Adding an Emendment

Tuesday started week two of treatment, and now it’s Wednesday so I’m officially  20% done with the radiation treatments, and 29% done with the chemo!

They started a new anti-nausea regimen using a more modern (and expensive) drug called Emend. I have an IV of Emend and an IV of dexamethasone before I get the Cisplatin, then I take one dexamethasone a day (along with the other anti-nausea meds I already had). It’s doing a slightly better job. I’m not nauseaus, per se… just woozy. It feels like a constant case of slight motion sickness. If it persists, I’ll call the chemo NP tomorrow and see if there are any adjustments we can make.


Beyond that, I did the paperwork and made the calls to become a member of the medical marijuana program here in northern California. I found a great dispensary that delivers and, more important, has a very knowledgable owner who can help me figure out what types and dosage I should use. That’s really handy since I know almost nothing about marijuana. I did some research last night, and there are some interesting studies showing that ingested marijuana releases the THC in a form that can actually help shrink or prevent tumors, so I’m leaning toward the edible forms for the moment. Thanks, Mom, for encouraging me to sign up. I think it may be the thing that gets rid of this last bit of nausea for me!

Every week at chemo, I feel so different from the other folks there. Not just different from Jersey Guy (who loudly argues with his daughter, or talks on his cell), but different from everyone. I’m 15-20 years younger than most people, but it goes beyond that. Everyone at chemo has a friend or family member who sits with them throughout the treatment. I sit there, headphones on, immersed in a game (The Legend of Grimrock, right now), and just hanging out in my recliner. I don’t feel lonely–it feels like time I get to have to myself. I spend more time talking and joking with the nurses (who are fantastic, BTW).

Once again, my body is doing me big favors. Say what you will about the nausea, because this is a great trade-off: my blood panels showed normal platelets, white blood cell count, and kidney functions. That means the first dose of chemo didn’t have any noticeable toxicity, and it makes it more likely that I’ll be able to complete the whole cycle. The tingling band on my left arm, it turns out, is probably just a reaction to the IV line, since true Cisplatin neuropathy is always symmetrical. So the bottom line is that my body is handling the chemo like a champ so far. Thanks again, body!

I’m still feeling increasing effects of radiation, on all counts. The tumor is definitely shrinking–still no more pain, and I can’t really feel the pressure of it on the back of my tongue nearly as much. I’m getting the burning in my throat, but I’ll welcome it because the tumor is shrinking. My taste buds are starting to go wonky but that’s OK. I’ll treat food like it’s medicine (which it is for me, right now).

The funny thing is that I’ve notice certain areas under my chin start jumping during radiation. That’s where the one active and the other “suspicious” nodes were located. I asked if that happens a lot and the radiation techs seemed surprised and said no, it doesn’t. It’s probably just a weird reaction to the positioning of my head for the 15-20 minute treatment, but I like to think it’s the cancer cells jumping up and down to try to avoid the radiation beams… and failing, suffering a flaming death. That’s one case where I’m glad to tell something to DIAF (die in a fire)!

So after last week’s little bit of slow down from the nausea and the PEG tube pain, I’m back up and at ’em this week. I’m excited by the progress and eager to see what life is going to be like on the other side of the treatments. I haven’t started writing on that book yet (darn it) but I did figure out how it will open and a style that sounds interesting, so here’s to new beginnings and continued tumor shrinkings!

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