Colon Cancer Sucks Ass

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Request

I try to keep this blog fairly light and to see the humorous side of things, but there are times when it's just not possible. Colon cancer is a horrible and unpredictable disease (as is cancer in general).

I noticed that my blog page hits have been pretty high for the last couple of weeks despite a lack of updates on my part. I checked out my site statistics which revealed a large number of hits coming from a couple of old links on a blog about another young woman with colon cancer. Because of the dramatic increase in hits from old link, I checked out her blog. She is in the hospital and not doing very well. She is married with two young children and they have basically run out of treatment options.

Please take the time to visit Jennifer Ireland and leave a message of support for her and her family.

Thank you.

Second Parially List-y Update

Okay, I forgot a couple of things in the last list. Oops.

1. I had a CT scan before Christmas. The results were great. There was no detectable disease. The only abnormality was one slightly swollen lymph node which could likely be due to infection (I still had a severe rash at the time of the scan).

2. I've decide to sell some of my books and clear out the DVDs that are still left from the October 2005 benefits. All of them are listed here (my seller name is "chelenan". If you are interested, you can purchase them through or let me know and we can work something out.

3. I missed my determatology appointment two weeks ago (thank you LA traffic) and finally got in to see the doctor today. He was very happy with the progress we've made with my rash, but wants me to go back on tetracycline for a few months to get things completely cleared up. He also gave me samples of a benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin gel that my insurance won't cover. I'm very hopeful that this will clear up the remaining redness.

I'm working to organize all of my files and medical paperwork before I start classes next week. It stresses me out to have that stack of stuff just sitting there so that will be my focus for the next few days - at least until Superbowl Sunday since anyone who knows me knows how psyched I am for the game. (Ha ha!)

Finally, I want to wish a belated, but very happy birthday to my good friend Desiree! Sorry I missed it, but I hope it was great!

Monday, January 29, 2007

An Update in List Form

It's been a while since I updated so here it goes:

1. Because of my ongoing problems with low platelet counts which have led to an inability to continue with chemo, my oncologist switched my treatment in December. He put me on Erbitux and Avastin. Both are monoclonal antibodies, targeted therapies that can be administered with a low platelet count. I have been on Avastin since December 2005 with a three month break last summer. This was my first experience with Erbitux. 90% of patients on Erbitux experience an acne-like rash. I had an extreme reaction (what a surprise). My oncologist told me last week that it was the worst he had seen. It was so bad that two Vicodin every four hours did not control the pain. I ruined a number of old tshirts because of the bleeding. I started seeing a dermatologist and it has almost completely cleared up. I still have some remaining redness, but for the most part it is gone. It took about six weeks. I had to stop the Erbitux and I have asked not to restart it. I would consider taking it in the future, but currently, with no evidence of disease, I am not willing to go through the pain and to be stared at everywhere I go.

2. I was tested (back in November, I think) for a heparin-induced platelet antibody and the test came back as a borderline positive. Since receiving the results, I have not had any more heparin (an anti-coagulant used to keep my portacathter clear) and initially there was a jump in my platelet count. Last week I had blood work done again, but my platelets had dropped back down. I was hoping that they'd be up so I could finish my treatment of Xeloda and Avastin, but no such luck. I still can't take any chemo drugs. My oncologist is going to rerun the other platelet antibody test (which also came back borderline positive) to see if that is the problem. We'll see...

3. Since I won't take Erbitux and can't take Xeloda, we've decided to continue treatment with Avastin alone. I will go through two months with Avastin administered biweekly and at that point, I will stop treatments.

4. I have posted previously about my shoulder pain. I went in for a follow-up with my PCP and explained to him that the pain goes away for awile and then it comes back for a few days. He is concerned because I have the pain in both shoulders so he has ordered further testing. I have had more blood tests and some xrays. Next week, I have to go in for a bone scan and physical therapy. I'm not overly concerned about this. I think it's just some inflamation that I keep irritating and I can't take any anti-inflammatory drugs because they all affect platelets.

5. School resumes next week. I am not taking a full time load this semester (although I'm only one credit short). I am enrolled in Preparation for General Chemisty, Introduction to Macroeconomics and Psychology. Unfortunately, I have to miss the first day of classes because there is a student visit day for fall applicants of my graduate school program. I have left a message and emailed the professor trying to clear the absense ahead of time. Otherwise, I'll have to leave the student visit day for a short time to check in at the beginning of class.

I think there were a couple other things that I was going to mention, but I'm drawing a blank right now. I apologize to anyone who has emailed me in the last couple of months without getting a reply. I do still have the emails and I hope to finish responding to them this week.