Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Road to New Chemotheraphy

Pills! As we all get older most of us will start to take them on a regular basis. But for now, most of us take them for a headache, backache, and perhaps constipation and or the dreaded diarrhea. YUCK!

I was at my parents the other day and remember when I was the only one taking pills for my heart as a teenager. Now my parents kitchen table is chocked full of them. Heart pills, high blood pressure, diabetes, pain killers, hell they were spread all over the place. My Mom told me that she takes 19 pills a day now while my Dad is close behind at 11. Both of my parents are 77 years of age.

When I had my last heart surgery in the year 2000 to replace an overused valve, I had some other things corrected as well and was thankfully taken off the blood thinning pill, coumadin. For the first time since I was a teenager I was free of a daily pill. That lasted 8 years.

Beginning this past July, I was put back on pills recently for this dreaded cancer. This time, it's a potential life extending chemotherapy treatment in a pill form called Capecitabine. Disappointed with the thought of choking down another pill or two per day I was happy, however, to be receiving something that would hopefully take the cancer in my lungs away. Or if anything, slow the bastard of a disease down.

When I received the first prescription of Capecitabine I was surprised to learn that it wasn't just one or two pills per day but a total of eight. Four in the morning and four at night. I was informed I had to take them 12 hours apart and they must be taken within 30-minutes after I have eaten. This is the difficult part. You see, we usually eat at around 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm at night. This means that I would have to get up at 6:00 or 7:00 in the am to eat breakfast and then force 4 pills down my throat. There's no way my body could do it. I need my sleep at 6:00 am. Don't you?

In a compromise, I now take my pills between 10:00 and 11:00 am so therefore I can enjoy a 12 hour break just in time for a bedtime snack in the PM in order to take my pills. Confused? Don't worry; the bottom line is that taking pills are a pain in the ass but it's something I have to do.

The only good thing about these pills is that it appears that the cancer is slowing, according to the results of my last CT-Scan. That's great news. I suppose the other good news is that I have not lost any of my strawberry blonde locks, nor am I visiting the infamous porcelain bowl vomiting. I have one side effect which is a hand and foot disorder where my fingers and feet tingle, swell and get red and sore. They can also blister which is very bad because it opens you to infection. Thankfully, I have just endued the tingling, swelling and soreness, no blisters yet. The other side effect, very common to all forms of chemo, is fatigue. This is a daily occurrence and I have simply learned to live with it.

So this is where we are now. I am currently on week 2 of my fourth round of pill chemo. After two weeks of taking 4 pills, every 12 hours, I then go on a one week break where I recoup my system, blood count and energy. I then go to PMH (Princess Margaret Hospital) for blood work and a meeting with my doctor to ensure the side effects are not to strenuous on the body. If blood work is OK, then I return home to do it all over again. Pills, pills and more pills. Don't worry, you never get used to it.

Just ask my parents.

Thanks for reading and sharing.... Next Blog.... September 23, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Still Kickin' - September 9, 2008

Hi.. I hope you remember me. I'm Barry Larock and I'm still alive and kickin'!

I know a lot of people have been wondering and asking about my blog and why I stopped so suddenly on June 23, 2008. The reason was because I had a change in medication and a change in my living habits. That week was a difficult one for me as I was told by my doctors that the injected chemotherapy didn't seem to be working and they were going to try an oral form of medication to see if they could slow down or stop the tumors from growing. I accepted the challenge and took on the new medication. Then on June 28th Jennifer and Trent changed my living habits by ending school for the summer and joining me at home 24 -7 (ahhhhhhhhhhh!) Just kidding.

The summer just blew by and here we are today with the recent addition of my blog.

Oh... What did we do this summer you ask? Well, I hate to brag but it was probably one of the best summers of my life. Many of you know how I dislike being away from work because I honestly do love my work, but this summer and this disease gave me an opportunity that most people could choose to do but fail to do in their entire lifetime. And that was to take the summer off with my family.

We went camping! We went on a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean! We stayed up late watching movies! We swam in our pool! We visited friends on Sunday evenings! And we slept in till 10:00 am or later. It was awesome and well deserved for all of us. There is nothing quite like being free to do what you want when you want with your family.

So now September comes and the family goes back to school. Jennifer back teaching and Trent back to being a student. Barry is relegated to kitchen chores, a bucket list of fall household chores and my newest commitment, getting back into shape. This is all because of some positive news I have received in the last couple of days.

This past weekend in Toronto I visited the MRI machine on Friday and then the CT-Scan machine on Saturday before going Monday (yesterday) for the results. Dr. Sui informed me, as she always does in such an honest and pleasant manner, that the results showed that there is still some progression of the disease but not as much as the last time I had an MRI and CT-Scan three months ago. So it appears the cancer is slowing down. Could this be due to the chemotherapy in June, July and August? Or is it because of the healthier lifestyle I have chosen? Or further still is it because my body is doing all that it can to fight this son of a bitch disease?

That's the puzzling part of cancer and its phases as not even the doctors know why, what or how anything works on it because it is different in every person. My doctor can't be sure its the chemo but she is confident enough to refill my perscription for another round against this monster in the pervervable ring. I am ready for the challenge. Eye of the Tiger Barry... Eye of the Tiger!

Another lesson I learned this summer about myself and facing this disease is that you have to maintain a positive attitude and you have to keep looking forward to the next event in your life. For me the cruise was a big family event that has since come and gone. Then it was Trent's lacrosse and hopes of making it to the provincials, which never happened. And now, I look forward to a holiday away with my brother Blaine in November. All this involves a positive attitude on living and keeping active by doing such mundane tasks as kitchen chores, cleaning the hot tub, closing the pool and even power washing the garbage receptacles.

I must admit, now that I am nearing the end of this blog edition, that it was very hard and a long time coming to sit down and write it. Once you are away from something for awhile it is hard to get back into it and pour your heart out on such a personal issue. But, because of your enquires and your continued support for my well being I have finally done it and I feel very gracious to all of you for doing so. You have provided me with yet a another chore to look forward too for the coming weeks ahead.

Thank you for reading and sharing...

Next Blog.... the road to new chemotherapy... September 15, 2008