Yesterday my port was removed. I expected to feel different, as it had, after all been a physical part of my body now for more than a year. I have grown used to feeling the bump beneath my skin, of seeing the lump sticking out through my t-shirts like some enormously puffy third nipple on a particularly cold day, and now, it’s gone! Gone just like that. Well not quite so easily as the US health insurance industry threw in a couple of curved balls along the way . Having managed to negotiate all the obstacles placed along the way I have to say that the actual process went by really smoothly from my perspective. The nurses who worked with me at Memorial Outpatients in Hollywood, Marissa, Vivian and Sue were great and kept me amused, while in the OR Dr Eckstein and his team got on with things without me knowing anything about it until I came around. As I said I expected to feel different, this is, after all, a significant moment as the last part of my chemo treatment is removed. Strangely I don’t feel different, I don’t feel elated, I don’t really feel anything about the port going except somewhat sore and a little curious to see whether or not I have another interesting scar to match the one on my neck from my biopsy.
Category Archives: cancer treatment
“the prices of drugs used to treat [chronic myeloid leukemia] are astronomical, unsustainable and perhaps even immoral
Yes, those are the words of doctors and researchers specializing in chronic myeloid leukemia. It seems theyt think this of many of the drugs used to treat cancer but have, probably wisely, decided to comment only within their specialism. Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/business/cancer-physicians-attack-high-drug-costs.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
I was lucky in that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which has a well-established protocol which led to my being cured pretty quickly but I know there are many people out there who aren’t so lucky and who are reliant upon some new drugs or treatment. This link is to Cancer Research UK and gives details of some of the research they are supporting along with some details of the people who are leading the research. I hope it is helpful.
I saw this article on the BBC website and thought it worth putting out to a very slightly wider audience.
It seems that scientists have found a way of injecting white blood cells with a virus which is capable of killing cancer cells in mice. Because the virus is actually contained within the white blood cells it isn’t attacked and so it gets taken to the cancerous tumour which the virus then attacks and kills. Clever stuff eh?
Naturally the scientists aren’t prepared to say that their discovery will transfer to humans and it seems that many times things don’t, and they still need to test their findings on humans so it looks as though any real development is a fair way off.
It’s now some five months since my last dose of chemotherapy and my body and brain are definitely starting to show signs of improvement. For the past couple of weeks my nails have been very fragile and have flaked off around the edges, something they didn’t do during chemo, so I’m convincing myself that this is a consequence of the chemo having worked its way through to my extremities. My hair is pretty much back to where it was before chemo, though, strangely, before chemo it was grey shading to white whereas now it is dark brown though my beard continues to be grey shading to white. Sadly it hasn’t come back any thicker than it was before the chemo. My concentration levels are definitely improving but concentrating hard for a lengthy period does take it out of me. Last week I went for an interview which required me to take computer tests of my abilities in Microsoft Word and Excel. Three years ago I was teaching exactly the kind of things I was being tested on, but during the tests I struggled with fatigue. I spent the week after that working my way through Microsoft’s on-line training and re-took the tests this week with much improved results. The next day I was quite tired and I do wonder how I will deal with a full day’s work when I do get a job. Early nights and weekend lie-ins might be the only way! In the meantime I’m going through the daily grind of job searching: searching emails that bring me literally hundreds of job openings, sorting through them as I try to spot the ones where I can angle my skills, experience and qualifications to make an impact from those where I don’t have a prayer, and then adapting my resume and completing on-line applications. After that it’s a case of doing more internet research to try and find something else and then going through the same process. It is a grind. Enthusiasm wanes. Energy wanes. The search goes on.
On my travels around the web reading about chemo, the consequences of chemo and alternatives to chemo I came across a lot of stuff which I thought might or might not be accurate. The general rule of thumb in these cases is to have a look at the source and if the source seems reputable then I usually concluded that the “science” behind the article might well be OK as well. I’m sure that most people reading this will have read similar articles at some point. Statements such as, “eat this fruit/vegetable as it kills cancer cells”, “eat lots of vegetables as they cure cancer”, “avoid stress as it causes cancer”, “alternative therapies cure cancer”, and so on, and so on, and so on. I was pleased therefore to read this blog from Cancer Research UK this week which puts these things into perspective. Dealing with cancer is tough enough, both for those who have it and their families and friends, without being fed crap by the press. As Cancer Research UK says in the article, it is important to eat a balanced diet which includes fruit and vegetables, but on their own they won’t kill the cancer cells.
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.
This might be useful to you or someone you know.
Just a short note “quote”…
Researchers recently solved the mystery of how breast cancer takes root in the bone. Now, the discovery has led to an experimental drug for breast cancer that has spread to the bone.
At Princeton University, Society grantee Yibin Kang, PhD, found breast cancer cells use a protein called Jagged1 to upset the normal balance of bone builders and bone demolishers. Jagged1 recruits cells that normally break down bone to dig deeper into it. This in turn releases molecules that further spur cancer growth.
“We knew the bone is a fertile soil for breast cancer to spread to. But we didn’t know why. We didn’t know how to make bone less fertile soil,” says Kang, Princeton’s Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis professor of molecular biology. “Now that we know, the next step is to design drugs to break that vicious cycle.”
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