October 28th, 2008: Today, after first hearing his name on September 23rd, I got to meet Dr. Thierry Jahan. The visit started off well and improved from there. By the time we left an hour and a half later, both Eileen and I were buzzing with purpose and plans. I had imagined Dr. Jahan as being somewhat severe. In fact, there was a lot of laughter and delight during the visit. Surprising, considering the content of our talk. First, he talked about pain management and suggested a basic principle: take medication sooner rather than later. Then, he walked me through the next few weeks. First, I’ll get a central line installed for the chemo and other fluids that will be part of the treatment. Then, I’ll check into the Parnassus UCSF hospital for five days. During my time there, I’ll get rounds of Ifosfamide for two hours a day for four days. Also Doxorubicin. Find out more about these drugs on Google.
I will loose all my hair. “I’ve always known that I would never be bald,” I said. “Wrong again.” “Yes,” Dr. Jahan agreed, “you will be bald. But unlike me, your hair will grow back,” and he rubbed his shining crown. The day after chemo, I’ll get an infusion of Nulesta or Neuprogen which stimulates the growth of white blood cells. Then, three weeks of rest. Then, another week of the same regimen as above. At timely intervals, I’ll be scanned and the tumor growth will be compared to the baselines that have already been measured.
Unlike the hip replacement, I don’t know what to imagine about my time between chemotherapy treatments. I don’t know how much fatigue I’ll feel. I don’t know how I’ll deal with nausea and the constellation of food and weight issues. However, I do know that I’ll need help. Over the past two months, people have consistently asked, “What can I do?” Up until now, there really hasn’t been much to do. My support has been about enjoying visits from people; sitting in my living room and drinking tea. Currently, my plan is to organize a support group of people who are able to help out with practical things like grocery shopping. But there are also forms of support that vault over physical distance.
Take, for example, chemotherapy. To me, chemo is the opposite of how I live most of the time. Normally I eat the healthiest, most appetizing food to nourish my body. With chemo, I am swallowing poison to kill toxic tissues. That’s a lot of negatives. I know that a chemo ritual would be helpful to me. This ritual would involve welcoming the chemo into my self, thanking it for its aggressive behavior, being grateful that it can distinguish cancer cells and end their lives. Also, the ritual would include telling the cancer that it can’t find a long-term home in me. Anyone in this circle of people would be welcome to send a one liner, a mantra, a motto that could be incorporated into the chemo ritual. And, when the time arrives to open the drip line and have the fluid move into my bloodstream, I would welcome it with the words that have been aggregated from many friends.