Yesterday was my monthly follow up with the oncologist to see how the TAS-102 is working.
In short, good news.
Even though my tumor markers have shown a split decision, i.e. some down and some up, the doctor is confident that the Japanese drug, along with everything else I’m taking, is doing something positive.
Her primary evidence for this is the fact that I continue to feel, all in all, much better than I have in a long time. Oh, and I do look good!
That said, we will continue with another two weeks of pills, starting this Sunday. After which we will do another blood test, followed by another appointment with the oncologist toward the end of August. At this point, she sees no need for a CT scan now. We will do that after one more round of treatment, likely in September, assuming test results remain consistent with or better than what we saw yesterday.
As before, no one is talking about either remission or cure. The name of the game remains to manage my symptoms – primarily pain and sleep issues – to the greatest extent possible. The former seems to be under control. While I still take my usual morning and nighttime painkillers, I no longer need four to five additional pain meds throughout the day; I’m down to one or two. That’s huge! Sleep is more inconsistent and probably has more to do with anxiety than anything else. Thankfully, I’ve got various pharmaceutical options in that department, too…
One of the drugs I’m taking is a steroid called Dexamethasone, which is supposed to help reduce swelling of internal organs, and also stimulate appetite. I’m pretty sure it’s doing both, as my pain is greatly reduced and I am hungry at almost all hours of the day and night. (Not to worry, my weight seems to be a consistent 63 kg/139 lbs these days.) A word of caution, though: do not mix Dexamethasone with caffeine. I’m pretty much off coffee these days, but I do miss the taste. So the other day I made myself a morning cup of joe. Almost immediately I was bouncing off the walls; I just didn’t know what to do with myself. Thank god Tammy just laughed it off, because it took the better part of the day for me to come down from that high. I don’t even know if I can call it a “high.” I think I have a better appreciation for those with ADD/ADHD.
In other good news, the past two weeks have seen me return to some regular work, for which I am extremely grateful. I’m hoping that trend continues and that I can find ways to be useful to my amazing colleagues who, for so long, have made my life much easier than I deserve.
The impact of reengaging with my coworkers has been simply amazing. While I’m nowhere near the productivity I once enjoyed – and I’m pretty sure I will never be there again – knowing that I can add value and not just do busy work is, in itself, therapeutic.
I’m sure I’ve referenced Cancer and Careers, an amazing organization I was introduced to by Julie Jansen, that helps cancer patients address the second question they usually ask after receiving their diagnosis: Will I be able to continue to work? Thankfully, I haven’t had to tap this resource, but it is seriously useful place for someone to start when first diagnosed.
As I prepare to coast into a relaxing weekend with friends and family, I wish you the same.