Monday, November 9, 2015

Time off for bad behaviour

Chapter 12 - a welcome break between cycles 4 and 5

Today I went to the clinic for my pre-infusion check-up and to my delight my symptoms [exhaustion] have been bad enough that, again, I get to have a one-week delay and indeed more than one week off from chemo drugs. Hurray!

Other cancer news... I had a second CT scan during cycle 3, and heard the results today. The purpose of the CT scan was to try to measure the progress of the cancer. Some people have cancers markers that can be measured weekly (e.g. the concentration of something in the blood), but I was told in the first couple of months that I don't have any markers, and the cancer didn't really show up at all on the first CT scan, so there was little expectation that the second CT scan would give much information. However, three things did show up:
a) the elasticity of the stomach has changed; in scan 1, the stomach didn't distend when I drank the obligatory 4 glasses of water; in scan 2 it distended much more. This is deemed a promising sign of the chemotherapy working as intended.
b) the lymph nodes that showed up enlarged in scan 1 are a bit smaller in scan 2.
c) there is a new secondary in a vertebra in my spine.
So, a 2-1 score, overall.

Other non-cancer news... We were privileged to have two memorable movie-nights-out: Last night we went to London for the UK premiere of HUMAN, the awesome new film by Yann Arthur-Bertrand [a big thank-you to Nanny for baby-sitting all day!]; and a couple of weeks ago a local Cambridge start-up [FeatureSpace] invited us to the Cambridge premiere of Spectre. Fun!

Yann Arthur-Bertrand presents HUMAN Ramesh and David dressed up as Bond girl and Bond

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The fourth cycle of chemotherapy

Chapter 11 – Mid-way through cycle 4

Cycle 3 finished without any problems, except for ongoing pain in the infusion vein in
my left arm. Sometimes the thought that I voluntarily connect my vein for several hours to a plastic tube passing litres and litres of chemicals strikes me as terribly odd and queasy-making.

Cycle 4, right arm.

Today is day 11.
This time I haven't had much in the way of runny noses and coughing, but feeling-weak-and-washed-out has lasted much longer than the canonical "first 4 or 5 days" that I was hoping for. I feel breathless and exhausted when I walk up two flights of stairs. It's a lot like when I had anaemia (a few months ago) but going by the blood test I had 14 days ago, I think it is unlikely that I'm anaemic. Presumably the whole body is just being successfully beaten up by the chemo. My leg muscles ache as if I have got sports injuries in all of them.

I've been keeping myself busy (1) giving one lecture for a new MPhil course in the department;
and (2) working with other local parents on The Campaign for Safer Cycling
and Walking to and from the North West Cambridge Development
I have made five youtube videos and learned how to put them into a playlist.

I've been using Facebook and Twitter, and our Petition has gathered over 300 signatures, including roughly 100 from University members.

I've been a bit manic about this campaign, and haven't rested enough. Today I stayed in bed all day.

So:  last cycle I kept my mind off cancer by working on the climate-cooperation Comment in Nature, which seems to have fallen on deaf ears; this cycle, I kept myself busy by campaigning for Cambridge University to actually build decent walking and cycling links, like it said it would do in its grand fluffy sustainable plans for the development. I've probably overdone it a bit. I don't have much oomph in my tanks. But I am optimistic that Cambridge University will hear our message and do the right thing.  If they don't then I genuinely fear that one of the children at the new University of Cambridge Primary School is going to be killed on Huntingdon Road.

As day 11 gives way to day 12, I find I have a steadily growing sore spot on my lips.
Tomorrow I will go to see my GP and ask him if all this aching body stuff is
normal, and is there any way to stop my lips from falling apart?

Then on day 13 I will put on my gown and will go to the Senate House to make
a "remark" at a "discussion".