Yeah. More on that in a minute.
Two weeks ago I went to the oncologist to review my CT and recent blood work, following three months on Stivarga. While the drug was helpful in terms of mitigating much of the discomfort I was experiencing, almost immediately upon stopping the drug, the discomfort spiked.
So, not much of a surprise when the oncologist told me that both the CT and blood work clearly indicated significant tumor activity and progression.
As an aside, I am pleased to report that any recent hair loss was clearly the result of chemotherapy and NOT old age. My hair is back with a vengeance. So much so that no fewer than three people (my oncologist, her nurse and one of the chemo ward nurses) all exclaimed, “You look like a lamb!” Each proceeded to run her fingers through my luxurious locks.
What’s next? I’m now on Mitomycin, which is administered once every four weeks via infusion. Thus far, I am pleased to report that it seems to be helping in terms of reducing the frequency of my discomfort. Granted, the days immediately following administration were fraught with nausea and genuflecting before the porcelain god, but three days of hell once a month seems reasonable to me.
But, the best part of my recent visit to the oncologist, went like this:
“So, I’ll give you these two pain meds. Do you want to try cannabis, as well?”
“Great. Take this form to the secretary and she will set you up.”
We did, and three days later we were back at the hospital for an appointment with another oncologist who signs off on the licenses. As it turns out, there was no need to see him, we simply showed up and one of the nurses gave me my license (a photocopied piece of paper) and told me to call a number in Tel Aviv.
This morning was our appointment at a wonderful organization called Tikun Olam, Israel’s first and largest supplier of medical cannabis. As standard practice, we met first with a nurse – a lovely young man named Oded. (“You’re a nurse?” “Yes.” “Really?” “Yes; I worked in a hematology unit for five years!”)
Oded taught us about the history of medical marijuana in Israel and after some back and forth, we decided to go with a vaporizer, versus rolled joints, pills or oil.
“Take three deep breaths through the vaporizer,” he instructed. “And now write notes on this clipboard summarizing what I am saying.” I was following closely and diligently taking notes, but at one point I just got lost. I knew the words he was saying, and I understood them all. But I was lost.
“Oded,” said the neophyte, “You’re going to need to repeat that.”
He smiled and indulged me, and explained that’s just part of the magic of the cannabis.
So now my bedroom smells…interesting. I have a new vaporizer and grinder with which I need to sit down and play. I’m hoping that, with the new chemo, the meds and the cannabis, discomfort will subside, regular sleep will return, and a whole slew of friends will come out of the woodwork.