Health Update from Rich

Well, it’s been a month since my last update. Here’s a little of what we’ve learned in 40 days of chemo:

I guess the most obvious development over the last month has been the loss of my hair. It started falling out right on schedule about 21 days into chemo. My hair is pretty thick, so I was able to hang onto for a couple more weeks, but this past Tuesday the Head Blade came out, and the hair came off. For the first three days, I would jump every time I saw myself in the mirror, but I’m starting to get used to it. The top of my head is still pretty white…need to get some sun on that.

The second thing we’re learning about is called, “Neutropenia.” This is a condition caused by the chemo destroying my good, germ-fighting white blood cells faster than my body can regenerate them. When my neutrophils drop below a certain level, I become dangerously susceptible to infections, with no way to fight the infection on my own. It seems that there is a 4-7 day period in each chemo cycle when I am neutropenic, and during that period I have to be very careful about what I eat, as well as coming into contact with anyone who may be sick. The weird thing is that I usually feel pretty strong during that same period. So, I’m at my most vulnerable, even though I feel good.

The third thing we’re trying to figure out is the nausea. It’s pretty intense and non-relenting for about four or five days after chemo. There are many side effects (you really don’t want me to tell you about them all), but nausea is the one that most interferes with work and family life. This week we’re going to try a Sancuso patch in addition to the other anti-emetics I am taking, and hope that helps. The super-fun thing about the chemo is that the side-effects are cumulative, which means that, so far, each round has been a little more difficult than the one before. Here’s hoping the new patch is a success!

We sure do appreciate all of your love and support. The prayers mean more than either you or I will ever know, and we still believe God is watching over every sparrow. Thank you so much for the meals you’ve delivered, the rides you’ve offered, and the odd jobs around the house you’ve helped with. We’ve never felt more loved.

Up next: a PET scan on December 31 that will hopefully show the chemo is doing its job!

19 weeks and counting…