Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Guerilla Warfare

The big war has begun.  Today I got to sit in a nicely textured sage green recliner for most of the day.  The inclusion room is bright, filled with natural light from windows lining the 6th floor of the center.  I sat by the window that looked out at the bungalows following each other on 47th Avenue.
First, I talked with the nurse practitioner named Roxy.  She gave me (and Scott) the lowdown. Stay hydrated.  Take extra care of your mouth by rinsing with salt and baking soda to avoid mouth sores.  Other side effects to look for like bones hurting and nausea.  That type of thing.
Then we began with hydration.  
Ten years ago, nausea and vomiting were a real problem with most patients receiving chemotherapy.  Some smartie figured out in more recent years that the chemo was dehydrating everyone and making them feel very sick.  So now it is standard to give IV fluids for about an hour before starting the medicine.  
The two medicines I'm taking are called Cisplatin and Paclitaxel.  The former is a kind of tried and true platinum based crazy drug approved for clinical use in 1978.  The latter, derived from the bark of a yew tree, was approved in 1992 with some controversy regarding it's impact on the environment, particularly the ecology of the forests in the Pacific Northwest.
Some super brainiac learned how to isolate the 10-deacetybaccatin from the needles of the European yew and make a semi-synthetic version of Paclitaxel, so in 1995, the controversy ended because, since the bark was no longer used, the trees weren't in danger.  Another interesting thing is that the, excipient or carrier (to the veins) used is a polyoxethylated (whatever that means) castor oil.  This might account for some of the side effects and new studies are showing DHA (fish oil) to be a more beneficial excipient with less side effects.  Sounds good for future cancer patients.  ( This is my understanding of these types of chemotherapy after some research, but I'm not using footnotes cause this ain't Advanced Comp Class for crying out loud so don't quote me on any of it - or use it for a term paper.  You will get an F).
These are the main troops in my body.  They are trained to kill anything and everything.  Good and bad.  I am allowing them to battle because they are good fighters and can kill kill kill the cancer cells, but I do not care for their lack of judgment.
Which is why I am happy to be also using the tactic that showed triumph in the Vietnam War - Guerilla Warfare.  My tactics include, but are not limited to fish oil, magnesium abcorbate, quercitin, bioflavinoids, whey protein, acidopholis, vitamins CDABKE, selenium, evening primrose oil, garlic, maitake mushroom extract, ginger root, marshmallow root, green juice, raw foods, whole grains, no sugar and a whole bunch of other boring things.
These tactics help to strengthen my puny immune system and normal cells into a fighting machines.  And though, these cells are local and native and have been oppressed for quite some time by the evil tyrant, the mutant cancer cell,  they are sharpening their swords and setting booby traps as we speak. (sorry to sound so D&D here).  They are ready to work alongside the idiot main troops and keep the good cells working so the immune system can learn to attack the cancer on its own. 
So here we go.
Today in the green recliner I read three magazines, the last half of a book, and watched an episode of  The Shield on DVD.  The nurses are attentive and helpful.  Scott brought me soup he made in the slow cooker.  
I have "good veins", so the medicine goes in through an IV.  If  it's hard to find veins, or if they are too small, like on a little kid, they have to use ports in the chest or a main line in your upper arm.
I feel fine.  Side effects probably won't show up till a few days from now, and with help from my guerilla warfare, I'm not anticipating them to be debilitating.
The man next to me was large and sleeping the whole time.  I noticed his skin looked a strange cream-yellow color.  Then I looked at my hands and saw that mine were also cream-yellow colored.  I think it was just the hue from the light.  But I guess I don't care If I turn cream- yellow for a while.


  1. Julie
    I received this from a very good friend who also wishes you the best on your road through this tough time:
    "I have done a lot of Visualization over the years about everything including Health Issues. Before I was scheduled for my third angioplasty I met with the Cardiologist a week before and had him show me a picture of where the blockages were. I told him he would probably think I was a bit weird but to work with me on this plan before he started the procedure next week. To make it short, while I was on the table preparing for the shot in my hip to numb where he would freeze the area where he would be putting the shunt in my femoral artery, he told the assistants that Mr. Mahoney needed a few moments before we start. The week before he had told me when I was ready to lift my right hand. Then he said, O. K. Jim were are ready. That was 16 years ago, without a stent. I did similar things during recover from Prostate surgery. The foundation for all of this started when I was getting off cigarettes and booze. Cancer does not like prayer. So we prayed like we never did before. Cancer does not like Oxygen so I got a prescription for oxygen and exercised with oxygen for two 10 minutes periods a day on an air dyne bike. Then because chemotherapy comprises the immune system, I loaded myself with Nutritional supplements along with 3000 mg of Vit C three times a day. My diet was clean, no sugar, no white bread, no junk food.....I know that chemo diagnosis is the pits Along with the anti-nausea meds they give you, I took Ginger which also helps.
    We will be praying for a successful healing for Julie. Whew, I am out of gas....."
    I don't know about the oxygen. I hadn't heard of it before but I know you are on the nutritional bandwagon.
    My best to you with many prayers.

  2. Jules,
    Cream-yellow is my favorite color. I bet it looks great on you. You are so brave and I don't think there is anyone who doesn't believe you can beat this. Stay strong. We are taking good care of Luka. (She misses you, though.)
    With love love love,

  3. Julie, I am sure all your writing teachers would be very impressed with your accurate and descriptive vocabulary! Thanks for the graphic details! I've never heard the blow by blow. What a great way to keep busy. When all this is over, you'll be healthy and rich, to boot!! Not bad! Your most ardent admirerer, Nancy Stay in the light!

  4. I meant ... Nancy "Stay in the light"
    Not like my name was Nancy Stay in the light or something. Darn computers!

  5. Julie, your writing is beautiful.

  6. Julie,

    Your Uncle Tim just sent me the link to your blog. He and your dad are my cousins. I too am Julie A Forward....My dad and their dad were brothers.

    I will definitely be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as you go through these treatments.

    I noticed you mentioned having done a photo session, so I am assuming you are a photographer. Small world as I too am a photographer. I live in Rochester ny and work for my brother, it is a design agency, where I do both photography and graphic design. If you want to learn more about distant family you can go to our website www.forwardbranding.com and me, my brother Jonathan and Jim and sister Jayne Mowry are all on facebook (I think your dad is godfather to Jayne). You can also e-mail me at julie.forward@forwardbranding.com


  7. Hi Jules
    I'm packing up and we'll be on our way tomorrow. It seems like a long time since I have seen you, but I think it's because your chemo day was such a big day for you and I missed it. I can't wait to get out of this frozen tundra to the balmy 40's of Portland. I love you my brave, feisty,
    guerilla fighter Mom!!