationship, the latter is what jerks do. Had I just questioned my doctor a little bit more I wouldn’t have gone ahead and written this blog about how cured I was. I’m sure my earlier post was a bit funnier but that was also before I was loaded up with chemotherapy drugs. Funny how that works.
I was pretty surprised when I met with my surgeon post orchiectomy (fancy word for nut removal) that I wasn’t done with the whole cancer thing. I thought the worst was over. I mean how much worse can it get than losing a significant part of you? Turns out it gets worse.
I was passed along to a new doctor, Doctor Edwards. Great guy, good bedside manner, we really got along. He had some bad news. Some of the cancer had spread north to my lymph nodes. I didn’t know much but I knew that getting stuff in the lymph nodes wasn’t good. The good news was that they no longer removed your entire lymphatic system because now we had discovered that chemotherapy was a bit more effective. My regiment was going to be 4 three-week sessions of chemo, each session consisting of a full 5 day week of 4-hour sessions followed by 2 weeks of rest. If that doesn’t make sense don’t worry, it just meant that my chemotherapy was going to last 12 weeks.
I remember being pretty nervous about it, but the thing I really wasn’t looking forward to was getting my PICC line installed. What’s a PICC line? It stands for (googles PICC line) peripherally inserted central catheter. SEXY!! It was basically a fuel tank that went from my bicep to just outside my heart. I was getting it installed (might not be the technical term but roll with it) because of my problem with needles. The thought of getting an IV put in every time I went in was not something I was fond of. In hindsight it was nothing to worry about. I sure as hell didn’t watch it happen but I literally felt nothing other than a pinch when they applied some lidocaine.
Right after the installation was my first chemo session. I was pretty anxious about this. I remember thinking that I would immediately be vomiting and my hair would fall out on the ride home. Nothing could be further from the truth. I actually got pretty cocky about the chemo. I held on to my hair through week 6, and didn’t puke until week 10. It got to the point where I jokingly asked them if they were giving me the right medicine. Turns out they were saving the best for last because I was fine through 3 sessions of chemo, it was the fourth one that brought the pain.
For reasons that I’m not smart enough to explain this stuff really messes with your blood. It turned my blood into garbage. Right now I basically have red water running through my veins. I’m going to share with you the latest results of my blood tests, please do not use it to hack my bank account.
I’ve highlighted the two numbers that are being a real son-of-a-bitch right now. The first one is the HGB line. That’s my level of hemoglobin. It’s currently at 7.5 somethings (I was always taught to label my numbers, but I don’t know what to put there.) That’s LOW. As you can see in the first column anything under 13.5 somethings is a problem. This is essentially making me anemic and close to passing out every time I walk up a flight of stairs. According to my doctor, if you took a normal person and just dropped their level to 7.5 they’d pass out on the spot. So I’m actually being a hero whenever I take a step. Go me. The other problem I have with my blood right now are my platelets. If you remember 8th grade biology platelets are the things that make you stop bleeding. I basically have none of those things. This means that I’m getting a bloody nose roughly every 4 hours and have already ruined 2 pillows.
The silver lining in all this is that I can officially say that my cancer is in remission (I asked Dr. Edwards, he said I could use that word.) I don’t get to use the word cure for another couple of years of continuous remission, but things are hopeful.
Thanks to all my nurses at the Swedish American Cancer Center who were very kind and gentle through the whole process I literally couldn’t have done it without them. Hopefully this blog finds someone who is nervous about getting cancer. You will lose your hair, be tired, and probably throw up a few times but it's better than dying. These doctors really know what they're doing now a days.
Thanks for getting this far in my ramblings and please share this with anyone you feel would be helped with some insider information.