TAS Round One Done

I have completed the first  round of Lonsurf, aka, TAS-102.  Well actually it’s a 28 day cycle, with imbibing the poison, er…, I mean “medication” done in the first 14 days. So I’ve consumed the first round dosage and I’m currently just sitting here letting it fester. Hopefully it is tearing the tumors to shreds. God knows I’ve been doing my part by consuming some very fine wine the past two weeks, got to take good care of my TAS.  

This is my first experience with chemo pills and it’s kind of eerie. The instructions advise me to take 2 each of two different pills twice a day (am/pm) within an hour of a meal. So far, no problem. Then the scary stuff  begins. The directions stress the toxicity of the pills, keep them away from children and cats. It gets worse. I am to keep the pills isolated from all other medication. I am to wear latex medical gloves when handling the pills and clean all surfaces that come into contact with the “medication.” Yikes!!  And I’m ingesting this stuff?  Don’t let anyone even touch these pills, now swallow four of them!

Fortunately Lee came to the rescue with pretty blue latex gloves for me to wear and a politically incorrect recipe box in which to store the two vials of “medication.” The recipe box was my mother’s from my childhood. At least it is the appropriate color for DANGER.

So far I have tolerated the medication pretty well.  Side effects have been minimal and my blood work is well within the normal range. My numbers will probably dip a bit more, as the side effects of the drug peak in a few days, but I should still be within normal as I have plenty of margin to work with.  

Last week we had a visit from one of the local hospice providers.  As you know, hospice is one of the tools in our toolbox we may use to extend both the quality and quantity of my life. We want to stay ahead of the curve so we arranged for an information meeting. The hospice nurse was aware of my book. We talked about it and she told us she wished she had spoken to me a day earlier as it would have helped her with one of her clients. She purchased a book from me and asked me to sign it.. Jimmy’s first book signing!

After focusing on my book, I’m back painting and should have some outstanding, or is it outlandish, works to show you on my next post.  Regarding my book, I’ve had great feedback and some stellar reviews, thank you.  (Unfortunately I cannot divulge the amount paid for 5 star reviews as I’ve signed a non- disclosure).  If you’ve read the book and liked it, please give little Jimmy a 5 star review, it helps. And please spread the word.  

Those of you that have read my book know that I wear a virtual cape whenever I visit my oncologist. Well my friend Mark Portrait thought that I should have a real cape to wear.  Thank you Mark!  It is a stunning outfit when matched with my favorite T-shirt.


A Star is Born

Three months in the making, the greatest book in the history of Jim Asbell has been published!  OK, OK…true it’s the only book Jim Asbell has published, but let’s not get dragged down with all those details. It is without doubt, his best!

As you know I have been battling stage IV colon cancer for 14 months. In the process of writing this blog I have had a couple of oncology nurses ask me if they could share my blog with some of their patients, which delighted me. I have received numerous comments about my upbeat attitude, bravery, strength, blah, blah, blah.

While I sincerely appreciate those accolades, in my opinion I am not exceptionally brave or strong. The difference between me and many other patients with a similar diagnosis is that I have developed over the course of my life a thought process that enables me to fight my disease while still enjoying life. This past year has been a wonderful year for me, in spite of the impending doom. Life isn’t just about surviving the storm, but also learning to dance in the rain.

My goal in writing this book is to share this process with others, so that they too can maximize their happiness for the balance of their lives. The book is available on Amazon in both an e-book and paperback.  

Here are the thoughts of a fellow stage IV colon cancer patient regarding my book: 

I really, really liked it. I learned a whole lot about you, about me, and about wrestling with stage 4 cancer.  I didn’t realize how your struggle with chronic disease has been such a big part of your life. I was moved by the other challenges thrown your way—regarding your family, your string of foster parents, your difficult first marriage. Your “tests” just kept coming and like Job you surely wanted to shout out at God, “Why ME?” and “Why me AGAIN?” and “Oh, no, not AGAIN!” But you showed me the good to be got in tossing such stuff in the Fuck Bucket. and wearing the cape that is woven with resiliency threads. You’re wise, but—first of all—very strong. I am going to learn to get better at wearing a cape of my own weaving….  I am by nature a worry-wort and a fretted. I am semi-pro at “What if’s.” I need a fuck it bucket.  And, Jim, your book is beautifully written and fun to read. You have a great way of inserting humor into situations that don’t inspire it. It reads like a really well written book. It is a really well written book.”   John McGean, Stage IV cancer survivor.

A portion of the book proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. If you read the book and find it helpful, please write a review on Amazon. Thank you!!!

Jimmy Keeps His Nose!

You may recall that three weeks ago I shared the news that several of my chemo drugs had nearly destroyed the mucous lining of my nose. If left unchecked it would result in a perforated septum which would cause the cartilage to dry out leading to the collapse of my nose. I immediately discontinued using the offending chemo drugs and began a four times a day topical treatment. However, the last ten days or so I noticed a burning sensation in my left nostril. Was this the beginning of a perforation? The other day we saw the ENT doc and he was very pleased with my progress and doesn’t need to see me for six weeks. The burning sensation was just some minor irritation and nothing to worry about.  Jimmy gets to keep his nose and doesn’t have to go plastic surgeon shopping!!  Lee and I decided to celebrate and dined at a James Beard award winning restaurant, Pizzeria Bianco.  Oh…was it gooooood.

Jimmy is excited! He gets great Italian food and gets to keep his nose, and what a fine nose it is.

It’s been nearly a month since I have had any chemo and I feel great. Can’t have that, so it is time for more chemo. Today I started my TAS-102 (clinical trial name), the brand name is Lonsurf.  This drug has only been available for 9 months, so no one really knows how it will affect me or if it will kill the tumors. There are educated guesses for sure, but guesses nonetheless. With TAS-102 the guesses are less educated since there is less data from which to make their guess. There are the common chemo side effects, but the big one is the assault on the immune system. Risk of infections are high because it impacts the production of white blood cells.  Transfusions, as well as excessive bleeding, are another common side effect since TAS-102 often has a drastically adverse effect on the platelet count. I have alerted my awesome immune system of the impending attack.  As of yesterday my white blood cell count was a solid 8,100 and my platelet count was a battle ready 497. Interestingly my CEA cancer marker dropped again down to a NORMAL level with no chemo for over three weeks.  Hmmmmm….maybe I should just stop this chemo nonsense and see what happens?  Of course the CEA marker is not a definitive indicator, just like a PSA for prostate cancer is not a reliable indicator.  It’s all guesses, I guess I’ll just try TAS and see.  At least I’ll provide some data for future guessers to use.
One of my artist friends, Mike Spanopoulos, suggested that the Tasmanian Devil we posted be Jimmyizied. Good idea Mike!  Below is the Jimmy TAS. Instead of brown, he is a more powerful green and yellow combination infused with Oregon Duck magic.  Instead of a regular dust trail, it is Zinfandel dust.  He holds a bottle of “Die Cancer” poison to get the job done and a bottle of “Jimmy’s Good Stuff” for nutrition…he must stay strong for the fight!

Go get ’em TAZ, take no prisoners!

And now for a different topic. I sincerely apologize for my last post if I alarmed or distressed anyone by using the “H” word. The “H” word being “hospice.” As Ricky Ricardo would say, “Let me splain.”  From the beginning of this blog I vowed not to chase rainbows and to keep it real. Hospice has been part of the plan from the beginning. Studies show that the quality of life is better and the QUANTITY of life is longer if hospice is begun sooner rather than later. My goal is to live life to its fullest as long as I can. The plan is to begin hospice when there is no longer a good option for treatment, by that I mean treatment that will do more good than harm. No chemo will cure me, at best it is a way to buy time. Bad chemo can kill me before the cancer can, so prudent choices are in order.

I have not given up. I am hopeful that Lonsurf will work and extend my life. If it’s not working, then I can extend my life by discontinuing the poison and move onto hospice care.  I can change my mind and go off hospice if a better offer comes along, like a good clinical trial.

In the meantime we will continue to look for immunotherapy trials. We have recently come across several new and exciting developments in immunotherapy for colon cancer. We are hopeful for  opportunities before the end of the year. 

My greatest fear, dear reader, is that my legions of supporters may think of me as a dead man walking and avoid me because they don’t know what to say, or feel that I am too ill to have any fun. Not true! All comments, questions, thoughts and feelings are welcome. I have no secrets and both Lee and I are doing okay. Jimmy is still the same goofy Jimmy.