Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pork CHOP Report

Greetings from frigid Dover, where the temp is a fast-plunging 15 degrees with a 20 mph wind out of the northwest . Should be below zero tomorrow. Good thing I'm inside on my comfy chair with my sleeping bag and Lucy to keep me warm while I work from home and recharge the day after Round 3 of chemo.

You'll recall from earlier posts my mantra that "boring is good" right now. If that's the goal, we're doing exceedingly well. After those crazy-low red blood cell and platelet counts of a few weeks back, the numbers came back up to normal and then some by last Friday, so no transfusions, no spontaneous bleeding. I'm certainly more run down due to the RBC effects on my ability to process oxygen. I've continued to work out, but any thought of "kicking ass" on one of those Spinervals DVDs has been replaced by the old Nike slogan, "Just do it." So I've dialed back the intensity of the workouts by shifting down a gear or adding an extra minute of recovery in between sets, but I still got in 19 miles yesterday morning before beginning the second day of this round of chemo, and that felt great, both physically and psychologically.

For those of you keeping score at home, I have two different chemo regimes, which alternate every 3 weeks for a total of 18 weeks. So the odd-numbered rounds (1, 3, & 5) feature the R-CHOP drugs, administered at my doctor's office, spread over 2 days. The even-numbered rounds (2, 4 & 6) feature the ARA-C drugs, which require the 48-hour in-hospital treatment. The R-CHOP tends to make me feel more nauseous but the in-hospital stay leaves me massively sleep deprived, which is worse than the drugs.

All I can say about this round is, "so far, so good." While I don't have a voracious appetite, I don't have the hiccups and acid reflux that did a number on me after Round 1. I got a good night's sleep last night, and I was able to work on my laptop at the oncologist's for most of yesterday's treatment, which is good, because as I wrote earlier, running a nonprofit is more challenging than cancer.

Because I told the nurse to give me the "Lamb CHOP" in Round 1, I asked her to go with the Pork CHOP yesterday, specifically one with a bourbon-maple glaze. The other patients groaned in either misery or appreciation at this image, but I don't think I hurt anyone's appetite. One of the ladies across from me ate a large steak & cheese sub while getting her drugs. More power to her.

The best thing about the drugs you get is the massive dose of Benedryl they give you on day 1 with the Rituxan ("Mighty Mouse"). This dose conked me out for over an hour on Monday, and I told the nurse that it had the quality of a 12 year-old single-malt: "Please pass along my compliments to the pharmacist."

Today, I have an all-morning conference call for work and then go back to the doctor's for the Neulasta shot which will stimulate my white blood cells and give me that lovely bone pain seven days hence. I have a CAT scan at the end of the month to check my progress toward eradicating the lyphoma cells (there are some barely detectable lumps in my neck, but the ones under my arms and in my groin have entirely disappeared already). I'll be in for Round 4 at Newton-Wellesly hospital the first week in February.

But that's for another day. Right now, all I can say is Hey, I'm halfway through chemo!!! I'm still biking, still eating, still working and still a wise ass. We're going to do this, people. One mile at time, but we're going to do this.

PS: A number of you have had some difficulty figuring out how to subscribe to the blog using the "Follower" function or using RSS or Atom feeds. I've just added an easier way to subscribe, via email. You can activate it by clicking the box in the right-hand panel below. If you're on Facebook, you can also follow the links at right for instructions on how to get updates from this blog fed into your Facebook page. Hope this helps!


Anonymous said...


Congratulations! Half-way through and you avoided the transfusion! YES!

Know that you have a crew down south saying prayers for your complete recovery!


Bruce said...

Stevarino, 19 miles! You da man!

Bruce said...

Steve, congrats on reaching the half-way mark with such humor and aplomb! I assume the remaining sessions may include the Veal CHOP (poor little lambies!), the Chop Shop CHOP, the Chop Chop CHOP (think either Cha Cha Cha, or you may be in a hurry), the Fop CHOP (if you dress up for it), the Hip Hop CHOP, the Plop CHOP (if it makes you heave), the Bunny CHOP (sorry), maybe even the Karate CHOP (hope not!), and perhaps the last one will be the Stop CHOP!

Kieran said...

Steve, I know you like making people laugh, but do you like shaming them as well? I can't tell you the last time I worked out like you are, and I am healthy. OY!

Halfway done is *SO FANTASTIC*! We are sending you all our love and hugs and New-York-a$$-kicking spirit,

SMP said...

Thanks for this guys. Believe me, it's not about shame, just staying sane!



Anonymous said...

Hi Steve:
I've been following your journey and enjoying your reports. You have a great sense of humor!
I think of you often,
Bonnie T