Saturday, July 31, 2010

A longer holiday from chemo

We visited the oncologist yesterday and he listened to my chronicle of woes about the third round of Xeloda. He decided that I should have a top-up dose of Avastin, but not resume Xeloda until the results of my next CT scan become available. The CT scan is on Tuesday, and I have another appointment with him on Friday, so I am hoping for good news then. I will have been off Xeloda for two weeks when I have the scan, so I hope the nasties haven't got worse with this break.

I still cannot eat, except in the morning, so I am loading up the calories at breakfast. I quite like Sustagen, so that is my backup for the rest of the day. I have lost 5 kilos (10.5 pounds) in the past three weeks, so that is a bit of a concern. I am to see a clinical dietician when we go back next week, but I am not sure how that will help. I know the nutritional theory (I studied it at Uni and taught Food and Nutrition for many years) - it is actually being able to eat that is my problem.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Battling with food

I am finding it extremely difficult to eat. Most food is actively repulsive and if I decide I might enjoy something I can usually only manage a couple of mouthfuls.

Case in point: yesterday afternoon I thought I would enjoy an omelet aux fines herbes for my evening meal. So I went out into the garden and harvested a handful of parsley, some thyme and a couple of sage leaves. I don't have tarragon or chervil which are the classic herbs to use with the parsley, but I thought the substitutes would work. I grated a handful of pecorino cheese and chopped some proscuitto. I made Kevin's omelette first. Two eggs, lightly beaten with a little water. Lightly greased nonstick frypan. Cooked the omelet the classical way, but placed a handful of the minced herbs and most of the grated cheese on top before folding it. Garnished it with the chopped grilled proscuitto. He loved it.

Then I made mine. Only one egg, but the same except for the proscuitto which I didn't feel like. Took one mouthful and nearly gagged. I finally managed to force most of it down without incident, but it was a battle.

Today has been a little better. I had a biggish breakfast - a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of cereal, three huge strawberries and a couple of tablespoons of yoghurt with a little cream and full-cream milk. Lots of calories there. Then I had a carton of Sustagen for lunch. I have also eaten almost a whole mushroom from our newly producing farm. I might have a mushroom for dinner - we harvested three huge ones today, including the one at the back in the central cluster.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I didn't get my red car

but I got these from the dealership as a small consolation.

We decided that we really wanted a Ford Fiesta with all its features, and since a six month wait for a red automatic is not really a viable option, we opted for a silver one. We picked it up yesterday afternoon. I haven't really played with all its features, but I am totally wrapt in the Bluetooth connection to my mobile phone. No more pulling off the road to answer a call.

The hand-foot syndrome has improved enormously - I no longer have any pain in walking - but I am keeping up with applying the cream. I have had no appetite for the past two days,but have had some soup and fruit. I hope my appetite will improve as my Xeloda holiday continues.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A grotty couple of days

Wednesday my feet were so painful that walking was almost an impossibility. I decided not to take my morning dose of Xeloda. I rang the oncologist's surgery and the nurse-receptionist said that it was the best thing to do and she would tell the doctor. She rang back later and said the oncologist would ring me later in the evening. So I rested my feet until it was time to go to Haddon's funeral. It was a brief, but moving, ceremony. I wrote the basic eulogy, but our friend Dennis found many more anecdotes to relate. Afterwards we went back to Haddon and Margaret's house where I spent a couple of hours sitting down. I managed one drink, but was unable to eat anything.

After the doctor's call in the evening, when he said that I had done the right thing in stopping the Xeloda and that three days without it wouldn't make a difference and that I could expect an improvement in my feet in two to three days (all of which was a great relief to me) I went to bed without eating any dinner.

Thursday morning I vomited shortly after I got up - first time in a long time - but managed half a bowl of porridge for breakfast. Then it was off to the oral surgeon for the removal of the decayed wisdom tooth. It was done under local anaesthetic and went well. There was no bleeding, so I haven't had to use the special mouthwash. But I felt so unwell afterwards that I went to bed without any lunch for the afternoon. I slept till nearly five, when Kevin got me up because he thought I wouldn't sleep at night. I didn't feel able to eat any dinner and vomited again, but drank a glass of Sustagen about an hour later before going off to bed again.

I slept well, but vomited again in the morning. Breakfast was a couple of spoonfuls of tinned fruit. I had another session of Bowen therapy this morning. The last one certainly helped my hip/leg pain, so she concentrated today on my shoulder. It felt good by the end of the session, but it did last time too. We will see how it goes - I have another appointment next Friday morning.

When I got home there was a letter of appointment for my next CT scan. It is not till August 3rd, so I will be seeing the oncologist before it happens and we won't have any information on how effective the Xeloda has been with the tumours. Disappointing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reaching a century

I noticed when I logged in that this will be my 100th post - unbelievable!

We went to test drive a new car today. I have wanted a smaller car for some time and have it fixed in my mind that it must be red. The first car I ever owned was red - a Fiat 500 Bambino. I loved it dearly and it served me well. In fact, it served both of us well - I sold it to pay for our wedding. So since this will certainly be my last car, I want another red one. We were both impressed by the car we test drove - a Ford Fiesta - and decided to sign up. We knew we would have to wait for what we wanted, but felt 6 weeks wasn't too bad - we had been told there was one on the way from Germany. So we signed up and paid the deposit. Then we were told that the red car on the way had been pre-sold and that it was likely to be a very much longer wait. I was upset. We were informed there was a car in stock that was a colour that was a couple of shades darker than red and maybe I would like that colour. RED? It was a purple that was a few shades lighter than black. I hated it! Kevin saw how upset I was and told the salesman (out of my hearing) why the red was important to me. The salesman said he would do all he could, and if he couldn't get what we wanted our deposit would be refunded and the contract annulled.

Sounds magnanimous, but the consumer law here actually covers precisely this situation. If they cannot supply what we thought we were buying, we are entitled to void the contract and get back any money paid. We will wait and see what happens in the next few days.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Haddon has gone

Our friend Haddon died in hospital this morning at 1 am. He has been in hospital for three weeks (actually since the day I fell and hit my head) fighting fluid in his lungs and a urinary tract infection. We went to see him yesterday afternoon, but he was unconscious, so we have to hope he felt our love and concern through holding his hand. Haddon has been a cancer survivor for six years. He had prostate cancer which metastised to his bladder and bones. He has had numerous rounds of both chemo and radiation, but has managed an annual trip to Bali. He will be missed, especially by his wife Margaret and by his lifetime friends like Kevin who has known him since he himself was 13, nearly 60 years.

I hope I last as long.

The soreness on the outer soles of my feet is still there, but I am getting relief by frequent application of moisturing lotions and creams. The chemist gave us a range of samples to try. I recognise one - Aveena - from various web postings, but it is a lotion and a bit runny. The best one to date is one called QV which is a cream. I have also found that I have one pair of shoes - soft leather which I have had for at least ten years and which unfortunately are almost ready for the scrap heap - which are really comfortable, even more so than the sheepskin slippers. I put on the cream, then socks and shoes and my feet are comfortable all day.

The Bowan therapy seems to have made some improvement of my leg pain. Yesterday I was able to walk quite a long distance from the carpark to the hospital, and then back again,though not without some pain. There is no improvement in my shoulder. I am to have another session on Friday. Also next week I will have my decaying wisdom tooth removed, which should help in reducing mouth infections.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Side Effects

This round of chemo is making me very tired and combined with the leg/hip and shoulder pain that I have had for a couple of months now I am not at all inclined to exercise. I also think that I may be developing foot-hand syndrome as the edges of my heels are very tender and sore. I have been rubbing in a cream that I have found effective with dry hands and it relieves the soreness for a while. I am finding my sheepskin slippers to be the most comfortable footwear.

Tomorrow I am visiting a Bowen therapist. This was recommended by my GP as a possible way to relieve the shoulder and leg pain. Bowen therapy is a form of physiotherapy, but does not involve intensive massage and manipulation. Several of my friends have had Bowen therapy for a range of problems to do with bones and muscles and all agree that the therapy worked well for them.

So I hope to have a positive report tomorrow. I don't know what I am going to wear on my feet though - sheepskin slippers are not a good look!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Xeloda Cycle 3 starts tomorrow

My blood counts were fine and the liver function markers are normal, so I start Xeloda again tomorrow morning. However the CEA is up again slightly, so that is a bit of a worry. We had a look at the full report of the last CT scan. One large liver tumour has shrunk slightly, but the rest are unchanged. One of the "foci" in my lung has enlarged slightly, but it is still unclear whether I actually have tumours in the lungs.

I am to have another scan in a couple of weeks. The scans are supposed to be every 2 months, but the last one was 3 months after the previous one, so the oncologist has brought the next one forward.

I had an infusion of Avastin after my appointment. I don't usually have problems with this drug, but today I felt very cold about halfway through. I was glad I had brought a wrap. Then this evening I have had a nasty dizzy spell. Just as well I was seated at the computer or I might have fallen and ended up in emergency again!

Dara and Bernie have suggested my diarrhea may be due to dairy foods and that it might be a good idea to eliminate them from my diet. The only problem is that dairy and vegetables are the only foods I can tolerate from the taste aspect. Meat is disgusting. So I am not sure what to do.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chemo break

I finished my second round of Xeloda last Friday, having had minimal side effects apart from tiredness, lack of appetite and the shoulder and hip pain which is still bothering me. I was happy that diarrhea didn't seem to be one of the side effects, but I have had a bit of it in the last few days.

I am feeling the cold really badly, so I am grateful that I live in an area with a mild climate. We have just had the longest cold spell since records began in 18something - ten days with minimums below 5 degrees Celsius, even a couple below zero. Yes, I can hear the sniggers from residents of Europe and North America - but we are NOT used to cold. It never snows here, except perhaps a light fall on the ranges in the very south of the State. Today it is not quite so cold because it is raining, and very welcome the rain is. It has been a very dry winter so far.

I have just been to have a blood test in preparation for tomorrow's visit to the oncologist and an infusion of Avastin if the blood counts are OK. I hope to find out exactly what the last CT scan showed, especially in regard to the lung tumours. The oncologist also said last time that he would like another scan sooner rather than later, so maybe he will put that in motion.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Another dentist

I went to visit an oral surgeon yesterday morning. The Xrays I had taken about a month ago show there is infection in my lower left wisdom tooth and at the base of a root canal filling on the lower right. There is no sign of infection at the base of the other root canal which was previously infected - big relief!

After scaring me with talk of what would be involved (procedures and COSTS) if I decided to have the the two root canals redone, he assured me that they were not essential procedures, and if they flared up antibiotics were probably all I would need. But the wisdom tooth was an urgent problem. So now I have an appointment for an extraction next month. It will be done under local anaesthetic and he has prescribed a special mouthwash that will help inhibit bleeding, so I don't need to stop Clexane. Not looking forward to it, but it is a necessity. I will get about half the cost back on my insurance.

I am still aching badly in my shoulders and hips, but have increased my intake of Panadol which is helping. I will finish this round of Xeloda tomorrow evening.