Friday, December 21, 2012

How about an update?

 These pics to the left are Cam getting ready for surgery to remove the irritating lump in his throat.  That was Oct 24. 

Then the pathology came back to our shock and surprise indicating lymphoma.  We have since learned that lymphoma isn't really 'solved' by surgery.  So if we had some way of knowing this was lymphoma prior, there wouldn't have been any surgery - just the chemo to get rid of it.

But since we DIDN'T know, the surgery is what actually provided the opportunity to find out the irritating lump was cancer.

Of course, the surgery was very much like a tonsellectomy with all the soreness of swallowing that comes with that so Cam lost about 15 pounds right after the surgery - which he is quite pleased about.  He is now hovering around a weight he had wanted to be for awhile.  But he's not allowed to lose any more weight.

So then chemo started on Nov 26, and the 2nd chemo was Dec 17 (my birthday) and I was happy to celebrate it by going to chemo.  Anything that will get rid of the cancer is a good birthday present.

So here we are in the chemo room, rigged out to kill 4 hours.  It is far less boring than you might think.  There is always something going on - machines beeping, meds being changed, nurses in & out asking you stuff.  New chemo patients arriving to your chemo pod & getting quizzed by the nurses - and there is no privacy for that so we hear everything.  Basically, nothing has changed in the chemo room.
I spoke with another patient getting chemo for breast cancer.  Only 34!!!  With 2 young kids!!  This world is going to hell in a handbasket.... 
Cam has said today that he will be happy when these few months are finished.  I don't blame him, either!!  But this IS chemo week when you feel your crappiest, so I imagine he is suffering through constant 'blah' feeling and maybe hangover.  I can't tell you for SURE b/c he doesn't complain much.  So I am asking him regularly how he's doing and usually the response is 'Meh - about as good as can be expected - I didn't expect to feel like a million bucks throught his process'.
I am very proud of Cam and the way he is handling all of this.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Well, here we go again....

You may have noticed a change to the title of this blog....  YUP, add Cam to the mix who has taken the concept of sharing with his wife a little to the extreme.

Cam was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma on Oct 31 and started chemo on Nov 26.  Today he went through Round 2 of 6 chemotherapies.

This has been a very scary journey for me.  WAY more scary for me than going through my own cancer.  I always comforted myself with the thought that my cancer was removed when my breast was removed and all the chemo & radiation after that was 'just for good measure'.

In Cam's case, Lymphoma doesn't get dealt with by surgery.  Since the Lymph system is throughout your body, there isn't much point in cutting one area out as the cancer could be anywhere in the lymph system.  Cam's lymphoma is in his throat and colon.  While having lymphoma above and below the diaphragm is not an ideal situation (of course, I think no one dealing with cancer is really in an ideal situation), we are told that lymphoma is extremely treatable and responds well to chemotherapy.  And we also know that Cam's bone marrow is clear thanks to a very scary test he had done where they drilled a large needle into his hip & removed marrow for testing.

We are also told that studies are showing that lymphoma is NOT as responsive to radiation so they are somewhat phasing that out.  We believe the chemo is working for Cam as he already felt better with less problems swallowing after the first round.

Cam has a somewhat similar regimen of chemo to mine.  He goes every three weeks and has a couple of the same drugs I took.  He is undergoing what they call 'CHOP-R'. 

His next treatment will be Jan 7.  After 3 or 4 treatments, they will do more scans to see how well the cancer has responded to the drugs.  Then they will determine further treatment based on those scans.

Cam has been breezing through all of this with seemingly little stress and has been extremely brave.  I can somewhat relate as I recall not being all that stressed out when I was going through things.  You tend to adopt a 'gitter done' attitude.  And he suffered 'hangover' symptoms like I did the week immediately following his first chemo but then increasingly felt better.  He even ran some flyball the weekend after, but it turned out that was too much as he was pretty much wiped out for Sunday.  So these are the things we learn as we go along.

I was extremely stressed the first month.  Since my own cancer, I have been making specific efforts to reduce stress in my life as I strongly believe stress is a big contributor.  So I recognized that our situation will NOT be helped if I worry myself sick again so I have been taking steps to mitigate the stress.  Massages, counselling, relaxation CDs and deep breathing.  It is working - I am far more under control now than the first few weeks.

Of course, the week we found out that Cam's cancer was also in his colon is the same week that our pet bird got sick.  He got so sick that we had to make the decision to have him euthanized.  THIS was not something we bargained for at the same time of coming to terms with the second circumstance of cancer in our household.  So that certainly added to the stress factor.

But it's slowly getting under control with the help of friends & family.  Thanks to all who have provided pre-cooked & frozen meals!  It really does help take some of life's daily stress away not to have to worry about preparing something.

I have discussed with Cam the benefits of doing a blog.  I found my blog very cathartic and asked if he would consider one.  He is on the fence.  Of course, he is a far different personality to me, but, I really hope he will share his gift with the world - he is an excellent writer and his sense of humour should be shared with the world. 

So depending on what he decides to do about a blog of his own, I will later decide if I will continue blogging about him here.  I think I probably will, since I already mentioned my stress levels and also how helpful my blog was before.  So now that I'm feeling more stress, I think the blog would just be one more way to have an outlet....  Can't hurt, anyway, right?

So, Cam is napping right now as they drug him up with Benadryl on chemo day and I am heating the oven for a turnip carrot casserole....  mmmmm. 

That's the update!