Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Today I had a visit with an oncology nurse - aka How to Have Fun with Cancer. The nurse went over all the things that can happen with chemo. Here it is in a nutshell:
  • I'm getting ABVD, a four drug combination of:
    • Adriamycin. Good news - great at killing cancer cells. Bad news - too much exposure can cause nasty problems with your heart. And if this stuff gets into your body outside your circulatory system it can cause internal burns, damage to tissue, etc. This drug is the major reason to get the central port.
    • Bleomycin. This is the stuff that Lance didn't want to take because of the risk of reduced pulmonary function. Click through on the link to get the gory details on this bad boy.
    • Vinblastine. Effective at reducing white blood cell count and hence useful in going after malignancies that grow from white blood cells. This one doesn't seem to have too many bad side effects.
    • Decarbazine. Bad side effects - sterility, really nasty stuff if you're pregnant, lots of risk of vomiting, fatigue. We'd already retired from the baby business so no problems there. And the latest crop of anti-nausea drugs are apparently pretty good so hopefully that won't be too, too bad.
  • My general good health should really help me get through the chemo. I will undoubtedly be fatigued, nauseous, will probably lose some if not all of my hair, will suffer (hopefully short term) reduced pulmonary and cardiac function. But the fact that I'm starting from a pretty reasonable fitness base should allow me to tolerate it better than someone who was unhealthy to begin with (smoker, overweight, etc.) The flip side to that is that because I am very active and pretty in tune with how my body is feeling, I'll probably notice the effects of the chemo more dramatically that someone that isn't as active.
  • So all that sounds pretty rough...
  • And here's the translation of the title to this post - ABVD - Better Than Being Dead. So when you consider the alternative to this treatment, these decisions become a lot simpler. I'll certainly do all I can do to minimize the trauma the chemo will wrack on my body and hopefully the malignant cells will get completely wiped out by this assault. 
So Caitlyn and I decided today that we would use the phrase BTBD when things look a little shitty. Just chant that a few times to yourself and I think I'll be able to handle the various travails of chemo with a little more motivation.

Susan had another great phrase that I'm using as a mantra - "The only way out of this is through it."

So we're getting ready to get deep into the "through it" part of this. Chemo starts a week from Monday. Wish me luck that my body handles the chemo ok and that the funky cells in my immune system are completely wiped out by the ABVD assault team we're about to let loose.

1 comment:

  1. And we'll add CPCV - Continuing the Prayer and Candle Vigil. Throughout the six months, we will continue with the prayer and candle vigil. Consider this a "positive force for good in the universe" that will be silently assisting you, as you make this journey. - Jim