It has been a month since my last post, and I’m d-E-E-E-lighted to report that progress does seem to be recognizable. (Can you guess what series we’ve been watching on PBS this week?) Please take a few moments to re-read the paragraphs from the August 17th post for background.
I did indeed get the first low-dose Taxotere infusion of this new round on August 18th. As expected, the post-infusion symptoms were a combination of my now-persistent abdominal bloating, nausea and stomach gas, added to the usual, similar post-chemo symptoms. A few days later, in some desperation, we sought help from the new pain and palliative care treatment center associated with our NoVA Capital Caring Hospice Facility. (It is not necessary to be committed to hospice care in order to access pain and palliative care professionals.)
“Break-through” pain reduction treatment was prescribed. My goal became three-fold: (1) reduce stomach pain a lot, (2) increase appetite to the point where I WANT to eat again, and (3) begin exercising to stimulate that appetite.
I increased my dose of the transdermal morphine pain-killer, Fentanyl, to 75 mcg/hr, added an appetite stimulator named Marinol, Simethicon for gas, plus Zolfran and Ativan for nausea. And, I continued the chief’s prescription of 1500 mg daily of Metformin and 450 mg, twice daily, of Sodium dichloroacetate to deny sugar to the cancer cells.
Four weeks later, I have just started the second series of three low-dose chemo infusions. Something is already working! My abdominal bloating is now all but gone. My waist size, which had ballooned to 38, shrank back below 34. Stomach pain levels rarely reached above 2 (on a 0-10 scale). The various factors promoting constipation and diarrhea are now in balance. My mental attitude is more positive, and I have regained a sense of some well-being. More foods are not only tasting good, but causing no problems in my digestive system afterwards . (Unfortunately, my weight is still stuck < 140; wine still smells and tastes terrible.) Finally, I have the motivation to sit at my desk and write this post.
It seems we are once again able to withdraw from the “brink”. Since this withdrawal is from a “different” brink (abdominal metastases instead of skeleton lesions), what is the mechanism? Am I getting rapid cancer-killing action from the Taxotere activity and/or the chief’s new treatment regime? Or, am I simply enjoying the very effective masking provided by the Fentanyl pain killer?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I’m very intrigued with the opportunity to speculate. I’ll save that for the next post after I’ve spent some more time researching “retroperitoneal nodal metastases” and their treatment.
Thanks ever so much for all your love and support; it’s palpable and so appreciated.
Heidi and Bob