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The Next Phase

So I had routine follow up blood work scheduled towards the end of the month. However, Cyndy had an uneasy feeling about waiting so long before the next test, and she insisted I schedule over a week earlier than I was supposed to.

Woman’s intuition maybe, but sure enough the AFP marker slowed it’s decent and over the next couple weeks started to make a climb. Ultimate sadness. My cancer had been exposed to enough chemotherapy that it has, in some small way, become resistant. My AFP marker went down to 20, and over the last month has risen to 50, better than the monolithic number it started at, but not a good trend.

So now we have more decisions to make, and they only get harder from here. The doctor is officially recommending High-Dose Chemo. Not really a good success rate and plenty of challenges, including but not limited to potential of: permanent hearing loss, permanent neuropathy in the hands and feets, permanent organ and bone damage, plus elevated risk of a laundry list of other cancers. I’ve heard enough stories and testimonials, this next phase isn’t pleasant in the slightest. It’s so brutal that it requires a 3 week hospital stay where they transfuse your own bone marrow stem cells back into you to prevent you from dying of anemia.

I’ve just completed the minor surgery to get a central line port installed in my chest. Evidently, the chemo will collapse all but the biggest veins. At any rate, I’m not scheduled for my first infusion yet, but sometime in the next week or month I’ll be undertaking the next phase of treatment. The journey is taking another turn, I plan to be racecar ready..

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The Rest of the Cycles

So, I’m skipping ahead here, but basically I got through the last two cycles with increasing pain, misery, and medications. Every cycle means that the pain comes quicker and the recovery is a little slower. It’s a mental battle every step of the way, there aren’t any single events that are impossible to get through by themselves. However, once they get stacked up over the days, it starts to feel like mountain climbing with fragile equipment. Any normal challenge could send you tumbling off the mountain.

The support from all of our friends and family made it possible to get through these trying times. We would not have made it without the tremendous outpouring, I can’t even begin to thank everyone.

The real recovery started after that fourth round ended. I kept getting monitored every two weeks, and the AFP marker just kept falling according to schedule.

Months rolled by slowly, the pandemic had everything shutdown tight, and only showed signs of getting more entrenched. The family kept to ourselves for the most part, trying to keep our risk low. We got through Christmas and New Years, mostly without event.

I am getting another blood test soon, then we will probably switch to a longer testing interval. The treatment is starting to look fairly successful.