Cycle 4 – Day 12: Figuring things out

Later in the Cycle is not so good for long distance, high intensity cycling. Who knew!

In today’s FOG ride I was starting to struggle as we came up to Hwy 44, 60km into the route. Would I push on to Birds Hill park, or listen to my body and cut the ride short a bit. The body won out and I took an easy pace back to the Legion parking lot via Henderson Highway. Pretty zapped when I got back and spent most of the afternoon laying around and napping.

I guess effects of the chemo on my blood chemistry really are taking a toll on my stamina and endurance. I know that things like WBC (White Blood Cell) and a whole lot of other things are well below normal levels.

In general, I’m still feeling quite well. Breathing is good and so is my appetite 🙂 Nothing to complain about here as the treatments seem to be having the desired effect. I’ll know more specifically how the treatment is going after the September 6th CT scan is reviewed with the oncologist on September 10th

Cycle 4 – Day 2: Doping works for me

Today’s ride was much better that last weeks! I was able to keep pace with the group, take my turn on the front several times, and get up the small hills on our route in an acceptable manner.

A couple of changes since last weeks disaster. The Karma road bike is fix with new shifter cables and housings and a shifting tune-up, and I have 200mg of Prednisone on board as part of my chemotherapy regime. While I’m sure this is not what the pros might use, I’m pretty sure this steroid is on the banned substance list!

This stuff gets you pretty jacked up. I was awake last night form 2-4am and then got up for a light breakfast and some reading. After that I caught a short nap before getting up for the day feeling quite talkative and energetic. I suspect there will be an early night crash to come, but generally a great day!

Cycle 4 – Day 1: Half Way

Today marks the half way mark in the planned treatment program and we’re back in the chair for another chemo treatment.

Strangly, it’s getting harder to do. Physically, things are pretty good but psychologically I’m less and less “up” for the process. Perhaps the seriousness of the situation is sinking in. Last night’s sleep was restless and I think with all the benedryl I’ll get today it’s likely that I’ll be taking it easy for the afternoon. Either that or because I’ll be jacked up on Prednisone I’ll be washing the car and doing all kinds of stuff around the house. 😳💪

The IV is hooked up and the pre-treatment stuff is flowing in.

The retuximab injection is next.

You know the chemicals are serious stuff when the nurse is fully gowned and wearing gloves just to carry the drugs from wherever they mix up the concoction to my chair side.

I napping in the chair for a good part of the treatment and before you know it, I’m done.

Cycle 3 – Day 16: Tough Ride

I was out on the bike today riding with my usual Wednesday group but things didn’t go as expected.

I use my cycling experiences as a way of gauging how I’m doing physically. With the heart rate monitor, power metre and just how I’m handling the pace with my fellow riders I can judge pretty accurately if things are getting better or worse.

A few weeks ago I had a great ride on the same route. Lots of energy and able to ride up the hills with the group no problem. This week, not so much. It was a real struggle on the last 30km just to keep going and get back home. I found this to be quite discouraging.

Now there were some mitigating factors that probably played into my struggles. Just before leaving home I was checking over the bike because on the last ride the front derailleur was not shifting up into the big ring. As I investigated, the cable snapped! This would be a simple repair, but not in the next 10 minutes. I needed to leave shortly to meet the group at 10am.

Decision time, skip the ride or take another bike. I really wanted to ride so the next best bike for the group ride is Jake the Snake, my cyclocross bike. This is a great bike but significantly different from the Kuota Kharma carbon road bike. Jake is heavier, tires are 40mm vs. 23mm etc. but I thought I could overcome these differences with a little extra effort and be able to keep up with the group.

Jake is not as bad as this but at times it felt like it. 😀

We joke all the time about how flat our rides are here in Manitoba and often say the lack of climbing is compensated by the Prarie wind. Well, today there was a fairly strong wind from the south, so the first half of the ride would be straight into it.

I don’t like to blame my equipment or the weather for a bad ride, but I think they both played into my difficulties.

A short distance into the ride I knew that there was going to be a problem. I limited my time on the front and tried to stay in the draft as much as possible. Around the half way mark I couldn’t maintain the 30-32km/hr pace and was dropping off the back. The group is really great and they know my situation and inspite of me telling them to go on without me they slowed the page to a more manageable 28-30km/hr and stuck with me to the end of the ride.

So in the end I’m left wonder was it the bike, the wind, me or all three? I’ll discount the wind a there is almost always some of that to contend with. The bike for sure would make some difference but I wouldn’t have thought it would have accounted for my extreme fatigue and the struggle to complete the ride. That leaves “me” as the most likely factor. I don’t like to think that the chemo is making me weaker and having this kind of effect on my endurance. On the last 2 group rides I’ve been “that slow guy” that is holding everyone else back. I got to admit I don’t like that feeling but I guess that’s just the way it is right now. Also, it makes me a little worried about the impact of the next 3 cycles (9 weeks). Will I get even weaker or was this just a blip? I guess time will tell.

Cycle 3 – Day 1: Always something new

Today I’m back at St. Boniface Hospital for the start of Cycle 3 and the now familiar pills, injections and IV drugs which are having great effect on reducing the cancer symptoms.

However, just when you think you know what to expect, something new happens. Shortly after the Rituximab injection I started to have a little tickle in my throat and was coughing a bit. The nurse noticed this right away and started asking questions about it and took my vital signs (all good) and looked at the injection site for any redness etc. (none found). She then called the oncologist and they decided to classify this as a “reaction” to the drug. As a result I was give more Benadryl via IV and about an additional 30 minutes of monitoring before resuming the other chemotherapy drugs. The coughing was quite minor and stopped in about 10 minute so I didn’t think much of it but they took it quite seriously. The net result was that the session was a fair bit longer that the last time due to delay in getting started plus this mid-treatment time-out as well as a very lazy afternoon as the Benadryl seemed to make me quite tires/sleepy.

Cycle 2 – Day 21

Blood testing and Doctor visit today in preparation for the start of Cycle 3 tomorrow.

For some strange reason I’m a little apprehensive about tomorrow’s chemo. Perhaps it’s that the mystery is gone after having treatments at both HSC and St. Boniface and from here on in it should be about the same. Perhaps it’s the realization about how long this will be and how much is still ahead. Perhaps it’s the way cancer, the drugs, the injections, the schedule and symptoms are always in the back of my mind if not in the forefront. I’m trying not to let this occupy all of my life but it feels like so much is on hold until this is dealt with.

I’m finding it difficult with all that’s happened so far in 2018 as well as making the adjustment into retirement to find my purpose and establish the flow and rhythm of my life that makes sense for me.

Cycle 2 – Day 14: All Good

I haven’t posted for a while and I’m feeling like I should add to the blog but in reality not too much is happening, which is a good thing.

My symptoms continue to be less and less and by that I mean I’m feeling pretty normal. Chemo side effects are minimal so it seems like future Cycles are likely to be like 1 &2, also a good thing.

I’m spending quite a bit of time at the lake both with just Shirley and I as well as lots of weekends with family and friends, more goodness.

Cycle 2 – Day 2: Sleepless in Seattle

Well, actually Sleepless in Winnipeg. I’m awake at 2am and it seems like going back to sleep is not an option and I get up at 2:45. Other than this I’m feeling fine, perhaps a very slight headache.

A good time to catch up on the Tour de France and watch Stage 4. Will Peter Segan take the win?

The peloton cruising along at 51 km/h

Cycle 2 Day 1: Back in the chair

Here is where I’ll be spending the morning at St Boniface hospital getting my cycle 2 chemo treatment. Thanks to Mandy for the ride in. It was nice to see the grandkids who were banished to the 3rd row seating because they might have been exposed to something from some other kids. Apparently, I’m supposed to be careful about things like this as getting an infection would be a  BIG deal. Better safe that sorry in this case.

Just when you think your getting the hang of the routine there is something new. The “R” drug that was a 3 hour slow IV process is now a 5 minute injection since there was no problem with reactions to the 1st round. The nurse and I chat as she squeezes in the drug subcutaneously into my stomach area. Again, no adverse reaction, so all is good.

9:40 am and the “R” (rituximab) is done. Starting to feel a little sleepy from the benadryl and it’s on with the other drugs in the CHOP-R protocol.

The rest of the procedure is as expected, and the time seems to fly by. We’re done by 11:45 and Mandy picked us up for the ride home. Cycle 4 is scheduled for July 31, 2018.

While I don’t have a lot of experience with the group interactions in the chemo therapy room, today is proving quite interesting. One of the ladies across form me is quite talkative with all the nurses and with the lady in the chair next to her. They are both in their 40s and are sharing their beast cancer experience. The most hilarious discussion so far was that she went to high school with the surgeon that did her lumpectomy. Upon meeting her surgeon pre-op she told him that when in high school he likely wanted to see her breasts and that he now has “full access” to them 😄. I think the stories will continue all morning long.