Saturday, December 29, 2007

Week 8 Update

Pattern of starting 2nd week in cycle in a funk and ending it in better spirits seems to be holding. On Friday was feeling good enough to have a [gluten free] rib dinner at Chili's and a lot of laughs with my friend Fernando Velez , so turned out to be a very good way to end the week. Earlier in week had a fun late lunch with my stepdaughter Sahar visiting from NY at another restaurant with a gluten free menu. (What is it with us Irish and potatoes? I had a terrific and huge baked potato with broccoli at that lunch).

Got a couple of walks in during weather breaks this week, and hope to add another 5 in next 10 days so that in 21 day cycle I will have at least exercised 1/3rd of the days, however wimpy the workouts might be. Found my health club membership card and may start doing treadmill walks to get around the readily available weather excuse.

Was having some blood pressure issues and a index finger on right had was a bit numb when I started the week, but those have gradually gone away.

One of my blood tests last time was only slightly above borderline in terms of allowing me to proceed on schedule with chemo. Next cycle for me starts on a Tuesday instead of a Monday because of "El dia de los Reyes", and hopefully the extra recovery day will allow me to proceed on schedule with the next infusion. If not they may need to delay for a few days , or they may have special injection to boost the troublesome blood value. Will be glad to get this upcoming fourth cycle underway, will mean that I will be at least halfway through, and perhaps as much as 2/3rds through the planned chemo regime. Springtime cannot come fast enough for me, I only wish my health would allow me to get to spring training again this year, I could use a couple of weeks in the sun at the end of the winter.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Barney Frank on New Federal Reserve Truth in Lending Proposed Rules.

Classic Barney news release HERE.

Week 7 Summary.

Been a typical week one of new chemo cycle: 1. General tiredness 2. Lack of exercise 3. Oregon rain.

Glad that meds are over for this cycle. Beginning of Christmas holiday this week should begin to improve mental and physical outlook (if only the weather would improve so I get my behind out the door and and walk without the need for swim fins).

Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Week 6 Summary and Some Cancer Statistical Sources.

Good news is that it was a uneventful week. Started coming down with sore throat so had to back off walking a bit, but think I got three short walks in anyway during a period of cold weather. I am going this morning to get blood tests, as prelude to infusion tomorrow and start of round 3 of chemo.

I had indicated earlier that I wanted to make this site more than just about me, by providing information about cancer and cancer treatment. So today I want to share some good sources of cancer statistical information.

Cancer Stats:
The most important thing to keep in mind is that statistics do NOT predict what is going to happen to any one individual, but they CAN give a more realistic snapshot of the incidence of cancer and survival/remission data that goes well beyond stereotypes that "everyone dies" or conversely the equally over generalized "most people now get cured".

Two locations offer the best starting point. The National Cancer Institute HERE, and the very detailed Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data can be found HERE. Today I'm going to focus on SEER data.

SEER data
From SEER, a page leads to state level profile data, available by cancer "site" (type and body organs) HERE. The most detailed information, from SEERS Cancer Query Systems allow users to focus on incidence, mortality, or survival rates and can be found HERE.

Survival SEER data
, with an interactive database can be found HERE. It takes some time to get used to making selections properly, but from this database one can narrow searches by site of cancer, age when first detected , race, etc and then extract specific data or charts showing survival rates , typically by period: 1 year, 3 year, 5 year etc.

Five year survival rates for white males in my age group for all stages of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) diagnosed from 1996-2003 was 66.7%. With the same demographics, for testicular cancer the 5 year survival rate was substantially higher at 89.4%. Take away point: the site of cancer can make a big difference in survivability, as can other variables like age, gender etc.

  1. Advances in chemo for NHL may have improved outcomes since the beginning of the reporting period, survival rates may therefore be somewhat understated
  2. More advanced disease stages will have poorer outcomes.
  3. Younger ages typically have had better outcomes for NHL, so being in the middle of the range likely improves outcomes at least marginally.
  4. Repeat after me: Stats do NOT predict individual outcomes.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Week 5 Update: Simple Pleasures.

The week started with me being in not so great health, with my mood matching the foul weather we experienced to start this week.

At the end of the week if there was such a thing as a "Tommy Dealing with Cancer Index" [TDWCI], the headline now would read "Week ends with TDWCI UP a Solid 100 Points".

The reasons for the uptick in the TDWCI are several simple pleasures. During the week:
  • I had three housing related meetings where I got to see some familiar faces and engage in housing topics that have been of long term interest.
  • I was able to get out and get four solid walks in , the last a 55 minute walk in the bright sunshine of a lazy Saturday afternoon.
  • I completed the milestone of completing my 100th Oregon Housing blog post, publishing a list of those first 100 blogs in a PDF file, complete with web link to each one of the posts, HERE.
  • The most important simple pleasure of the week is that my hair has grown back the tiniest bit-a centimeter at most. It's quite possible that this new growth will fall out again when I start chemo again a week from now. However, whether that happens or not, the joy of being able to now pat my head and feel this tangible indicator that my body is at least trying to recover is a real reminder of the importance of simple pleasures in our daily lives.
If you have a simple pleasure in your daily life, feel free to add a comment and tell others about it in the space provided. If you don't want to share your thoughts in such a public way, that's totally understandable. The real point is that whether done privately or in public , I can guarantee you will get a smile on your face once you take the time to think about what those surprisingly simple pleasures are in your life.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Week 4 Done.

Good news is that NO repeat of visits to porcelain prayer post this time around, got additional anti nausea drug. Infusion was shorter also, was able to drive myself home after about 4 hours. Have had a generally "sour" stomach and a chemo smell in my nostrils that I can sense but hopefully is not so obvious to others.

Gluten free diet is working well and am thankful for the two markets in my immediate area which have a wide
(but expensive) variety of gluten free food choices.

Although 4 weeks are behind me , it still feels like it is going to be a long slog, with anywhere from 14-20 weeks left of chemo and then recovery period after that.Will get new PET scan after 4th round of chemo (around end of January) and that will provide reality check on how effective chemo has been to date.

For mental health, I need to get out and do some walking , but that is currently hampered by 2+ inches of rain in last 24 hours and need to make sure I don't weaken my immune system in the process. Hopefully if I can get out tomorrow that will pick up my mood a bit and get me through this gloomy weather.