Saturday, September 15, 2012

Next phase of life

The last time I was in an infusion lab was in May 2008 at the end of four brutal weeks of IV interferon. I hoped never to see one again. Alas, that's where I was again yesterday in my ignominious return to immunotherapy, which will be followed next week with the start of 20 sessions of whole-brain radiotherapy.

Thus commences a severe but necessary course of treatment for my advanced melanoma. I’m intimidated by the potential for debilitating side-effects but also resolved to see this process through. There will be no quitting Yervoy early, as I did with interferon, unless the wholly unexpected should occur.
My recovery from brain surgery is almost complete now that most of the hearing in my right ear has suddenly returned. I also have nearly normal energy that’s allowed me to ramp up my running schedule; I did three miles this morning. If emergency surgery had been all I needed to treat my melanoma (as if that wasn’t enough) I’d be one happy Ogler. It’s great to feel and think normally again, if only for a few more days.

My four infusions are scheduled at three-week intervals, meaning my next trip to the lab at Providence on Oct. 5 will overlap with radiation treatment. It’s physically harder to do these therapies concurrently than it would be consecutively, but Dr. Curti and I agree that we want to give mel our best shot early while I’m strong and healthy. If the PET scan I have in early December is negative for cancer, we’ll salute each other as geniuses for being so aggressive. If the scan is positive, then we’ll regroup and decide what to do next.
Between now and then are long miles of fatigue and a laundry list of additional possible side-effects. I’ll spare you the details, as it’s possible they’ll be totally manageable. If they’re not, then you’ll be reading all about them eventually. These side-effects are cumulative and most of them delayed, so the honeymoon period for my therapy should continue through the end of the month.

My radiation oncologist was ultimately persuaded that sparing my hippocampus from x-ray exposure (see previous post) is a good idea. That means I’ll be getting intensity-modulated radiotherapy after all. Insurance concerns have also been resolved, as it appears this form of RT won’t cost me any more than a conventional whole-brain approach. It's nice to have won a couple small battles at least.
Of necessity, my posts in coming weeks will probably be shorter, simpler and less frequent. There’s a lot to consider as I embark on the next phase of my cancer journey, so I hope to find the energy to write about them. I haven’t begun to exhaust the possibilities of what this next phase of life is about and what it means to me.

4 comments:

Carl Pelz said...

Three miles this morning, eh? You are an animal and inspiration for me to step up my own stewardship of this body I inhabit. Thanks for the update on your treatment schedule. May our sovereign God go before you and the medical team.

Nancy said...

Peter,
Save your energy for the battle! Love your posts but will understand if they are shorter and less frequent. Guest posts from Nick and Ellen will be welcome, too. Just keep us informed so we can keep the prayers flying (which we'll do regardless.) I'll pray that the Lord will keep you on the trail and running, and you will breeze through these treatments.

Debbie said...

You'll be in my thoughts these coming weeks and months, Peter!

RBS said...

Peter I will pray for you and your loved ones daily. I hope you get every bit of value from the treatments and before Christmas you are NED. Ron