Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[cancer] Chemo series four, session three

Yesterday was session three of my fourth chemotherapy series. My thirty-third visit to the infusion center since the beginning of 2010.

By any objective standard, chemotherapy is actually pretty boring. You go to the infusion center, they access you with a needle (in my case, via the chest port), you sit in a chair for a while as drugs are infused, then you go home. My current chemotherapy series includes only one drug, Vectibix, although I am also infused with saline, so that's two IV drips. And nothing makes you have to pee like an IV drip. Not even excessive beer drinking. The whole process takes about two hours.

Contrast with my prior chemotherapy series, which required four to six hours in the infusion center and about a dozen drugs administered orally and intravenously, plus a takehome pump that I had to wear for a further 44 hours before it was decommissioned and removed by my caregivers. This current chemo series is a walk in the park.

Still, I have incurable late stage metastatic colon cancer, so it remains sobering.

My oncologist is pretty sanguine these days. Yesterday we reviewed my CEA levels. As of two weeks ago, they fall just under the threshold of clinical significance. I do not find this especially comforting. There is nothing surprising about having a relatively elevated CEA level. It's expected, given my current cancer status.

2013-03 CEA Levels

You can see a year ago I was down between 0.8 and 1.5 with no evidence of disease. That upward trend represents last summer's multi-site, single-focus metastasis emerging. The drop between January and now represents the resection that removed the identifiable tumors from my liver, omentum and diaphragm. But notice how I have not dropped down to the lower level when I was clean. As we're all pretty certain the tumors are coming back — hence me being classed as "incurable" — this is unsurprising. But still discouraging.

I can read my fate in the lines on a graph as surely as any Roman haruspex examining a chicken liver.

I also had an emotional crash last night. Not a crying jag or anything, just a quiet, almost cold meltdown into miserable inertia. It would probably be pathological of me not to crash from time to time over these issues, but that's still a difficult experience. That and a lot of largely psychosomatic fatigue were how I ended the day.

This morning I find myself devoid of wisdom. I'm just here. Thinking and talking. Such is cancer. Such is life.

Tags: cancer, health, personal

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