12 So it begins…

First off, I’d like to welcome all of you who are new to following my blog. It’s gratifying to know that my writing is of interest.

[Still holding off on the post about the Emergency Department at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. I’m working on it, but I need to write this post and at least one more first.]

Day before yesterday Carolyn drove me up to the North Island Hospital, Comox Valley Campus (I think that’s right) for my first chemotherapy treatment using a drug combination sometimes referred to as CyBorD. The ‘cy’ stands for cyclophosphamide, ‘bor’ stands for bortezomib and ‘d’ stands for dexamethasone. This article from 2009 suggests that this combination is associated with a very rapid response with manageable toxicity. I can only hope that it works for me.

I get the cyclophosphamide (cyclo) and the dexamethasone by tablet to be taken orally every seven days on a cycle of four weeks. I get a subcutaneous injection of bortezomib on the same day as I take the oral doses of the other two drugs. I get another drug by infusion once a month. It’s called zoledronic acid and is a bone strengthening medication often given to patients who have weakened bones due to cancer, which I do. I haven’t had my first injection of zoledronic acid yet but that’s coming soon.

So, I take a schwack of pills, probably fifteen, every Thursday morning then head up to the hospital in the afternoon for my bortezomib injection and for a visit with the oncology nurses. The oncology department at the hospital is superb. The staff is wonderful, calm, attentive and supportive.

The day before the day before yesterday Carolyn drove me to the hospital for a visit with the GP oncologist who is the local connection I have with the oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency in Victoria. Like the rest of the staff, Dr. Bakshi explained all the procedures I was about to experience calmly and attentively. One thing I appreciated with Dr. Bakshi was the way he explained the difference between myeloma and other forms of cancer. Myeloma is not like pancreatic cancer or other forms of virulent cancer. It’s more of a lay-low, make you sick for a long time type of cancer. It’s not unusual for people with myeloma to live ten years after being diagnosed and by then life is mostly a rear-view mirror phenomenon in any case. Myeloma is a disease mostly of older people.

I have to keep this post short because I have very little energy today. Yesterday I had a ‘high’ which was like I imagine I would feel after drinking twenty cups of strong coffee. Boy was I hyper! That’s caused by the dexamethasone. I had a hell of a time trying to sleep night before last, but last night was okay. I finally got a different prescription for my pain meds, hydromorphone. It’s a slow release prescription. I take two tablets a day twelve hours apart rather than taking two short acting tablets every four hours. I still have to get up to pee at night a couple of times, but not having the alarm go off every four hours is quite nice.

Today I got up feeling like I had a huge hangover. That feeling is still with me. It’s not all that pleasant, but it’s tolerable and I’m not going to complain about it. I knew that chemotherapy was not going to be a cake walk and I was right. I have a long way to go with it yet and the experience with it will change as I go along. I just hope I can tolerate this cocktail of meds and it doesn’t push my peripheral neuropathy to intolerable levels, nor does it damage my poor lone kidney.

More tomorrow if I can.

4 thoughts on “12 So it begins…

  1. Well…that blog sounds like the most promising and uplifting news I’ve seen from you for a bit. Makes my whole day!

    Frankly, I’m glad to see the chemo has started ….nothing like beginnings.

    Hang i there Roger – and keep kicking ass. A lot of people have got your back (well, actually I’m sure there are lots of moments you’ll like to trade your back for another!)

    Just to let you know….everyone I meet in Cumberland (not a cross-section nor a number sufficient for statistics, but several at least) are talking about you. Frankly, if it didn’t happen to you before, you now are having your 15 minutes of fame. Not only do I hear may “such a great guy” statements but mostly “what a gift he is giving us.” Many are in tears with both sadness and gratitude for this gift.

    Never a need to respond to my emails. Conserve your energy for something more important…your well being and your family.

    Just wanted to say that even those of us who aren’t religious are holding you in our thoughts and wishes.

    Hugs, bette



  2. Not a war on drugs but drugs waging war. I’m cheering them on. Meanwhile it is fascinating to learn about the quirks of MM though I sorely wish it was not through the autoethnography of a good friend!


    1. Thank you so much, Marilyn. We still have so much to learn about myeloma. I read the odd scholarly article about it and there is some good news out there about survivability, but remission is the most we can hope for. But, heh, I’m 73. No whining from this guy. A few more years won’t make a big difference but I want them anyway!


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