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Round Two

And the winner is.. me!

But it was a bit harder fought this time. I pretty much slept for three days, and the cold sensitivity was worse. But the nausea meds continue to work, and I have the luxury of being able to sleep for three days when needed. Not only is work cooperative, my mother is here visiting, and she’s been cooking and doing the dishes. (So much appreciated!)

I was unhooked at noon yesterday, and am back at work today, though there may be a nap in my mid-afternoon future. Right now, the most annoying thing is that I can taste the chemo. Presumably it’s breakdown products, since it’s been over a day and I couldn’t taste it this much while actually on the pump, but EW UGH BLARGH. It makes eating and drinking enough that much harder, and is really just plain disgusting. There was a bit of post-chemo “flavor” last cycle, but I don’t remember it being this strong.

I had a brief moment of panic after getting my bloodwork results from Monday before starting chemo. My red and white blood cell counts are good: within normal ranges for people not on chemo, so excellent for those who are. There’s a blood marker for colon cancer, called CEA. At diagnosis, my level was high, what would be expected for someone with metastatic colon cancer.

On Monday, it was considerably higher. Wait, what!? But it turns out that the chemo regimen I’m on can produce initial spikes in CEA, and such a spike is likely a sign that the therapy is working: dying cancer cells are releasing CEA, which is also an inflammation marker. My oncologist was quick to reassure me of the same thing.

A bit more digging turned up additional information on CEA, including the points that it is too variable to be a good screening test, and not even a good monitoring tool. So I’ll try not to fuss about it.

Science: nifty but confusing! And this just reinforces the point I’ve already made: if you aren’t sure, ASK.

Something else I didn’t realize about cancer until I got here: how dreadfully dull most of it is. Sure, there are moments of panic, but mostly it’s sitting still for hours on end, napping ceaselessly, and putting up with myriad physical inconveniences large and small. It’s neither fun nor interesting, though I will have a whole PILE of sensory details for putting in science fiction. (MRIs as spaceship surrogates, the lingering taste of poison, and so on.)