Bald 'n Sassy

Life is for the living. Live simply. Expect less.

Archive for the tag “swimming”

Missing in action – NOT!

I have just taken out my ruler and slapped myself on the wrist!  Ouch! I deserve that.  I just looked at my blog dashboard and it has been almost 3 months since I posted with what has happened. Of course there are excuses but I am sure you don’t want to hear about them.   

Well, I am still here.  It’s time to share on health progress.  Overall, physically I am feeling very good.  Since I have switched my diet to a gluten-free and dairy menu, my body is good shape.  I am still going back to my oncologist every 6 weeks for check up.  I have had 3 blood test since the start of the 2012.  My CEA and CA.A 19.9 markers are on the upward trend.  From double digits, it is growing to 3 digits.  Here is a snapshot:

Feb 2012: CEA – 63;  CA.A 19.9 – 61.2

March 2012: CEA – 121.2; CA.A 19.9 – 135.6

April 2012: CEA – 192.9; CA.A 19.9 – 384.8

No cancer patient wants to see such numbers.  I always remember that my oncologist telling me in the past that it is the trend of the markers versus the absolute numbers.  It is an indication on the “active” cancer cells in my body.  Despite the exponential growth, I am feeling well.  There was a slight scare for me when I started losing weight in between check up.  I lost 2 kg.  Ordinarily I would be happy to lose that weight but given my situation, losing weight is another element taken into consideration in my progress.  I haven’t not made any further changes to my diet and I exercised less.  I was perplexed.  I asked my oncologist  and she wasn’t too concerned about it.  Her feedback is because I exercised less and losing my muscles.  Good consolation.  I am still monitoring my weight and now I have resumed my swimming, it will interesting to see if my weight continues to fluctuate.

So what does it mean with all the numbers going up?  Theoretically, I should be resuming chemo.  My oncologist did hint if I want to do chemo.  I jokingly replied “who would be anxious to do chemo?”.  She didn’t force on me that I should do it.  The wait and see approach still stands.  With all my other vitals looking good and no major symptoms, I choose to defer treatment. The oral chemo option is still on table.  I am still looking into alternative treatments which I will share in another post.

The fight continues!

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Slight change of plans for round 5

Number 5 must be my lucky number.  It is exactly 5 days ago that I had another round of chemo treatment.  However there is a slight change of plans. The morning of the treatment started like any chemo session – a blood test.  I was hoping to have my favourite nurse to draw my precious blood but wasn’t my day.  I am not sure if she was rushed for time.  It was rather painful when she poked me with the needle. I could feel the blood flowing into the tube.  My arm was sore and weak for several hours – this is the first time I have felt any discomfort post a blood test.

So what is the change of plan you might ask.  The cancer marker level in my blood test showed a northward trend – about 10% increase from 56 to 62. This is not what I wanted to see.  My oncologist did not hesitate to advise me that we need to change the chemo drugs.  The plan is to go back using the set of chemo drugs administered last year.  The combo drugs are Carboplatin and Taxotere.  Before we proceeded with the treatment, she gave me an option of changing Taxotere to another drug called Taxol. From what she explained to me, Taxol is within the same class of Taxotere and used to various cancers such as breast and ovarian.  Taxol can be administered either on a weekly basis or every 3 weeks. I just can imagine not having a rest in between each session.  Plus my veins would not be able to recover in time.  I could have opted to insert a catheter but I can’t bring myself to go under the knife once again even if it is for very short duration.  I would be silly enough not to take up the 3 week plan. Mind you it takes around 4 to 4.5 hours to fully administer.   At least I have a longer period to recuperate in between each session.

Now that treatment plan took a detour, the next question I had to ask the doctor is how many rounds would I need to complete.  The answer I received is “Until the cancer markers has stabilized”.

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I am happy to say that the side effects for the new drugs are much easier to manage than the Japanese Campto drug.  No nausea, a slight headache and body aches for a day or two.  Mind you I am still very cautious about my immunity in the first post chemo.  My white blood cells has crept up a little higher but I am not completely out of the woods.

I am looking forward to walking out of the house for some natural Vitamin D tomorrow.  The other happy news is that I can fit in more swimming days in between treatments.

Numero Quattro – a milestone

An active morning for me today. With a sunny day outside I was looking forward heading to the pool to swim some laps.  Each time I swim, I make it a point to swim 30 laps.  This magic number has been my minimum laps for the past 2 months.  I decided to challenge myself and increase to 40 laps.  I am so proud of myself that I did manage to squeeze in the extra 10 laps.  I could see dark clouds looming  each time I lift my head to take a breath. Moments later, the clouds starting to cry. The rain didn’t stop me from continuing with my swim.  I love swimming in the rain.  The rain drops has a soothing effect on the back.  Some may think I am little crazy in the rain.  There were 2 other swimmers who also didn’t let the rain stop them from swimming.  My arms and legs starting to ache now.

Tomorrow will be my 4th round of chemo.  This marks as milestone for me.  I would cross the quarter mark checkpoint.  When I first started this second chapter of chemo, the number 12 is a high number and that it will take 6 months to complete which sounds pretty daunting. As each day treatment passes, I can happily cross each session.

I must admit that I haven’t been doing my stress ball exercise in the last few days.  I hope tomorrow the nurses will not have a major challenge to hunt for a suitable vein.  I like to see this hunting exercise as “game” for the nurses.  I say I make it interesting each time I visit the clinic.

Ok, time to head under the covers and get some shut-eye.  I hope there is some improvement in my white blood cell count in the blood test.  Fingers and toes crossed.

Let’s get physical for cancer patients

It such a great feeling when the rush of endorphins is released into the body. Other than day-to-day walking and pilates , it has been over 4 months since I did some form of regular physical exercise.  I broke the spell and decided to start swimming again.  Over the last 2 days, I eased my way and swam some laps.  Boy, it has been too long and I loved my time. Today, my arms are sore and I don’t mind it one bit. I am not the greatest swimmer nor am I training for the next Olympics.  I take my time in between strokes and I even stop for a minute every few laps before continuing. Swimming relaxes me, clear my thoughts and purely focusing my strokes.  The other benefits is that it helps strengthen my lower back and help me to cope better with side effects of chemo.

Fatigue is a very common side effect of chemo.  For me, this is one side effect that hits me quite hard.  For cancer patients, it is encouraged to include some light exercise like walking to help battle the fatigue, it boosts physical functions, and just makes the quality of life a little better.  There is an abundance of reports encouraging cancer patients to avoid inactivity. What a better way to get some natural Vitamin D by taking a walk around the park with family or friends. I know it is tough even on better days to muster enough energy and get yourself moving. The key message is to listen to your body. As a former gym rat who did squats with at least 100 pounds weight and ran 5km quite comfortable, I had to change my overall workout.  I tried to do a light jog after completing my first batch of chemo.  I couldn’t jog comfortably without feeling some aches in my knee-joint. I know that the chemo drugs had some impact on m physiological functions. Hence, swimming is the best workout for me.  Pilates is my other favorite workout.  It helps to build my core muscles and a perfect way to do some strength workout without the heavy weights.

Having said the above, the mantra of exercise and eating right to prevent or reduce the risks of cancer has been over publicized .  I have yet to come across any campaigns whereby medical professions encouraging cancer patients to exercise during and after treatments.  Why is that? I need to dig into this topic further.

Time to get some shut-eye.  Tomorrow is chemo round 2.

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