Chronicle of a Stem Cell Transplant (and on through to the other side)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gone Fishin'...

Well, not exactly, but on a more peaceful note than my last post, I am heading off on another Callanish retreat near Whistler this afternoon. It was a very last minute opportunity, but, of course, I leapt at the chance.

As I have said before, these retreats are no easy feat. It is hardly a week at the spa. However, I consider it a gift and a privilege to be able to have the time and space to reflect on and find meaning in a life that currently includes illness with others who are willing to do the same.

OK, there will be massage, healing touch, art, writing, music and many chocolate chip cookies, but, this is grueling work...That said, I will have no need for camo and combat boots this week (and, really, I'm usually not one for the "battle" language often used in Cancerland, though, sometimes it feels damn good). A cute pair of pj's and some comfy slippers is all I'll need.

On the treatment front, the latest news is that the SGN-35 trial may open in Vancouver at approximately the same time it does in Seattle which would certainly make things easier. My counts have been very low the past few weeks and my hemoglobin was at transfusing level, but I opted not to (I am stubborn about this...I don't like giving my RBCs a free ride in case they get used to the idea, though a little of the "house merlot" would undoubtedly make me feel better).

Yet, alas, none-to-soon, my counts are back on the rise this week, so we decided to try a couple of doses of Dexamethasone (hence the late makes me a little wired), as it is not suppressive, so they could have just a little longer to recover. Then we will reassess and see if we have time to do one more dose of chemo next week.

As I have mentioned, I have to have a "wash-out" period of 4 weeks between the Lomustine (which suppresses blood counts for 6-8 weeks) and the start of the trial, so this waiting is tricky business as we still do not have a definitive trial start date. On the one hand, I am pretty itchy and have had a few night sweats. On the other hand, my alkaline phosphatase and LDH levels have remained low which can be indicative of a slow down in disease activity.

All things considered, I think I'll go with "the other hand." It's better looking anyway.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

So Much For That Idea

Well, I was about to sit down and start complaining about having what appeared to be the flu and then a cold, on top of having low hemoglobin, cancer and (gasp) a hangnail, but that gets awfully tired, doesn't it?

Not to belittle anyone who is, or has ever battled cancer, but I get a bit frustrated with the notion that we with "the Big C" are somehow more wise, more attuned to the sanctity of life than others around us. It seems to ignore the fact that suffering goes on in much of the rest of the world - that many people the world over grasp the concept that life is fragile.

Certainly, a life touched by cancer, or any other of a thousand debilitating diseases, can sharpen the focus on one's mortality, as can a litany of other hurts. Let's face it, there are few of us who make it to adulthood without our share of pain, from losing a parent, to abuse, neglect, addiction, war, or hunger, just to name a few. I am quite certain that those who have endured these hurts know a thing or two about what it means to live.

At times, it just seems as if this whole cancer gig gets a little too precious. I'd prefer we dress it up in camo and combats and kick the shit out of it.