Crap shoot

Sometimes choosing the right drug is a crap shoot

After months of indecision, I called my oncologist last week and told him I was ready to switch from exemestane (Aromasin) to letrozole (Femara). He’d suggested several months ago that if I wanted to, I could make the change because the letrozole might have fewer, milder side effects. And I’ve been wrestling with the decision ever since.

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The real anniversary

My ‘Longest Year’ is over

Despite the title of my post a few days ago, today is my real one-year anniversary. My cancer surgery was exactly one year ago, May 20, 2015, and was the first salvo in my war against the invading malignancy.

I hasten to say, however, that I’m not a “hero” for “fighting courageously.” And I’m not “brave” or deserving of praise. Few cancer patients really are, although that’s the way we’re often depicted by others. We really have only one decision to make: We decide to fight and go through whatever treatment the professionals deem necessary, or we decide not to fight and just let the cancer grow and spread until it kills us.

Fight or die. What would you do under the same circumstances? I think the choice is pretty easy, unless maybe you’re already at death’s door.

So, I am quietly marking this, the one-year anniversary of the day I declared war on cancer. It’s been a tough year, but I’m past all the surgery, chemo, and radiation, and the lung problem seems to have cleared up. It’s now pretty much up to me to continue recovering and get back to whatever is going to be “normal” from now on.

Medical guessing games

Three months’ worth of details exchanged in 30 minutes

I need a secretary (er, make that “administrative professional”) to keep track of all my medical stuff — the notes, the meds, the appointments, the instructions, etc. And I needed that secretary yesterday when I saw my oncologist for the first time since mid-January. So much had happened that he wanted to know about, and I had a bunch of questions saved up for him. It all amounted to a ton of details flying back and forth. Details I wanted to remember. Needed to remember. But I didn’t take notes because I wanted to give him my full attention. Besides, it’s routine to get a four-to-six-page printout after each appointment, detailing everything.

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Nearly normal

With conscious sedation, port removal is no big deal.

Yesterday brought me another step closer to normalcy. My IV port (Mediport) was removed in an outpatient procedure in CU’s Interventional Radiology department. (The doctor’s office didn’t strike me as a serious enough setting.)

So now there’s no more foreign body in my chest. No more lump under my skin or catheter bulging on the side of my neck (purely cosmetic concerns, unlike some cases I’ve read about). The port is gone. In its place, a neat 4 × 4 clear adhesive patch covering a smaller 2 × 2 gauze pad. I’m to keep the dressing dry for 48 hours, then can remove it and deal with just Steri-Strips for about 10 days.

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Goodbye pulmonologist

Two months of prednisone did the trick; the pneumonitis is gone.

It seemed anticlimactic after coughing through most of last summer, fall, and early winter and then struggling through the “joys” of prednisone for two months, but Monday (four days ago) was my last appointment with the pulmonologist.

We had a nice little chat and she listened to my lungs a bit. Conclusion: lungs sound normal. I don’t need to see her again unless and until there’s some new lung problem or a recurrence of the cough.

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Just sittin’ on the dock of the bay

One more week of prednisone. Then maybe a return to normalcy …

I’m still here, still waiting impatiently for the calendar to announce that — Yes!! — I’m finally off prednisone. It won’t be much longer; I’m in the last week of my taper, currently taking 10 mg every other day. Barring the reappearance of lung problems or cough or anything else that demands I restart it, I’ll be free of prednisone this time next week. Then, next time I talk to the pulmonologist, I’ll get instructions for tapering off the Advair (also a corticosteroid).

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Another prednisone side effect: moon face

Still in denial, but it looks like I have moon face.

Okay, I’m finally admitting to myself that my puffy eyelids could be part of the dreaded “moon face” that prednisone can cause. I’ve been telling myself for several weeks that my face looks rounder just because I have so little hair on top of my round head. But I think it might be more than that.

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It’s called orthostatic hypotension

If it’s not one thing it’s another. This time: postural hypotension.

It’s another of those fun things that many senior citizens have to put up with, but it’s only become a notable problem for me in the last few weeks. The medical term for it is orthostatic hypotension. It’s that dizzy feeling you sometimes get when you stand up after sitting or lying down for a while.

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Here comes Kayla

It was inevitable. Denver weather is finally going to force an appointment cancellation.

We’ve been hearing for most of a week now that a big storm is due in on or about Monday. It’s been dubbed Winter Storm Kayla and the forecasters now agree the snow will begin tomorrow night and continue through Monday, with accumulation of up to 12″ (16″ in one forecast) here in Denver. That’s a lot more than we usually get at one time.

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The cough is gone

It took three weeks of prednisone at 60 mg a day, but the cough is finally gone.

I don’t think I’m jinxing myself by saying that finally my infernal involuntary cough is gone. It’s been at least a week since I’ve even had occasion to think about it, much less reach for cough drops or cough syrup. Of course I have no way of knowing what my lungs look like at this point, but they’ve got to be improving if there’s no cough and none of that crackling, wheezing “something’s loosening up in there” sound.

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