I’m Lucky and Grateful


I’m writing this during chemo, as I sit in the recliner and receive my weekly dose of Cisplatin. I’m actually sitting here with a big smile on my face, feeling lucky and grateful.

Sure, the thrush is back like the smell of old gym socks that lingers even after a couple washes. I’ll be on anti-fungal pills for the rest of treatment, but that’s no big deal.  I’m waiting to see if the yeast is actually resistant to the first drug of choice (diflucan). I suspect it may be, since it returned literally one day after I finished the last pill! Either way, it’s a bump in the road and a small inconvenience compared to where I could be right now.

I’m into week four, and week three is usually where the rubber hits the road. My pain level is low, and this is a time when most patients start on Vicodin fairly consistently. I haven’t gotten mucositis (mouth sores) at all yet, and they usually start by week three. If you have any friends or family undergoing cancer treatment, please tell them about MuGard and get the word out. I believe it’s saving me from one of the worst side effects of head and neck cancer treatments. Most insurance won’t cover it yet, and that needs to change!

I’m still swallowing just fine, and about half my saliva glands seem to still be working. All of the blood work (cell counts, kidneys, etc.) is completely normal even after three weeks of chemo. I’m not even showing the lopsided tan people usually get from radiation (much less any burning).

I believe I owe a lot of this to my doctor’s diligence up front in accurately mapping the tumor areas versus areas to avoid with the radiation. The techs commented on how elaborate my mapping was–modulating the intensity and reshaping the beam something like 12 times over the course of each treatment–and I believe his efforts are paying off.

I know it’s going to get tougher over the next 5-7 weeks as the radiation continues, but I’m feeling both lucky and grateful for the experience I’m having right now.

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