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My trusty black Sharpie has crossed off all the days. That must mean I’m done!

treatment calendar

That would be 28 days of radiation (blue) and 34 days of poison peach pills, aka Xeloda (peach, of course). (Technically I have one more dose of Xeloda to take tonight, so I’m not really done, but close enough.)

The radiation oncology office agrees with my count, fortunately.


It wasn’t horrid: I never got the extreme fatigue or extreme diarrhea that pelvic radiation often causes. I’m tired and my digestion is sub-optimal, but neither is debilitating. Also, with the radiation I may finally have hit the no menstrual periods jackpot, rather than chemo-induced horrid ones. That would be okay, really.

The Xeloda hasn’t been so bad either. All the skin is still attached to my hands and feet, which I am terribly happy about. The main side effect for the poison peach pills has been numbness in my hands and feet. It’s a good thing it’s time to stop taking them, because the numbness has spread to the point that it’s problematic instead of just annoying. It retreats a bit on pill-free weekends, giving me hope that I have not inflicted permanent nerve damage on myself in the name of staying alive.

I haven’t been exercising as much as I’d like, obviously, since I can’t really walk to work and back when I need to be at the hospital every morning. I probably shouldn’t commit to that much walking anyway. I’ve been walking the boxer and doing yoga, pretty close to daily for both. It’s clear to me that I’ve lost both flexibility and muscle tone. I’ve done pretty well not losing more weight, even with radiation sickness (reliably from two hours post-treatment and lasting five hours, at least; often it’s completely gone by dinner time, but not always). (Cancer treatment: where losing two pounds is cause for comment by a nurse, a PA, and a doctor. “Are you sure you’re eating?” “Yes, positive.”)

What’s next? I get some time off to heal and recover. I have an appointment with my surgeon in two weeks (the 20th) to plan what’s next. The optimum window for surgery is 4-6 weeks after radiation, and I imagine there will be a CT scan and probably a colonoscopy before then. (Which makes three colonoscopies in 2014; there should be a law!)

In a couple of weeks, I shall be going on a sushi and cocktails expedition, because both of those have been forbidden to me (compromised immune system, liver-damaging drugs; neither has been very bad, but I’ve been being good). I’ll be sleeping, kayaking, reading, and trying frantically to get caught up on my work goals for 2014 before I’m out of the office for two months, while trying not to fuss about how everything is going to fall apart without me. (Not at work; work is well-organized. At home.) I’m not worried about the surgery itself, but about the two-month recovery period. Eeep.

Reading: I will be exerting great willpower to avoid diving into two things I’m saving up for post-surgery recovery reading: the complete run of Shadow Unit, and the complete run of C.E. Murphy’s Walker Papers series. I’ve read large chunks of both, but both series are now complete, and I highly recommend them.