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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.)


  1. Jessica says:

    Glad the panic was only momentary.

  2. Mari says:

    Ah. You’ll have some really great squicks in the “giving birth to an alien scene” in one of your stories.

  3. Marjorie says:

    Glad to hear you are a winner!
    Hope the post-chemo taste goes away quickly.

  4. Kim says:

    Glad you are a winner! And really glad you are able to take the time to nap when needed and that your mother is there helping out.

  5. Laura says:

    I am very glad round two has gone to my favorite scientist. 🙂 May the bad taste go away very fast.

  6. Carol Reed says:

    Good! You’re half way through conquering this disease. You’re going to make it the rest of the way. Citrus is a good idea to try to conquer the horrible flavor. Mint is another option — I know I’ve had both flavors at various times to try to rid myself from acid reflux. (You now have an excuse to commandeer the entire box of Girl Scout cookies. 🙂 )

  7. Susan Farmer says:

    My MIL had good luck with popsicles so she kept lots of those freeze-them-yourself things in the freezer. Dunno if it will work for you or not.

    Keep on keeping on!

    Carol mentioned Cirtus — what about Sekanjibin?

    1. Sarah says:

      Several people have suggested popsicles. Sadly, I can’t even drink tap water because it’s too cold. Popsicles are right out, as are my beloved nutritious smoothies. Bah!

  8. Sally says:

    Long may the winning continue.

  9. Vince says:

    Maureen is the best, so relived that she made the trip and has the time, and skills that only a mother has. Also she loves you.

  10. valerio says:

    I did not want to say it, but yea, this is kind of boring. When I heard about a scientist who finds out about cancer, I guess I was expecting a lot more drama. Thanks a lot for setting the bar so high Breaking Bad.

    But if you change your mind, Sarah I think that you would make a great criminal over boss. I would say the cover name Rachel Carson would be good choice.

    Just offering my services as your Mike Ehrmantraut if needed. I think that I could not pull off an effective Gus. It does not play to my strengths.

    Keep winning,

  11. Ruth says:

    When I was on chemo, I didn’t have a taste thing but a smell thing. It was some smell in the oncology office. The docs told me that all the patients smelled it, but no one else (docs, nurses, technicians) could. They assumed it was some chemical in the cleaning supplies. To this day, more than 35 years later, I occasionally pick up the same odor in someone’s perfume. If it happens to me in a elevator, I have to get off or risk losing my breakfast.