Wow, we are really being tested out here in the West! Like all of you, we’ve been struggling with latest COVID-19 developments. Then in the past few weeks, the Climate fires exploded from Southern California through the Pacific Northwest, prompting evacuations of many towns throughout California, Oregon and Washington. Thankfully, our town of Petaluma remains far from any immediate fire dangers. That said, our air quality throughout the Bay Area this week has been cited as the worst air quality in the world, a severe health risk. As if that wasn’t enough disruption, we awoke Wednesday morning to Mars-like orange skies created by all the smoke in the atmosphere. Mix all this together with an ass cancer battle and you can imagine some of the stress cocktails brewing across Team Crafty. We are so thankful for all our family and friends along with our healthcare and fire-fighting superheroes who are helping us through this unprecedented and difficult time! We are forever grateful for all you do!
Round 41 – Let’s Try That One Again:
A big part of life on the cancer mountain is learning to work with new information as it’s presented to you and adjusting your plans accordingly. I’ll give you a good example and explain how this applies to my current Round #41 effort.
Before each and every chemo infusion, cancer patients like me get a thorough evaluation and an extensive set of tests. In my case we check my vitals – weight, blood pressure, blood-oxygen level, etc. – and perform approximately 15 different blood tests. This sounds a lot worse than it is. Everything’s done from a single blood draw, a.k.a. ‘one sharp stick in the chest’. Then, based on all these indicators we, make our game-time call:
– If all looks good, we proceed with the chemo infusion.
– If something looks questionable, we can postpone and run additional tests.
This process ALWAYS gives me a lot of confidence for two big reasons:
1) because chemo is essentially high toxicity poison, and
2) it’s always good to know your race car is fully ready for the race.
Last Monday, we elected to take the path of some additional tests. We ran CT Scans* and got a very detailed read on my cancer status. (I like to think of blood tests like the dashboard indicators in a car, while CT Scans are a direct look under the hood.)
My CT Scan results look good. We continue to hold my 2 problem areas (liver/lungs) in strong check. So, we will take another run at Chemo Round 41 this upcoming week. In addition, we are making some adjustments to my ‘chemo cocktail’ … AND, this is the big news … Early in the New Year, provided all goes well with Chemo Rounds 41, 42 and 43, I should be moving off chemo into Immunotherapy* treatment. The UCSF Immunotherapy Center has a new protocol that is very promising for my type of cancer. This a very big milestone and it’s exactly what we’ve been working toward over the past 3 years. I’ve shared some information below about Immunotherapy that explains why.
All this continues to reinforce my claim that I am the most fortunate, grateful cancer fighter you know. Thanks for all your support from near and far!
It really, really helps us every day!
We keep rollin’!
*About CT Scans …
Here’s a good explanation of how CT technology works … According to UCSF Radiology: “Computed tomography (CT) is a method of body imaging in which a thin X-ray beam rotates around the patient. Small detectors measure the amount of X-rays that make it through the patient or particular area of interest. A computer analyzes the data to construct a cross-sectional image. These images can be stored, viewed on a monitor, or printed on film.”
From a patient POV, I can share the process is painless and relatively quick. I usually spend less that 10-15 minutes on the X-ray machine, start to finish. The toughest part is drinking 2 small bottles of the tasteless prep liquid, a contrast liquid that lights up any trouble areas on the final images.
This short video from NIH shows how it’s done:
About Immunotherapy …
For the past hundred years or so, we’ve essentially had 3 big tools for fighting cancer; cutting, burning and poison. That’s surgery, radiation, and chemo. Immunotherapy is a new tool that uses the human body’s own immune system to fight cancer. This is land of amazing breakthroughs that was busted open by the work of Noble Prize winning cancer researcher Jim Allison. This information and short video from the NIH explains how it works:
Bonus: Some Tips for Managing “Scanxiety” – It’s a real thing!
This term very accurately captures the feeling medical patients of all kinds experience during that period between your scans/tests and the delivery of results. Fight Colorectal Cancer provides some great guidance for managing it in this article: Waiting for Test Results: 5 Tips to Minimize Scanxiety
Hunkered down safely in the Crafty Bike Cave, September 2020 …
My riding is on hold until our climate conditions clear out here in Northern California.
Be safe and smart wherever you might be too! – MC