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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Back in the Infusion room, but it was a good day

Today was the first day of my  new round of chemotherapy to try to shrink the  liver tumor that  metastasized from  the original rectal tumor. When  I finished up the  eight  FOLFOX plus Avastin treatments  in September a CT scan showed that the liver tumor had actually shrunk while on that regimen, but it grew while I was   receiving chemoradiation for the rectal tumor in November and December, so the tumor seems to be quite chemo sensitive. The oncologist wanted to get me back on chemo  as soon as possible to shrink it back to a size amenable to ablation. Since the rectal tumor has shrunk to almost nothing and seemed stable, the  colorectal surgeon also saw the liver mets as a major problem, so they decided to delay surgery and go after the liver lesion with chemotherapy again.

Low white blood cell counts had been the major side effect of the  Folfox  treatments, which delayed  a couple of rounds last  spring and finally ended up with my having to take Neupogen shots between treatments to raise the counts. That was not much fun! The Oxaliplatin also causes quite a few nasty side effects, including  neuropathy in your hands and feet, which I got but it wasn’t  a major problem. This time, I’m getting the FOLFOX without the OX- just the fluorouracil (5-FU) and levoleucovorin (Fusilev),  no Oxaliplatin.  But I am getting the bevacizumab (Avastin) along with them.

It was 24°F when we left for the clinic this morning!  The wonderful Mr. G had braved the cold to start the car a little earlier so it was nice and warm inside. We needed to leave during rush hour to get there in time, and were afraid we’d run into traffic congestion, but it didn’t happen and we were actually fifteen minutes early!  I was weighed, had my blood pressure checked, gave a urine sample and had some blood drawn for testing. My blood cells, both red and white, were high enough to begin the treatment, thank goodness! There weren’t many patients in the infusion room and I was able to pick my favorite chair with the most essential amenities: close to an end wall with a plug for my Kindle recharger, and the chair closest to the bathroom. 

I settled in reading a book on my Kindle and got all cozy under my blanket as the infusion nurses hooked up the IV tubing to my port and began infusing. The first IV bags hooked up contain drugs to lessen the effects of the later drugs: dexamethasone, a corticosteroid that is an anti-inflammatory that acts to reduce swelling, prevent allergic reactions, treat nausea and stimulate appetite in certain cancer patients. Then come the anti-nausea drugs, palonosetron hydrochloride and Fosaprepitant dimeglumine (Emend).  Last, they hook up the Fusilev, then the Avastin. When they have dripped out , the nurse  injects a  syringe filled with   5-FU directly into the  port catheter tubing.  This is called a bolus injection and  is a booster for the 5-FU   infused via the portable pump for the next 46 hours. Once the portable pump was hooked up, I was all finished, got the card for my next appointment in  2 weeks and was on my way home, feeling pretty good but became very tired as the chemo fatigue hit. In fact when we got home today there was a package on the porch, but I was too tired to open it.  I headed straight for the bedroom and took a nice long nap. Agatha and Patches joined me on the bed and hogged my covers.

The birds had emptied two of the feeders while we were gone, and  some of the   plants had dried out as the sun heated up the  greenhouse. When I woke up I actually felt perky enough to  refill the  feeders and water some plants. And I checked the package that had arrived.
It was  Kitchen Gadgetry! As you may know, the wonderful Chef’s Catalog closed up shop after 36 years.  Before they   did, I bought a couple of things at terrific prices in their going out of business sale. That’s what was waiting for us on the porch.  One of the items was  a 5.5 inch Zwilling Pro Ultimate prep knife, described thusly by Zwilling:
“This amazing prep knife will become the go-to knife in your kitchen. It excels at a multitude of tasks—peeling and chopping vegetables and fruit, slicing meats and cheeses, butterflying chicken breasts, deveining shrimp and much more. The well-designed blade allows for plenty of knuckle clearance when you’re chopping on a cutting board yet is small enough for in-hand paring tasks, such as peeling and trimming apples and potatoes. Cooks with small hands will appreciate the compact size of this versatile knife.

The user-friendly ZWILLING Pro prep knife was created by renowned Italian designer Matteo Thun and made in Germany by ZWILLING J.A. Henckels, the company that sets the standard for exceptional cutlery worldwide. It features a unique curved bolster that supports the professional grip, with thumb and index finger on the blade, for safe, precise cutting and less fatigue. The redesigned blade has a broader curve in the front to facilitate the rocking motion of Western cutting, with a straight back that’s ideal for Asian chopping. The full length of the blade can be used when cutting.”

What cook with small hands could resist such a wonderful tool?  Not this one!
I also bought a set of utensils, but more about them later.  All in all, it was a pretty good day. And I got more good news- the foundation that helped with my chemo co-pays last year is out of funds for colorectal cancer and couldn’t help again, but the patient financial counselor at the clinic had submitted my info to another foundation and they DO have funds, and approved me for co-pay assistance. What a relief that is!

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