• Karen

Chemo cycle 12 started, recent instability, and a support group

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

A hawk that recently visited my parents' watering bowl, next door

David continues to soldier on with his chemo regime. Yesterday he had his12th IV chemo treatment, which was the same as for the previous cycle (Herceptin only, with the exception of some extra fluids due to dehydration from what I explain below).

This past week, an unusual intestinal issue arose. I won't go into all the gory details, but David has had continual diarrhea (even during the night, so his sleep has been very interrupted), low grade fever, and "intestinal sloughing," which is when the mucosal lining of the intestines is sloughed off. Dr. Brooks and Dr. Oh have done several tests and suspect the cause is Clostridium difficile (aka C. diff), which is a common side effect of cancer and chemo for many reasons, one of which is patients' immunocompromised state. They started David on two antibiotics last night, Bactrim and Flagyl, which we hope will get things under control soon.

On a more positive note, we recently heard about a cancer support group in our housing development that meets once a month. A retired oncology nurse, Laura, who is a breast cancer survivor, leads the group. We attended our first meeting, which was attended by six others: Laura; her husband, who is a prostate cancer survivor; a woman who survived mouth cancer; a woman who is a breast cancer survivor; a man who survived several types of cancer; and a man who is currently battling a recurrence of prostate cancer.

We got to hear the stories of the survivors, and it was encouraging that they survived even though most of them battled cancer a number of years ago without the benefit of the latest cancer drugs. We’re not aware that any of them had stage 4 cancer, though. Because it was our first meeting, Laura asked David to discuss his diagnosis and treatment. Everyone commented on David’s positive attitude (Dr. Brooks also mentioned that yesterday) and stressed how important it is to stay positive. I’ve been amazed at his capacity to be positive, stick with the chemo, and just “do what has to be done.” He’s never gone off the deep end and acted out like Laura Linney’s character in the Showtime series The Big C.

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