To: Family & Friends

Date: March 22, 2013

Subject: First Treatment

This was originally an email written to my family and friends on the date above. I decided to make these public in the event they may be helpful to someone in the future who is embarking on a similar journey to mine.

Hi Everyone–

On Monday I had my first chemotherapy treatment. I’m still on the every-other-week FOLFOX regimen, with the addition of Avastin (which will start on the next treatment). I will have 4 treatments, then a PET scan to see if the treatments are working. If they are, I’ll continue through a full 12 treatments (6 months); then we’ll figure out what’s next. It could be more chemotherapy treatment, surgery, a break – it’s very open-ended at this point.

Treatment day looks something like this:

– Arrive 2 hours before treatment (7:30-8am), have a needle poked in my chest port and get blood work done.
– Meet with the doctor to review blood work results – make sure I’m still within normal bounds.
– Take anti-nausea drugs and steroids.
– 2-3 hours of IV chemotherapy.
– Attach the “pump” that delivers the 3rd drug over the next two days and head home.

The pump is about the size of a tall beer can and is connected to the port via a ~4-5 ft long tube. I was imagining a battery powered device with a motor, but it’s actually a hard plastic bottle that contains a ballon filled with medicine. There is a regulator on the tube that keeps the medicine flowing at the proper rate while the balloon pushes it out. No moving parts, no batteries, no noise – pretty impressive. Here’s a picture:

http://flickr.com/gp/alexkingorg/a2um5e

During the day I carry it around in a very stylish fanny pack they provided. At night, I tuck it near my pillow and remember not to get out of bed without taking it with me.

From what I understand the effects of chemotherapy are cumulative, so this first treatment should have been the easiest/smoothest. That said, it was manageable. The first day there is little fatigue because the steroids offset it. The anti-nausea drugs did their job, and I didn’t feel too bad. By Thursday, I was able to stop the anti-nausea drugs. I’m very glad to have a “tolerable” baseline to work from.

I still have a little discomfort from the port installation procedure, but I think that by next week I’ll probably feeling normal-ish again, as I’d hoped. I initially lost 25-30 pounds during the surgery and hospital stay, and I’ve gained a good part of that back. I’m now only 12-14 pounds shy of my pre-surgery weight. I’m looking forward to exercising again next week and working on my range of motion so I can make a full golf swing again. :)

I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to be back in the office working on projects on my “off” weeks during treatment – we’ll see how that goes. I’ve been told by *everyone* to listen to my body and not overdo it, and I will – but when I am feeling good I want to take advantage of that too and do as much as I can.

I’m extremely thankful and grateful for everyone’s notes, cards, prayers and kind wishes. It was a treat to have my parents in town this past week and we’re looking forward to a visit from friends next week as well. Thank you all for your support.

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