On Wednesday, 11-28-01,
the physical therapist came by again and we reviewed the exercises she
taught me on her first two visits and said I was making very good
She made her last visit on Friday, 11-30-01,
we went through the exercises and she bid me goodbye and good luck.
Sometime in the middle of the week, my IBM 75GXP 40 gig hard drive took a
dump. When I bought it, the reviews all indicated that this was THE
hard drive for geeks to have, mostly because of it's speed and
reliability. The reliability factor was based on other drives in the
series before it that actually were.
To make a long story short, I had to do a lot of re-arranging to get my
computer running again. I had to re-install the operating system and all my essential programs for making art and working
with this site and all that stuff. Luckily, I do a lot of backups of
my hard drive stuff (and you should too!!)
My daughter, Casey, spent the
weekend with me and we went to see the movie Harry
Potter. Mom took us again and we also took my niece Ashley and my
great-nephew Steven. We all had a great time and enjoyed the movie
very much, though it was pretty long.
I don't consider games 'essential' programs, so they didn't get loaded up,
which disappointed Casey a little. She's a geek's daughter who grew
up with a keyboard and monitor in front of her, so she dug in to fix the
While going through my CD's, Casey came across a lot of computer
games. She saw one she hadn't seen before and asked about it.
We loaded up Max Payne
for her to try and she fell in love with it, being an old Quake
hand. After a few false starts because of some minor monitor
resolution problems, she was downing bad guys with the best of them.
I had a lot of fun watching and since I'd already finished the game, I was
able to help with a few of the puzzles she had trouble with. As
always, we had a lot of fun together.
George Harrison died of cancer, which was sad for me, particularly now
that I have lymphoma. His battles with cancer were much different
though, being that they were throat, lung and brain cancers.
Casey and I watched a tribute to him on VH-1.
On Monday, 12-3-01, I went back to the Cancer
Treatment Center and got my 4th Rituxan
treatment. It was my final treatment in this series. I was out in the lounge area with everyone
else again, and got a little nap in the recliner while it dripped in
through the IV. Again, I had no ill side effects and everything went
Before the treatment, I had my blood drawn as always and then saw my
Oncologist. I had several questions for him again, and his
answers explained to me that the tumor causing all this is in one of my
600 or so lymph nodes. Which one is the question that can't be
answered. Also the sub category of my particular lymphoma makes it a
"Nodal Marginal Zone B-Cell Lymphoma."
Here's the official explanation on the surgical pathology report from the
biopsies on the lymph nodes they took out while I was in St.
biopsy is characterized by a lymphoplasmacytic proliferation with open
sinuses. The lymphocytes have a nodular orientation, and appear to
colonize germinal centers. The plasma cells are predominantly
located within the sinuses with scattered binucleated cytometric findings
revealing a CD-5 negative, B-Cell, light-chain restricted
population. This lymphoma is best classified as a nodal margin zone
lymphoma. Given the numerous plasma cells, an M-protein may be
present. Correlation with serum protein electrophoresis may be
helpful to monitor the disease."
Clear as mud, right?! My new job as cancer patient is to decipher
that stuff over the next few weeks, get a bead on what it all means, and
get my questions about it ready for the next visit to my Oncologist.
Actually, I've already covered most of it over the last few weeks, so
there's not much there that's new to me.
The doc examined me then and went over my blood work with me. He
said that some of the nodes still appear to be somewhat swollen, but that
he was happy to see my lower extremities were getting back to their normal
He noted that I'd lost 20 pounds over the past 2 weeks since I last saw
him and asked if I'd been eating. I reported that I eat meals,
snacks and everything else I can get my hands on lately, so he figures
it's the fluid coming off my legs, ankles and feet. Losing that
weight has me lighter than I've been in years, taking me below 180 lbs.
The blood work showed increasing good signs again, and I finally have some
numbers back in the 'normal' range. Specifically, my blood platelet
count. Others are on the rise, and it's looking good on that front.
Over the last few weeks I've had opportunity to read a lot and talk with
other patients and caregivers about the disease and treatments.
There are a lot of opinions out there because it's a disease that cannot
be cured, only treated to the point of remission. That's the best we
can hope for, and getting there is not an exact science because everyone's
cancer seems to have a will and a stamina all it's own. What works
for someone else may not work for me and vice-versa.
Still, all that info raised several questions in my mind, specifically
about the doc's intention to continue the fight with a series of
chemotherapy treatments next. I asked the doc why he felt we should
go with chemo next when I'd heard that some patients are doing 8 Rituxan
treatments instead of 4, and it seems to be working for them. He
explained to me that the data on 8 treatments is not all in yet and that
because my cancer is already quite advanced, he felt it prudent to go with
the chemo next. At my questioning, he explained that the series will
consist of what is known as C.O.P., which stands for the drugs that will
Cytoxan, a.k.a.: Cyclophosphamide,
The Cytoxan and Oncovin recipe will be dripped in by IV and the Prednisone
is a pill I'll take. This series of treatments will last 4 - 6
cycles, a cycle being: I get the treatment of all three on day 1, then
take the Prednisone for 4 more days. 3 weeks after the 3 drug
treatment, on day 22, I start all over again. So that's a total of
12 - 18 weeks of treatments. I start about 3 weeks from now, on 12-27-01,
so it will go on till between the end of February and the middle of
He reminded me that it might make me sick and my hair might fall
out. I smiled and told him, "Luckily, I'm a 'HAT
GUY' anyway!" As for the sickness, at least I know it's
coming this time. I can't imagine I'll feel any worse than I did in
Knoxville while I was dieing, just before I was diagnosed, so I'll
get through it OK.
I told him about the numbness I've been feeling in the thumb and
forefinger of my left had. He examined the area and suspects that I
have a pinched nerve somewhere in that arm, so I'll pay close attention to
what I'm doing to see if it's being caused by the way I position it or
rest it on things and get back to him on it.
So far, so good, I reckon... I feel pretty good, swelling is
still going down and my ankles and feet look almost normal again, though
they're still kinda sore, along with my legs. The exercising is
getting easier though, so I can tell they keep getting stronger.
Getting up and down stairs isn't as much of a chore as it was either,
which feels great!
The force is with me!