Triple Header

Today is a three event special, blood work, an IVIG treatment and a visit with the doctor.

Also, a quick update on my Ride To Conquer Cancer bike ride. Thanks to many generous donors my ride raised $2,696.10 which qualified me for this sharp “Ambassador” jersey.

Ready to start the ride.

The overall ride raised $9.9 million for cancer research! I ended up riding 125km in the Kenora area on a Sunday afternoon. My ride took me from the Storm Bay road down to Sioux Narrows and back. I wrote about the ride details over here.

The blood work results were a surprise and a disappointment. At six months post treatment the various blood components are supposed to be recovering and things like white blood cells, hemoglobin and neutrophils should be returning to normal ranges. I was expecting a good improvement with the latest testing but it was not the case. Numbers actually decreased or held steady at a below normal level.

Hemoglobin (HgB) and Platelets (PLTs)
White Blood cell Count (WBC)
Neutrophils (Things that fight infections, kind of important these days. Also, the temporary spikes into the “good” zone were induced by Grastofil injections)

I know it’s just one data point and these things can go up & down but, still a big disappointment that needed a little processing, so I went for a bike ride. While I was out riding a song came to me and I sang it as best I could. Helped a lot.

Your promises still stand
Great is Your faithfulness”

Do It Again – Elevation Worship

The IVIG treatment, which should be the last, proceeded without any incident and took the usual two hours as they ramp up the infusion rate in stages, which kind of drags out the process.

The doctor visit is basically a check in to see how I’m feeling, if I have any questions etc. I’m feeling fine with good energy, appetite and sleeping well. Six months post CAR-T is fast approaching and they will schedule a PET scan to check on what’s happening.

With the cancer, it’s been pretty much top of mind for the last three years. I doubt if there has been a day where I have not thought about it. The only variable is how much I think about it. You try to blank it out, let it go, think on what is lovely and pure (Phil 4:8) etc. but it manages to creep in anyway. What helps is the amount of time between hospital visits. As the space between visits increased its easier to “forget” about what has happened, what is going on now, or what might be happening in the future. And then there are the big checkpoints like the PET scan which will confirm that I’m still in remission. Hard to believe it’s been six months. So much has happened in my and Shirley’s lives.

Cycle 1 Day 3: I wish the stock markets would perform like this

This one is for you Shaun

Not an April fools Day joke!

Since putting on a little weight over the Christmas holidays and with the upcoming outdoor cycling season approaching I thought it would be a good idea to drop a little weight. Way better to do that than becoming a “cycling weight weenie” who spends big bucks to have a bicycle that weighs a few ounces less. To that end I have been exercising fairly consistently on the indoor trainer, lifting some weights, and sort of watching what I eat. I’d been making good progress towards a tentative target of between 200-210 lbs, In fact March 30, 2020 was 210.8. And then the unexpected happened!

This morning, right out of bed like all other weigh ins, I hop on the scale and it proclaims 226 lbs!!! Hey, that can’t be right but, after 6 repeats with the exact same number it seems to be true. I’m up 16 lbs in 2 days! I’m not eating that much and last nights dinner was a very restrained bowl of Shirley’s delicious home made chicken soup and a cheese biscuit, plus water to drink.

So, I share this with Shirley who immediately breaks out in uncontrolled hilarious laughter and then informs me “Now you know how women feel.” This laughter carries on for quite some time. Then we’re in the kitchen and she is looking at me from behind and says “Maybe you shouldn’t wear plaid for now”. More uncontrolled hilarious laughter. I respond with “Do my plaid pyjama pants make my a** look fat?”. More laughter. Oh well, laughter does good like a medicine.

On a more serious note I did check in with the oncologist and the response was “Yeah, the drugs and increased fluid intake can do that”. So, no worries.

Pre-PET Scan

Just a photo I took recently that I like. Nothing to do with anything here

Well, tomorrow is the PET scan and I guess I’m a little bored so here’s a trivial update and a little whining.

This testing stuff & COVID-19 is really messing up my workout schedule! I know this is trivial but whatever. Wednesday is normally my outside bike ride with a couple of fellow retirees. One of the guys now has his ride day limited to Tuesdays due to some facility restrictions so we’d planed on shifting our ride to Tuesday. Then the PET scan was scheduled on Tuesday. Then the PET scan was re-scheduled to Wednesday but part of the scan prep is no “strenuous exercise” for the preceding 24 hours. So, no Tuesday or Wednesday riding, and no weight lifting today, so here I am doing this .

Enough of that! On another note the port insertion procedure is healing up well and I’ve added to my scar collection. I’m sure there is a reason why they couldn’t cut on the pre-existing dotted line, just above the current incision bandage. :-). The one up on the neck is net new. Somehow last time then didn’t cut there, but the incision site seems to have been a lot bigger. Too much detail? I guess we all have some extra time on our hands.

Another pre-scan prep item is no sugar and no carbs so today is back on the Keto diet which is all good. Be safe.

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.