Flea’s Cancer Update
I feel rather like a fraud, posting a cancer update. I’m still in some weird stage of asking myself, “Do I really have cancer? Is my experience anything like anyone else’s?” I know I’m not a dog with cancer (y’know, this being a dog blog and all), but I think it’s helpful to write these things out, not only for myself, but for anyone who might be in the same boat. So here’s where I am right now.
A Month Out
It’s been nearly a month since the colonoscopy and the tumor being found. That might sound like a short time, but it feels like forever. I think this is part of my disbelief, the feeling like forever. It’s been a whole month, and I just started treatment yesterday! Let me break down what’s happened in a month’s time.
- Colonoscopy – gastroenterologist found a three centimeter bleeding tumor about seven centimeters from the opening of my bum, referring me immediately to an oncologist, taking several biopsies
- One week later – oncologist meets with us to tell us the tumor is, in fact, malignant, and it’s adenocarcinoma, a cancer found in secreting glands and organs, schedules CT scan
- A week after that (and the CT scan) – meet the oncologist to find that the cancer is stage three, meaning it’s attached itself to the muscle lining of the rectum, and it’s spreading into the lymph nodes nearby
- Meet the radiologist, who does an on-the-spot pap smear (well! That was unexpected!) and gives me a run-down of what to expect
- Head to radiology for the making of the mold of my legs (to stabilize me during ongoing radiation treatments) and tiny tattoos for placement during radiation (no, the tattoos didn’t hurt)
- Pick up the chemo pills, nausea pills and antibiotics
- Yesterday – took my first round of chemo pills at home, then went in for radiation – radiation doesn’t hurt, btw
While a month may seem eternal after a diagnosis, as you can see, a lot has happened in this time frame. I’m pleased with my team at the Tulsa Cancer Institute. And we’re on our way.
It turns out, every cancer and patient is different with treatment. It depends on the cancer type, what stage you’re in, as well as the type of person you are. My oncologist chose the oral chemo, in part, because he thinks I’ll follow directions and be fastidious about taking the pills when I’m supposed to. I have an alarm set on my phone to remind me at eight AM and eight PM Monday through Friday – take those pills!
Also, and I don’t fully understand the reasons, I’ll be in treatment for six weeks. Some people are in treatment for months. Mine is five days a week, taking the chemo pills morning and night, radiation those same days, resting on weekends. Surgery will be scheduled for about six weeks after the treatment ends, to remove what the chemo doesn’t kill and the radiation doesn’t shrink. I do understand the surgery following the treatment, since I’d want to lose as little of the rectum as possible.
Yes, mine is truly the most glamorous of cancers. NOT.
How the Chemo and Radiation Effect Me So Far
And here’s where I feel like a fraud. It’s been a whole month. I’ve been talking about the cancer over on Facebook for a whole month. And it’s only yesterday and today that I’m experiencing anything like symptoms of treatment. Yesterday I had a ton of energy and was starving. Late afternoon, after radiation, I passed out. Then felt nauseous, just uncomfortable. At three AM I woke up nauseous. Not like I needed to throw up, but like I had vertigo in my stomach, which struck me as really weird.
And the tired? Yeah. I’m tired. I asked the tech yesterday, at radiation, if the exhaustion was similar to spending a day at the beach, in the sun. You know how that makes you really tired? She said yes, it was similar. But without the fun of being at the beach. Bummer.
Please, feel free to ask me questions in the comments. I tend to respond personally, via email. I’ll answer any question I’m able to. The whole point of me writing about it so publically is so I can share what I know and experience. Prior to my diagnosis, I knew next to nothing about cancer. Just know that every experience is different, but that there are some similarites.
No, I’m not giving away cancer. You wish. Cancer is like Christmas, with all the cards and gifts. But the in-laws never leave. Yeah, it’s like that. No, I’m giving away some of the best dog treats on the planet. Check it out:
Click on this sentence and a new tab will open with the giveaway post – just follow the instructions there to enter to win. Your dog will thank you. Naturally.
Spreading the good chews …