The Chemo Diaries: Day One

And we’re off! I began in the height of luxury here at the Keck Medical Center in lovely Pasadena on a beautiful Wednesday morning. The sun is shining, my daughter was off to a great start and my wife has cleared the day to keep me company in our five star accommodations. I have a heated, massage-lounge chair and my own hi-def satellite television service, robust Wi-Fi and some decent natural lighting behind me.

The process was supposed to last about three hours and my vitals were looking good. I was very happy to be into the treatment at long last. One cannot move through something without taking the first step. And I cannot get over my incredible good fortune with all of this, from the outpouring of support to the fact that the cancer was discovered at all, much less early enough to do something about it. If I was even a remotely religious person, I would consider this being blessed. As it is, I am happy to acknowledge the fortuitous nature of my life and look forward to using this experience to create something of value which I can share with the world.

Here I am looking quite content with my cup of (truly needed) coffee, a comfy sweater and my computer bag at the ready..

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Ouch! Not really. The nurses I deal with lately are mostly painless.

Okay, not that one guy… but I won’t dwell on that. Of course, the poking isn’t going to end any time soon. From this point on, I’ll be getting stuck once a week for a while, but only for a quick blood draw most of the time.
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And this was me for most of the morning afterward.

Well, my hands were in my lap and I was doing a lot of typing on my tablet or reading or eating lunch or chatting with my wife and various medical professionals. But this is modern chemo, at least as it applies to me. Three bags, with three meds over the course of roughly three hours. I was home with time and energy to spare, including updating this page!
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Now, the part where I have to be active about this for the week is more or less over. I’ve got a slew of appointments to follow up on, mostly setting up times with the nearest lab to get my bloodwork done, but nothing more complicated than that and resting. In two weeks I go in for a follow up with my oncologist and look over the two blood tests I will have taken by then. The next week, I get my second round of chemotherapy. And then, presumably, more blood tests, but maybe not as often. We’ll see. Eighteen weeks of this and I’ll be scanned and re-evaluated if all is going well in the meantime, as it should.

After that point, there will either be a second round of chemo or there will be a maintenance regimen in its place, but I anticipate about six months of these three week cycles. It would be great, of course, if there  were fewer months, and maybe there will be if the cancer beats a quick retreat. I’ll be posting here about all of that, but it isn’t something that can be predicted at this point. All that can be said is that we officially served notice on the unwelcome mutant cells and the process for their elimination from my system has begun.

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