Friday, April 22, 2011

Finding Chemo

Hello everyone. I’ve been remiss in my duties of keeping this blog up to date, and I will remedy that now. My convalescence has been going fairly well. I have been putting some weight back on and also have started some walking! My personal best is about 6 blocks. Not much but a good start. The digestive issues, while still around, seem to be at least manageable for the most part. I get very hungry around lunch time, and can eat well at that time. But interestingly, dinner is not what I look forward to. So lunch is the big meal of the day. So be it.

I was reminded that the plan was to start chemotherapy within 6 weeks of surgery. I was referred to one Dr. Pushpendu Bannerjee, who has his practice in the now well traversed XyMed Building next to Scripps Memorial. I have to say, after clawing my way back to getting my body to some faint semblance of normalcy, the thought of dripping poison into my bloodstream seems a little crazy. But my reasoning mind knows that this is the best option for my long term survival. With my trusted advocate Amy by my side, we entered the office of Dr. Bannerjee. He was generous with his time, answering many questions, and asking many of us. He informed us that the drug of choice is called Gemzar, or, generically, gemcytabine, and how it would be administered. I/we hoped to avoid an IV port, hoping my veins are up to the challenge. I could get my blood tests done at Scripps right here in Encinitas, and would need those weekly, to be sure I qualified for chemo each week. The real issue with Dr. Bannerji is whether I will need radiation. He thought long and hard about this, and admitted that the decision was not his to make. Instead he forwarded me via email 19 pages of abstracts of studies about the effectiveness of radiation in cancers similar to mine. I am to read this, digest it, and then have a meeting with a radiation oncologist in a couple of weeks. So I have my work cut out for me. I really am hoping to avoid radiation. I figure the damaged nuclear plants in Japan have supplied enough as to make it unnecessary to need more. My chemo protocol should get underway in very early May.

I had a wonderful conversation with an old friend/colleague Matthew S, who was very helpful in a lot of ways. Firstly, I had heard that he really liked his oncologist, so I wanted a referral. Turns out the doctor he liked so much is the same Dr. Bannerjee! We also shared the same surgeon, Dr. Bhoyrul! This seemed to endorse the path that I am on. Matthew was also very helpful with some insurance information which seems about to help us immensely, along with other good information. Thank you, Matt, and blessings to your health.

I have not taken any nutrition from my feeding tube since last Saturday, and if I can make it a week, and I think I can, then Dr. Bhoyrul will take it out at next visit. He promises that it is a lot less painful than the drains. I don’t know if I believe him. But it will be the final tube coming out of my body. This would be cause for celebration, if I was celebrating these days. Wish me luck…

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