Category Archives: ABVD

Recovery from fatigue and job hunting

You may recall that a few weeks ago I was really pleased that I was able to do an hour or so’s exercise using the Wii Fit. Well, that stopped perhaps four weeks ago when I just seemed to run out of energy, to feel lethargic, and, to be honest, I really wasn’t motivated. I mean the Wii is OK but it’s essentially something you do on your own isn’t it – well that’s my excuse anyway! Maybe the fatigue is because I’ve been spending hours on-line searching for jobs. I find a lot that I think I can do and then comes the dreaded phrase, “x years experience”. Then it’s on to the next job. Usually I can get out an application for at least one job a day, often two and sometimes three, but they do take time. All the on-line applications seem to want every job and qualification listing and this can take a long time and requires a lot of post-chemo-brain concentration which is far more tiring than before I started the chemo. It is really frustrating doing job applications in this way. On Wednesday I started an application for a job with T-Mobile which took a while because of all the jobs/qualification data, but that’s fair enough if they want it they want it. Then came the “filter,” the on-line activity to see whether I understand enough not to shout at customers etc. So I started working my way through the screens and then up popped a message to tell me that the testing site was only configured to work with Internet Explorer 7. As I was using Chrome I was reasonably confident that it would be compatible but, hey, you don’t want to blow your one and only chance to complete the test by having the browser crash on you do you, and the instructions were very insistent that I shouldn’t exit the test part-way through, and neither should I close the browser part-way through, so it was a case of starting over again using Internet Explorer. That was where the problems started. I just couldn’t make any progress. I don’t mean I am so dense that I couldn’t answer the questions, but I just couldn’t get anything to happen on screen. Naturally, being a man, I wasn’t prepared to phone the tech help line until I’d failed to achieve success in every way I could think of – that took about 30 or 40 minutes I guess – you can imagine how far out of the way I could have driven had I been in a car and adopted that strategy! So, a quick call to tech support revealed that they were having a problem and they were also having a problem resolving the problem they were having; this meant come back tomorrow. I did. I went back on-line last night, remembering to use Internet Explorer, and worked my way steadily through all the scenarios that were presented to me. I even started to work my way through the pair-statement section (which I personally hate with an intensity which I cannot describe), and that was when I discovered that Windows had updated itself and was now closing my computer. OK, I admit I was so engrossed in playing T-Mobile’s “shall we employ him” game that I failed to see the Microsoft warning that this was about to happen, but knowing that really didn’t make me feel any better. Now, my computer was a better than average one when I bought it about five years ago, but since then I’ve loaded it with programs and, accordingly, it creaks a bit and runs quite slowly when powering down and re-booting so I watched the latest Big Bang Theory on t.v. and then went back and managed to complete the application form.

Today I’ve felt much healthier and have spent around one and a half hours walking to various places such as the Post Office. I’m not really sure why Americans send mail, and mail things to one another and yet use the US Postal Service and its network of Post Offices rather than using the US Mail Service and its network of Mail Offices. I find these word and phrase evolutions from British English to be really interesting. I know, I’m really sad aren’t I! After all today’s exercise I expect to feel the effects in my legs tomorrow as I could definitely feel the muscles getting to the point where they were seriously complaining about five minutes before I got home. I knew that recovery from chemo would take quite a long time but expected to be OK by now, but, still, I was poisoning my body with the ABVD  for six months and it’s not quite four months since I stopped doing so. I suppose I should expect a correlation of at least 1 to 1. The progress is upwards and that’s the important thing. I’m even having to comb my hair these days! I might even need my first haircut in over a year within the next month!

Yesterday I also went to a jobs fair. It was horrendously busy and, for the first time since coming to Florida I had to park the car on the street as there just wasn’t enough parking off-road! My first attempt at parking left me pretty close to a fire hydrant and I was pretty sure there is some legislation saying I shouldn’t do that, so it was off to find a different spot and walk to the hotel where the fair was being held. I signed in and was given a flyer which included a plan of the exhibitors and a list to show who was where. Naturally it showed all the stands but not all the names. From my point of view it was beginning to look like a waste of time with only low-pay part-time work for the most part, or the staff simply gave out pieces of paper saying apply on-line at this web-site, but then I was approached by a man in a suit. He asked  if I had a resume. Naturally I had one. I’d spent the previous evening printing out, squaring-off and stapling 20 of them. I passed one to him and he quickly saw that I was from England. He said he thought I ought to talk to his colleague as I was over-qualified for the jobs on offer at the trade-stand. The second man in a suit arrived and told me he had married into a British family, and then we began to talk about the possibility of employment: he was pretty enthusiastic while pointing out that I would need to obtain a license before I could do the job he thought I’d be appropriate for, and then gave me his contact details with instructions to phone, which I will do on Monday.

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Filed under ABVD, Cancer, cancer treatment, chemo, chemotherapy, fatigue, Job Search

“I don’t think it’s the cancer I’m feeling.”

Those were the words of my oncologist Dr Taché yesterday before the start of my third cycle of chemotherapy. The suggestion is that, perhaps, what Dr Taché was able to feel, is the healing of the incision from my biopsy. It’s difficult not to get excited about the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma has been killed but the reality is we don’t know, and as Dr Taché was quick to point out we need scans to know what is going on. I suppose the lymphoma could have shrunk and be hiding beneath, or perhaps even within the biopsy healing, so at the moment I’m working hard at containing my excitement as I would prefer continuing darkness to a false dawn at this stage.

In the run up to yesterday’s appointment I’d been experiencing both daytime cold sweats and night sweats for the previous four or five nights, both of which I associate with the onset of the cancer and its development from Stage 2 to Stage 2B. In addition I’ve had sore throats and tightness in my chest, coughing when breathing deeply or encountering cooler/moist air. I’ve also been feeling shaky several times a day, and from time I’ve been getting hand tremors: it’s this last which I’ve had most difficulty in accepting with any degree of calmness. So to find that maybe, just maybe, the lymphoma has gone may be a great relief, but only if it actually has. Anyway Dr Taché’s office is now involved in the usual discussions with our health insurance provider to get approval for the scans, and so there’s the tension of will they approve them or won’t they? Clearly time is of the essence as I need to have these scans done and the results evaluated and back with Dr Tache within a fortnight and I know that the last time we went through this it was touch and go. Of the scans the most important is probably the one which will reveal any damage to my lungs from the bleomycin as there is the possibility that the cough etc are the result of damage from that drug. If there is excessive damage then the bleomycin will be dropped from any future treatment – hence the need to get the results before the next infusion. It won’t be replaced by any other drug. The protocol says to just carry on with whatever other drugs are being used so that will be AVD instead of ABVD.

How do I feel about all this? On one level I’m trying very hard not to feel anything in case it turns out that although the lymphoma has shrunk it is still there in hiding, or that the sweats indicate that it has metastasized and we should be looking somewhere else, in which case the treatment may not be working and we might have to change treatment which I think would be a huge blow to my moral. On another level I am desperate for good news. I know that the infusion before this one has caused me to react more strongly than any of the previous ones and I therefore want to believe that it is kicking the lymphoma as hard as it possibly can, but, another part of me thinks that maybe, just maybe, the lymphoma is fighting back and causing the effects rather than them being side-effects of the chemo. I don’t know what to think really. Maybe I’m like a young child on Christmas Eve, knowing I’ve been good all year and hoping that I’ll get that brand new shiny bike from Father Christmas but aware that it costs a lot of money and that not all little boys can get everything they really, really, really want just because it is Christmas.

Fingers crossed!

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Filed under ABVD, Cancer, cancer staging, chemo, chemotherapy, Dr Jason Tache, Health Insurance, Hodgkins Lymphoma

It’s silly o’clock in the morning

Once more I’m reading the blogs about cancer, about chemo and now about oncologists. It’s really surprising to me how different words turn up totally different blogs.

First let me deal with why I’m awake: it isn’t to do with the lymphoma, well not directly anyway. If you’ve read any of my earlier blogs you’ll know that the main side-effect I’m getting is fatigue and a time-shift which Dr Who might well envy! Night becomes morning, morning becomes afternoon and afternoon can become anything. Last night I only got three to four hours sleep but today I felt physically OK so I mopped the floor. Naturally that wiped me out as I’d thought it might do, so around 4.45 p.m. I went to bed for a nap, woke up just before 7 p.m. and here I am now at almost 2 a.m. busily trying to occupy myself. It has to be the chemo, right? What else could it be? I know it’s expected to make me feel tired and fatigued, that’s natural enough when you are pumping chemicals into your body which are really trying to kill it. I mean it makes sense that your body says, “Do we keep him on his feet and running about or do we send the energy to the defences? Defences it is then!” I can understand that, and everyone I spoke to said the chemo will leave you sleeping a lot. But it hasn’t! Is there something in there they didn’t tell me about that acts like an energiser of some kind? I could see that going down a bomb at the Olympics. –

Chemotherapy Patient Beats Usain Bolt in 100m Final 

Naturally this would be followed up by the usual doping tests only to discover that the ABVD drugs aren’t on the proscribed drugs lists for athletes. I guess I’m back in Monty Python mode lol.

Reading the blogs really does me a power of good. There are blogs which make me cry, not really from sadness but just from being overwhelmed by the emotional feelings released in me as someone recounts their story and what they are doing. There are others where people are pretty much matter of fact about everything. There are blogs by the cancer patient’s family. There are even one or two blogs where the cancer patient has had a goodbye posted posthumously and I think that must take great courage to write as well as being a very emotional experience for the family involved in the posting. The thing  which strikes me most though is the humour that runs through them. Nearly every blog has a humorous slant at some point and that’s great. I really think humour is an excellent sign that someone is being positive and we all know that being positive is good for us.

The blogs which give me pause for thought are those which just stop. They seem to end in mid-air almost. There’s nothing building up to them ending, there’s no statement that they are ending, they, simply, cease to progress. I find myself wondering why this might be. OK, we’ll deal with the nasty one first. They may just sit there because the owner died. It’s inevitable that this will happen with some, but there isn’t really a feeling of that having happened. People who have described symptoms and side-effects previously haven’t mentioned anything out of the ordinary and all is going well, so, death seems an unlikely culprit for the majority. An alternative, and much more pleasant, possibility is that the owners recovered, but, once again, there isn’t really a feeling of that sort. You’d think, wouldn’t you, well at least I would think, that if you had the all clear then you might announce it on your blog about how ill you’ve been? So, if there’s no such announcement we can, sadly, probably rule that out too. So what is the truth about these blogs? Did the owners simply tire of the effort required to develop and maintain them or are they some kind of virtual crew for the Marie Celestes of the blogging world?

I’d love to hear what other people think about these.

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Filed under ABVD, Cancer, chemo, chemotherapy, fatigue, Hodgkins Lymphoma

I thought it was all going very well…

If you’ve been reading my earlier entries you’ll know that I’ve just started chemotherapy because I’ve been diagnosed with Stage 2B Lymphoma Rich Classic Hodgkins Lymphoma, which is a great long way of saying I have a cancer. You’ll know also that I was worried about side-effects, not so much hair loss as the decades have already got me to the point where Nature has been letting me see more scalp on a steady basis for a number of years, but I was particularly worried about nausea. Vomiting isn’t something anyone really enjoys is it? There’s something potentially degrading about it. Maybe that’s just because it’s something we tend to associate with too much alcohol rather than a side-effect of a medical cure. Anyway I wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of spending time on the toilet floor hugging the toilet as I understand many people undergoing chemo do, so, I’ve been very pleased, delighted even, that, after the first three or four days of simply feeling queasy, I’ve not felt nauseous at all. In fact I’ve not really had any of the side-effects which can be associated with ABVD chemotherapy. Congratulations to Lisa, my chemo nurse for setting up the right frame of mind by telling me that many people experienced no side-effects, and if she were to go through the list of them with me then I’d be more likely to experience them than otherwise, as a lot of it is “in the mind”. The last couple of days seem to have been a bit different!

Today is Wednesday. On Monday I felt fine until the early afternoon when, for no reason at all that I could identify, my mood seemed to steadily worsen and I began to feel down. Worse than that, I began to feel somewhat bellicose, and, sure enough, I was fool enough to get into an argument which should never have happened, and which was, I’ll admit down to my mood. A few lines ago I said that I began to feel down for no reason that I could identify, well the same can’t be said for my combative mood: I was certain that was down to my feeling tired, and that was a side-effect of the chemo. I was, I think, partly right in this, though that in no way excuses my belligerence. On Tuesday I was exhausted. I mean flat on my back kind of exhausted and I began to realise that what I had been previously passing off as being “tired from the chemo” was nothing in comparison. Since having the chemo my body-clock and biorhythms seem to have been knocked sideways with a sledge-hammer. I’d been trying to fool myself that I was tired from chemo and a good night’s sleep would sort me out, but, the reality is that, I was fighting against the new rhythm my body wanted to adopt. I seem to have moved onto a cycle which sees me sleep for about three hours, wake to eat something, stay awake for about three hours and then go back to sleep again. I think the longest I’ve managed to go without dropping asleep is about five and a half hours. I find it very strange, but I do seem to be adapting to it now, although I do wonder whether it will go away and let me return to a normal cycle once the chemo is done and my body starts returning to “healthy”.

Some of the consequences of this new sleep pattern should be interesting. This afternoon my wife and I have an appointment with our attorney in relation to my application for residency here in the US. If I adhere to the sleep/eat/wake cycle then I may miss a chunk of that meeting. Perhaps more significant is that we have our appointment with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services next week at the ungodly hour of 7.10 a.m. If my sleep/eat/wake cycle continues as it has been then I am likely to be asleep by 7.40! My oncologist cautioned that I should avoid groups of people so the prospect of sitting in the USCIS waiting room where, from my one visit, there seems to be a large throughput of people from all over the world bringing with them bugs and bacteria which, even if I had had some immunity previously, my immune system may well not be able to cope with now, filled both my wife and myself with some concern. Our attorney has spoken to USCIS about this and, because we made the request at an early date, it seems special arrangements can be made for my interview. My wife has the notion that we might have the interview in the car park (sorry, parking lot) which conjured up a mental picture of some kind of Monty Python sketch, with me on a bed in the car park being awakened by, perhaps, Graham Chapman, to answer questions being posed by Terry Jones with my fellow Yorkshireman, Michael Palin, manically scribbling down my answers on a piece of parchment using a quill pen to do so. All of this would be followed by a slow camera pan to John Cleese sitting behind his desk in the parking lot and saying, “And now for something completely different“.

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Filed under ABVD, Cancer, cancer stage, cancer staging, chemo, chemotherapy, Hodgkins Lymphoma, Monty Python