I Promise To Shower First

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m pretty excited. Last weekend Ann Nyberg dropped by. Ann has anchored at my old station, WTNH, for 30 years. She brought a videographer along.

Monday her stories (there is separate content for each newscast) air throughout the day on Channel 8.

And, of course, this is the last thing I ever expected to happen. It’s still a little surreal.

Lots of people have questions, which I’ll try and answer tonight (Sunday February 26, 2017) at 7:30 PM EST on a Facebook live video chat on my Facebook ‘wall.’ I’m pretty ratty at the moment. I promise to shower first.

See you then. Aloha.

Because I Work From Home

There’s no way I could take treatment and work in a more conventionally structured environment. I would have to retire. Two days this week I had two medical appointments before starting the forecast for Nebraska. As far as I remember I haven’t needed an unscheduled day off since surgery.

There’s a conversation H and I have had a few times recently. Working from home allows me to continue working. There’s no way I could take treatment and work in a more conventionally structured environment. I would have to retire.

Two days this week I had two medical appointments before starting the forecast for Nebraska. There’s a lot of juggling going on.

As far as I remember I haven’t needed an unscheduled day off since surgery.

Being home allows me to finish a session then take a nap. Napping has been incredibly important in my recovery. I am a pro-quality napper.

Helaine and I have been much more adept at listening to my body, understanding what it needs. Between surgery and treatment my insides are a little confused. The goal is to fix problems before they spiral out. We’ve been reasonably successful as we’ve become more experienced.

And now it’s on to the second half of my treatment. Another three months to go.

Another Busy Day

After I’m on the table lasers are pointed toward targets around my middle. That sets my position roughly. A CT scan follows which allows the radiation techs to make tiny corrections so my organs line up with my first session. The radiation beam is next.

The lasers are used to make sure I am in exactly the same position every time.

Today was a busy day. We’re now in double booking territory. I saw my endocrinologist then drove across the street for radiation. After that I went to work for Nebraska where there’s blizzard potential for tomorrow evening!

I have an endocrinologist because my pancreatic cancer was kind enough to trigger Type 2 diabetes. Swell.

Dr. Choi is my favorite doctor. She’s mom-like in her concern for my well being. She was happy with what she saw today. My blood sugar is under control through insulin and medication.

I’ll be taking a few blood tests to see how my pancreas is functioning. It’s possible (not likely) my diabetes could ‘heal’

Next stop the linear accelerator for my daily radiation treatment. I came pre-medicated for nausea. Either it worked perfectly or was unnecessary because my stomach stayed happy today.

I arrived around 15 minutes early and they took me right away! This place runs like clockwork.

After I’m on the table lasers are pointed toward targets around my middle. That sets my position roughly. A CT scan follows which allows the radiation techs to make tiny corrections so my organs line up with my first session. The radiation beam is next.

Here’s what I know about radiation: it really makes me tired!

I came home and took a 90 minute nap before going on-air in Nebraska. After my session I napped again. I can mold my life around the naps, but now I’m living in a 19 hour day world.

The end of this week marks the midpoint of my treatment. Eight weeks of chemo and three weeks of radiation, done. I’m good to go for the second half. It’s the cancer treatment equivalent of pitchers and catchers reporting.

What I Learned When I Forgot My Meds

Here’s what I’ve learned about the linear accelerator, it deserves respect! Before my daily session I’m supposed to take an Ondansetron (aka Zofran): Ondansetron blocks the actions of chemicals in the body that can trigger nausea and vomiting.

Wednesday I forgot! You really shouldn’t forget.

Here’s what I’ve learned about the linear accelerator I lie in daily: it deserves respect!

First, I only learned it’s called a “linear accelerator” yesterday. I like “ray gun” but that name would probably hold down sales.

Second, x-rays near my stomach make my tummy unhappy. Before my daily session I’m supposed to take an Ondansetron (aka Zofran):

Ondansetron blocks the actions of chemicals in the body that can trigger nausea and vomiting.

Wednesday I forgot! You really shouldn’t forget.

I was able to work, but not much more. Much of the rest of the day was spent in bed trying not to think about my stomach.

No fool I, today I remembered my meds. The radiation still has an effect, but it’s way down in the background now. There’s little comparison yesterday to today.

The walls at the linear accelerator facility are four feet thick. It’s probably easier to be on the other side of the wall.

My Great Leap Of Faith

Think about it for a second. The radiation is there to ‘douse’ any microscopic cancer cells too small to find. But in a best case scenario there are no cancer cells! It begs the question whether radiation is helping or hurting or maybe just wasting everyone’s time?

My seventh radiation session took place yesterday. So far, so good. There has been some nausea, but mostly it’s under control with medication. I haven’t missed any work or even been close.

I’m a frequent flier now. It’s become a daily routine. I’ve even stopped wearing a gown and just take off my shirt.

Once a week I meet with the radiation oncologist to make sure things are going well. We concentrate on how I’m feeling because there’s no way to know if radiation is actually making a difference! There’s no baseline to check improvement against.

Think about it for a second. The radiation is there to ‘douse’ any microscopic cancer cells too small to find. But in a best case scenario there are no cancer cells! It begs the question whether radiation is helping or hurting or maybe just wasting everyone’s time?

There’s no way to know. In my case radiation is a leap of faith in my doctors.

Radiation messes with the cancer cells’ DNA and stops them from multiplying. It messes with the healthy cells too, but they are able to repair themselves. That ability is missing in cancer.

As the ray gun travels around my body it’s beam’s shape and intensity constantly change. We want to zap what’s left of my pancreas while leaving adjacent organs, like my liver, alone. It’s not that easy.

The radiation oncologist works with a physicist and dosing specialist to map out a plan of attack. This is all custom medicine. Every day begins with a CTscan to make sure I’m lying in exactly the same position. It’s the precision of the beam that makes it all necessary and possible. It’s pretty close to magic.

Twenty three more radiation sessions to go before it’s back to chemo and then… (hopefully) donezo!

So Your Cancer Will Never Come Back?

Debby asks a good question. Will my cancer come back? The simple answer is, maybe. Unlike some other forms of cancer that are ‘helped’ along by environmental factors like smoking or air pollution, pancreatic cancer is more a question of luck. For whatever reason my body knows the formula to make pancreatic cancer cells.

The lasers are used to make sure I am in exactly the same piosition every time.

I am cancer free. My surgeons removed all that was seen. No cancer markers have been found in my blood. I’ve done chemo and now radiation to put out any embers which might have been missed.

My cancer treatment is definitely belt plus suspenders. It is very thorough.

Debby asks a good question. Will my cancer come back?

The simple answer is, maybe. Unlike some other forms of cancer that are ‘helped’ along by environmental factors like smoking or air pollution, pancreatic cancer is more a question of luck. For whatever reason my body knows the formula to make pancreatic cancer cells. It is as capable of making them today as it was last year (though I only have half my original pancreas left after Whipple surgery).

This means my relationship with my oncologist will run til the end of time! I won’t be getting treatment, but I will be getting my blood tested and having scans taken on a regular basis.

If my pancan does come back we should see it early enough to beat it down again. At least that’s the theory.