Sunday, October 7, 2007

Heading into my final week of Chemo

As I prepare to head into what I hope will be my final week of chemotherapy, I am surprised at a couple of things. First of all, it has only been 6 weeks so far. That seems like such a short time, but looking back on my experience, it feels like much longer. It seems as though I have been going to the cancer center for years. Of course, the daily blood thinner shots for the past two weeks have not helped that impression. In reality, 6 weeks is not long - and if this is indeed my last week, it will have only been 7 weeks of chemotherapy. That really is not long at all.

The other thing I have been surprised by is how badly I have felt this past week. At the end of my first cycle, I was feeling almost back to normal. I felt fairly good as I started into my second cycle. I thought that this week would be similar - but I was mistaken. I kept thinking I would feel better, and would get back to normal (almost) before starting my last cycle, but it never happened. As a matter of fact, there were a couple of days this past week when I could not clear my head all day - I woke up feeling drugged (although I hadn't taken anything except Tylenol), and simply couldn't get out of that "groggy" state all day. There are hours of those days that I cannot remember - I believe I fell back asleep.

So, I am not very optimistic about this coming week. If I am feeling this weak now, I expect that I will start to feel the effect of the chemo this week much faster than I did before.

Some friends have told me of the relationships that they made as they went through treatment, and how they heard stories from others about their experiences. I am really not a very social person, and am much less so these days, so I haven't talked to many of the others in treatment. I have gotten to know the nurses quite well, but not the other patients. I usually try to find a chair in the back, close to the network connection, and stick to myself. My wife is usually there for the treatments, and we talk - if I am not sleeping.

The other thing I am not looking forward to this week is getting stuck with a needle every day. My PICC line was removed due to the blood clot, and since I only have one week left, it didn't make any sense to try another one in the other arm. And we know from the first cycle that my veins won't handle two days in a row (my arms still have evidence of hardened veins from the I/V 6 weeks ago). So, I will just get a new I/V in a different vein everyday this week. Dang.

On the positive side, the doctor did tell me that my blood test showed decrease in the cancer markers, which is the only indication thus far that the treatments are working. A few more weeks and we will have a much more definitive test. Until then, I have one week of chemo, and then try to get back to normal.

3 comments:

Pete Abilla said...

I'll be thinking about you this week. I wish you and your family the best.

I'm curious: what symptoms did you notice, or what led you to see a doctor that eventually led to the diagnosis of cancer?

Anonymous said...

Ken:
We all wish you well and pray that the treatments work.

I'm sorry to hear that you're not feeling so well during this last round and hope that you will soon.

I shudder at the thought of all those needles (I'm deathly afraid of them myself) and I'm so sympathetic for you.

I can only imagine how nerve-wracking and frustrating this experience has been, but you seem so optimistic in your blog and that's very refreshing.

I hope you continue to keep your positive perspective in these trying times.

Best of luck and all our prayers,
Amanda Bills,
UTC

Ken Knapton said...

Pete: The only symptom I had was an enlarged testicle - one simply grew larger than the other. There was no pain, and no other symptom of any kind. At first, I thought it would go away. After a couple of months with no change, I finally decided to talk to my doctor. He immediately sent me to a specialist, whose first comment was "this feels like cancer". And so it began...