Confirmed Diagnosis - (Journal Date: 3/9/05)
My HPRHS oncologist confirmed my diagnosis from Wake Forest Baptist Hospital with me and answered questions about my proposed treatment. He remained focused on the positive and assured me that at my age, physical condition, and extent of disease, that we were going for a "full cure" which I obviously found very reassuring. We discussed the probable side effects of the pending chemo including hair loss, fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, and soaking night sweats. We were given the 24/7 number to call and reminded that any fever greater than 100.5 degrees was dangerous and needed immediate attention.
We did talk about my prognosis in general terms including remission rates and cure rates. Without spending much time on statistics, my doctor preferred to highlight the fact that we caught the cancer early, that it was small in size, had not spread, and that my positive attitude would help with treatment response.
I know that cancer is a disease for which the "first shot" at treatment is the most important. I did ask about the potential for relapse, especially within the first two years after treatment. He acknowledged that the milestone years would be 1, 3, and 5-years, but I was ready to get on with the program we outlined.
My proposed treatment plan included administering chemotherapy through a porta-cath surgically placed in the chest just under the skin. A total of six (6) out-patient treatment cycles were planned. Rituxin would be given on Wednesdays (4 hours) followed by the rest of the CHOP on Fridays (2 hours). Chemo cycles would be repeated every 3 weeks. Blood work would be done between cycles for my doctor to monitor and evaluate blood cell counts, chemistry, organ function, and any unusual side effects. Hair loss was pretty much guaranteed and I began to study up on the likely side effects and spoke to others who had been through it.
No specific diet was prescribed other than maintaining good nutrition. "If everything is going to taste bad (metallic), you might as well eat healthy." I was encouraged to experiment with different foods and drinks. I have always been big on fruits and veggies and like to have broiled fish or baked/grilled boneless chicken breast. I found it helpful to drink tons of water each day to stay hydrated. My doctor summed it up pretty well, "...you need to be eating a healthy diet to keep your strength up for treatment. I don't want you to lose any weight, there will be time for that after treatments." I personally don't believe a "magic diet" will take cancer away. I prefer to work towards a balanced and nutrituous diet to help my body respond to treatments.
Finally, there were no restrictions put on exercise. I had been working out at the HPRHS Fitness Center for years, and so I was advised to listen to my body and do only what it would allow. My body would feel like an older athlete that could still do the activities that I had been doing, but I would tire much more easily and take longer to bounce back due to a lack of stamina.
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