Cancer Journal 14, 2019

Thursdays are “talk with the doctor” days after radiation treatment. First, a nurse weighs the patient, then another nurse queries the patient about any problems or questions, then a dietitian asks probing questions about the patient’s appetite and discusses his weight loss, and then the doctor comes in for a brief visit. At least that’s the way it works with me. I don’t know if the same protocol is followed with other patients, but I suspect so; that, or something very close.

Today, I was advised that I’d lost three pounds since last week. For me, that was a positive. For the dietitian, not so much. She wants me to drink a “Boost” a day. I told her I am eating quite well, better in fact than I should. The weight loss, I told her, probably is attributable to the utter absence from my diet of alcohol. I tend to enjoy my wine with a vengeance, which tends to wreak havoc on my mid-section, making it impossible to button my pants over my belly. Instead, I wear them low, over my hips. It has always been thus, though, so it’s not a new development. The dietitian—Jennifer is her name, I think—was unmoved by my effort to blame the absence of red wine from my diet. I promised I would consider adding Boost or Ensure to my diet, a lie that seemed to sufficiently satisfy her and cause her to bid me adieu. The doctor’s visit was short and perfunctory. When he asked if I had any questions, I asked whether, after completing my 30 radiation treatments, I would need to see him again periodically. He said I would need to see someone, probably my oncologist, every three months for five years, at which time, if all goes according to plan, I can be considered “cured” of cancer. Every three months for five years. That will involve, at least to some extent, blood work, CT scans, and other such invasive or intrusive or just plain annoying medical processes.

Other than the gloomy prospect of at least quarterly doctor visits for five years (that’s at least twenty visits, in case I’m counting), my news is good (knock on wood). My fatigue seems to have diminished considerably and my general state of feeling reasonably well has stabilized for now. I’m not particularly peppy, but neither am I spending most of my time in a recliner or heading toward one.

Just nineteen more radiation treatments. Hallelujah! I just wish the pains in my gut would disappear. And I’m occasionally finding that I have “stuff” in my windpipe that “rattles” each time I inhale and exhale until I manage to force it out with earthshaking coughs. I failed to mention that to the doctor. I probably should. There’s next week for that.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to Cancer Journal 14, 2019

  1. bev wigney says:

    Actually, your ice cream is just fine. Anything that gives you some extra calories will work.

  2. I will heed your admonition, Bev. It’s probably not what anyone had in mind, but I’ve packed on some calories with caramel pecan ice cream. I then had some pumpkin pecan spice ice cream. Between the two of them, I’ve probably socked on a thousand extra calories. Your smoothie sounds far more healthy and nutritional than my ice cream, but my ice cream was a very rare indulgence, so I’ll give myself a break. But maybe I’ll explore something along the lines of what you described. I am thrilled to be almost half way through my radiation!

  3. bev wigney says:

    Do watch your weight a bit — I’m sure you’re quite right about losing weight from cutting out wine, but I also understand the nutritionist’s point of view. Radiation and chemo are both hard on the body at a cellular level – and they take it out on your cell production. They can cause pretty dramatic weight loss over time and once that starts to happen, the loss can snowball pretty quick — which is why they weigh you each week and make a fuss over a drop of even one or two pounds. Again, this is a cumulative thing — not much as first, but can pick up speed once it gets going. Doing treatments is like running a marathon, so you have to do what you can to keep your energy levels up. Don hated Boost, so we made a sort of power smoothie once a day — fresh fruit, a banana, yogurt, hemp powder – about the size of a big milkshake which he sipped on as he felt like it during the day. He was able to pretty much maintain his weight through very vigorous chemo and radiation, although I think he lost about 20 pounds even with all that. Anyhow, that kind of food helps with maintaining energy as well as weight, so worth it just for that. The windpipe thing may be irritation from the radiation. Good to mention it though just so it’s on your chart. Carry on! You’ll soon be half way through the radiation!

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