Just Ducky

On my last post I noted several of the side effects of 5-FUc.  One of the most bothersome for me is foot and hand syndrome or, for those in med school, palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia.  It results in soreness, pain, split skin..fun stuff.  This can be counteracted with topical creams.  However the friction between my crutch handles and my sore hands significantly amps up the effect for moi.  The solution is to wear gloves when using my crutches for extended jaunts.  So what kind of gloves should Jimmy procure, one may ask.  Of course DUCK gloves is the answer! 

Jimmy all DUCKed out, flashes the O sign…Go Ducks!

This week has been a little rough.  On Sunday evening, while enjoying the Super Bowl, I began having chills, headache and nasal congestion.  Uh oh.  Monday it was much worse, Tuesday a little better and got better throughout the day.  Today I felt almost normal.  It it wasn’t for the fatigue due to my lack of sleep over this period, I probably would have felt nearly fine today. I’m looking forward to a good nights sleep tonight.  

I was scheduled for chemo today and was anticipating that it might be cancelled because of my flu bout after my meeting with Dr. P.  Well surprise for me, my beat up old body is like the old Timex watch ads, “takes a licking, but keeps on ticking”.   In looking at my blood work report, I discovered my white blood count doubled as my body marshaled its forces to attack the intruding infection.  A big danger for cancer patients is that the chemo distresses the immune system diminishing its ability to fight off infections.  Mine seems to be working fine, along with my kidneys and tumor infused liver.  I continue to feel blessed in this fight. Dr. P proclaimed me good to go and off to the chemo suite I went.  Another bit of good news is that my CEA dropped a touch down to 3.4, basically within the normal range.  The past 6 weeks have been around this number indicating that there probably is not much tumor activity.

One day cancer treatment will be able to unleash our immune system to attack cancer, just as it did my flu infection.  Right now, since cancer is an internal mutation and not an external infection, our immune system ignores cancer cells.  Immunotherapy is the future, it will be nice when I can instruct Jimmy’s white blood cell army to carpet bomb the mutant cancer cells, the jihadists within my body. I just need a little more time and the cure will be here, I can see the goal line.

Speaking of CEA numbers, this morning I read an interesting blog about “the number”.   The blog, Adventures In Living Terminally Optomistic, is penned by an oncology research scientist who also happens to be a Stage IV colon cancer patient.  The subject of today’s blog was the CEA number. The power and fear this number has over patients.  Even though he knows  very well all the limitations and margin of error of this report, he still finds himself putting too much focus on “the number”.  Fear is a very powerful emotion. Stage IV patients know that the course of the disease can quickly turn, success is all too often temporary as the cancer mutates to counter treatment.  The CEA number is far from definitive, only one indicator, only part of the equation. But it is The Number.

And now for something completely different. Please meet Jack. Jack is a legal scholar living in Chicago. For several years he had been mentoring his human as she works on obtaining her legal degree. Of course by mentoring, he is referring to sitting on case studies as she tries to read them and walking on the key board as she types.  Thus teaching his human patience and prioritizing….always pet the cat!  Important skills for all lawyers. 

 

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18 thoughts on “Just Ducky

  1. We will all be happy when the crud gets out of QC! Cough, cough. Interesting to read about the numbers. Our lives are ruled by numbers, years, time, money, age. Numbers make it hard to live in the moment….always comparing, figuring, thinking. But, I am glad your numbers are going the right direction!

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  2. duck gloves! brilliant. happy they help. an oncology research scientist with stage 4 colon cancer. wow. what impressive credentials for authoring a believable blog. what beautiful blue eyes Jack has. hope you have a good night’s sleep.

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      1. we go next Tuesday, feb. 16 and come home late on feb. 24. the trip home is not fun. we leave Honolulu 10:30 pm on the 23rd but with long waits in Portland and Atlanta and Newark, we get to Ithaca 9:30
        pm on the 24th. ugh, but it’s worth it.

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  3. Hey Jim – always happy to see your updates and glad to know you got through the flu (or whatever) bug ok. Also, way to go on “the number” holding steady. Your new painting of Mr. Jack has to be one of my favorites. Well done! Hang in there and know that prayers are with you for continued strength, perseverance and good humor! Blessings, Lynn Maier

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  4. Happy to hear you’re feeling better and were able to have your Chemo treatment. Also happy to meet “Jack”. It’s a beautiful painting. Stay well, Sandi

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  5. Damn numbers! Have you read about “phages”? They’re like minute soldiers that parachute into the body, poking into bad cells and changing their DNA…something like that. That’s what you need!
    I love Max the cat. 🙂

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    1. Phages therapy is used to treat bacterial infections such as bubonic plague and cholera. So won’t help little Jimmy, but immunotherapy would.
      Immunotherapy was used on jimmy carter and got rid of his brain tumors in 2 months. Cancer is really over a thousand different diseases and each one is different. Right now they can use it on melanoma ( which Carter had, it had spread to his brain) and lung cancer. But still only works for about 25% of patients depending on genetics. But it is the potential cure. chemo is not a cure, only treatment which eventually runs out of gas. They are working on colon cancer and are having some success in trails, but due to genetics, only about 10% of patients are candidates for treatment. I had genetic testing and it eliminated about half the potential chemo drugs from my menu.
      Probably more than you wanted to know! Sorry!! But there is a lot of progress, they’ll figure it out I just have to hang around long enough to take advantage. So far, I’m doing way better than most patients…especially when You factor in the fact that I am restricted from using the latest chemo due to my genetic profile and my history of polio. My doctor is very pleased and surprised with my progress.

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