Round 2 of Chemo is in the Books

My parents arrived in town Wednesday, February 18th (staying until the 25th-one week) for the second chemo treatment which was Friday, February 20, 2015.

The treatment consisted of:

Flush??-20 min
Benedryl-syringe (takes 2 seconds)

Antibody (Avastin)-30 minutes

FOL– Folinic acid (leucovorin)
F – Fluorouracil (5-FU)
OX – Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)-2 hours

The 5-FU is administered via a take home pump over approximately 46 hour period. They give you a syringe full, called a “push” before they start the pump because they’ve found that’s more effective.

The treatment itself took about 4 hours this time. I was there for over 2.5 hours for the blood draw and oncology appointment ahead of time. I assume the appointments before treatment were a little longer due to volume of patients seen this day, as the first week was much quicker.

I was pretty tired during chemo due to the Benedryl. Wasn’t much for company this time. I struggled to stay awake. Next time I’ll definitely sleep rather than fight it to impress my guests, JK.

Walking out of the hospital, I think the temperature was approximately ABSOLUTE ZERO!!! Or likely in the single digits with the windchill. I was told I likely wouldn’t have the hand/foot neuropathy until down the road as the OX?? built up in my system. This was not the case. I couldn’t feel that it was actually cold, but my face (lips) and hands and feet were instantly tingling, then feeling the pins and needles. I asked my parents if it was super cold out, as I was quite shocked by what I was feeling. They simply said yes, as I race walked away from them to the car quickly.

Lucky for me I left my gloves in the freezing car for the last 6.5 hours. Yahoo!! By the time I got to the car I felt like I was getting electrocuted in the hands and fingers. It was pretty great. My “driver” warmed up some gloves for me quickly by blowing in them. Just to put them on was pretty painful. After a few minutes, the shocking resumed to pins and needles for awhile. I guess I learned my lesson.

I also had the neuropathy in my mouth and throat again (had this the first day of treatment). Same feeling, pins and needles on the tongue and throat. I just had to avoid drinking anything cold. By cold, I think anything below a warm room temperature was included. Kind of annoying.

Other than that, Friday was pretty easy. There is a little anxiety feeling I think due to the steroid, almost an irritability and speediness of the heart and thoughts. This can be controlled with Xanax pretty easily. I still felt fine Saturday all day. I attended my company holiday party that night. Avoided cold/free alcoholic drinks, sadly.

Sunday morning, I woke up pretty early. Went down to the basement and rode Kelley’s spin bike for about 20 minutes. I wondered if I was feeling alright, since it’s been down there awhile and I’d never ridden it before. I felt fine the rest of the day. Took an hour nap just after lunch. About 2:30pm, we (myself, Angela, Compton and my parents) headed out to the Barnes Home Care facility to have the pump removed from my port. Angela and Compton were taught by the nurse how to do this. It’s a pretty simple procedure. Consists of detaching the pump and then flushing the port, etc in a sterile manner. They were both very impressive. Angela was exceptional at the 30 second “hub scrub”. These little hub scrubbers are going to do great next time, I can just feel it. We capped off the day with some wings and beer (water for this elephant) back in the city.

Woke up today (Monday) feeling fine, yet again. Went to work. Felt a little tired around lunch time, remedied with a little coffee. Feeling better now.

Not much planned for the night. Dinner with the folks and friends, my mom made my favorite dessert. Tomorrow I think we’re going to the Blues hockey game. The Canadians will be happy to see the Canadiens play. Then they will be off to Canada the following morning to warmer temperatures hopefully!! It’s been warmer there this entire time, poor chaps.

Until next time.

Frequently ANSWERED Questions….

1) How did you know you had “the cancer” Jill and what type is it?

Well “insert your name”, I knew because my doctor just told me at the end of January. I underwent numerous scans/tests (ultra sound, CT’s, MRI, hemangioma scan, blood tests, etc.) and eventually a colonoscopy confirmed my dreaded diagnosis. The spots on my liver were detected at the beginning of December (2014). There were scans and tests performed in order to try to rule things out (benign tumors). When the scans and tests hinted that it could be metastasized tumors, more scans were performed looking to identify a primary tumor site (which happened to be in my Sigmoid colon-confirmed via colonoscopy). The actual diagnosis (I think) is malignant neoplasm (I believe an adenocarcinoma) of the sigmoid colon with metastasis to the liver. The fact that it has spread to the liver makes it Stage 4, however this is a very treatable/survivable stage 4 cancer, not like some of the others. So don’t freak.

2) What were your symptoms and did you feel any pain? Did your poop look different?

My poop came out looking like a rainbow. Just kidding. I didn’t really have a lot of symptoms or so it’s actually just very easy to pass symptoms off or ignore them. Supposedly younger people with this type of cancer do not feel much different physically. I had some discomfort in my stomach/abdomen area off and on for months. Didn’t think much of it. As for my stool… well… hmm… I had some blood (red in color-can be darker if near the stomach or beginning of digestive tract) in my stool over the summer. This was passed off by my doctor, as it is very common if individuals don’t consume enough fiber and could have an “irritation” (HEMI) near the end of your digestive tract. I think I had noticed a little blood each year randomly. Again, never thought twice about it. It would only last a couple of weeks at most. I did notice within the last year that the girth of my stools had changed slightly, just smaller. Not the “ribboning” as is classic with a colon obstruction. It’s good to make note of any consistent change I guess. I think I ignored a lot of symptoms that should have been obvious, had I taken my family history into account or even just been aware that this could be a possibility in future. Clearly something had been going on for a number of years in order for this condition to be as advanced as it is. I was told it could have been present for the last 8-10 years, possibly.

3) What kind of treatment are you undergoing?

I have started chemotherapy (with an antibody) and will hopefully be a candidate for surgery in future.

FOL: folonic acid (leucovorin)
F: fluorouracil (5FU) adrucil
OX: OXALIPLATIN (eloxatin)
antibody: AVASTIN

My treatments right now are every other Friday. They last about 5 hours. I am set to have 4 treatments over 2 months and then undergo a scan (PET or CAT?) to check and see how it is working. The goal is to get the cancer under control. First, to stop it from the possibility of spreading or creating new tumors and stop current tumors from growing. Next, we hope to see the current tumors in my liver start to shrink (small ones should hopefully disappear-via magic and smoke and mirrors of course). If they can get the tumors to shrink I could possibly have a couple of surgeries to remove most of my liver (don’t worry, it regenerates) and part of my colon.

4) How long will you undergo treatment?

There’s no real time frame on treatment, it will all depend on how the cancer responds to the treatment.  Everybody is different and every case is unique. There are other options if they are not achieving the desired result. I will know more after each two month treatment plan.

5) Will you get sick from your chemo or lose your beautiful hair?

Side effects from chemo are all different, based on the type of chemo and then also on the individual.  People can have no side effects or all of them, or somewhere in between. It all depends on how an individual metabolizes the drugs. It also can take time for the drugs to build up in your system, therefore side effects can be worse later in treatment. As for my sweet, sweet hair, I should be fine. It may thin a little. I don’t have much to begin with, but the type of chemo I’m on doesn’t usually cause patients to lose their hair (even though Compton REALLY wants to shave her head).

6) Can I buy you a drink?

Heck yeah! Non-alcoholic ONLY. I’m crying on the inside.  Not really. I’ve had to basically stop drinking completely (aside from a drink maybe once a week or so). My liver is working overtime, having to work harder than ever to filter it’s regular workload. The liver filters and breaks down foods, medications, pretty much anything that goes into the blood stream, I think. It is obviously easier not to add insult to it’s injury, as having to break down alcohol is not it’s priority right now.

Why doesn’t this blog have a name?

Well, because naming a blog is ridiculously hard…you try it…seriously, it sucks. So to show you how hard it really is we’re going to list of few of our failed attempts to find the perfect name for the Jill Mac Blog…

JM:  Cancer Road…Take me Home (with John Denver music in the background)

AC:  Dear Cancer

JM:  Puke a Mile in My Shoes

JM:  Canadianwithcancer

AC:  So Cancer Walks Into a Bar

JM:  If It’s Not Cancer It’s Crap!

AC:  We’re All About That Bass…No Cancer…I’m Bringing Chemo Back!

JM:  Oh-Cancer-Da (Canadian National Anthem)

AC:  Silver Linings Cancer Playbook

JM:  Port Break…Starring Keanu Reeves and Jill Mac

AC:  The Cancerfather…Starring the Mich Light Mafia

JM:  Cancer Act…Starring Whoopie and Jill Mac

AC:  Cancers on the Side…also Starring Whoopie and Jill Mac

JM:  Million Dollar Cancer…Starring Hiliary Swank and Jill Mac

AC:  I Rode Through Chemo on a Port with No Name

JM:  If My Port Could Talk

AC:  Billie Jean is Not My Cancer…It’s Just a Cell that Claims that I am the One

JM:  Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, This is Your Cancer Speaking

AC:  The Hill is Alive with the Sound of Cancer

JM:  Cancer Chief…Suck My Dick!

AC:  You Say Potato…I Say Cancer

JM:  Why Did the Cancer Cross the Road?

JM:  Cancer for $1,000 Alex!

AC:  The Good, the Bad, the Cancer

JM:  The Young and the Cancerless

AC:  The Days of My Cancer

JM:  Has Anybody Seen My Cancer?

AC:  Knock, Knock.  Who’s There?  I Have Cancer.

JM:  Cancer Made Fun

AC:  Cancer Isn’t Funny But This Blog Is

JM:  Cancer By Number

AC:  The History of Cancer…My Cancer Tree

JM:  Don’t Step in My Diarrhea…Verbal or Rectal

AC:  Liverwurst…I Mean Worst Liver

JM:  Senseofhumorrequired

AC:  Pandas With Cancer

Please feel free to send us some new ideas of your own!

Funny ones of course.



“Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.” ~ Grenville Kleiser