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Radiation and Chemo Began This Week

May 13, 2013

Hi Everyone,

I feel the need to start off this post with some very, very sad news. On Monday, May 6th my neuro-oncologist confirmed my deepest fear: I will be unable to drink alcohol until my radiation and chemotherapy treatments are over. To provide some background, I have not had a sip of alcohol since my friends Kelsey and Jason had a house warming party on April 6th, and the treatments aren’t over until June 18th. This has already been the longest I’ve gone without a cocktail since high school, and I’ll be honest, I miss booze a lot…As the great Dean Martin once said, “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. They wake up in the morning and that’s the best they’re going to feel all day.” To Mr. Martin’s point, this will truly be a lot of summertime sobriety to start off the season, and it is very unwelcome. That said, once the treatments are over, there will be a huge scotch infused celebration which you will all be invited to. Ironically, my goal for that night will be to get hospitalized (just kidding mom).

On a serious note, I did start chemotherapy and radiation on Tuesday, May 7th and to be honest, the first week was a breeze. The only frustrating thing about the treatments is that there is no set schedule for me to get the radiation. One day my appointment could be at 7:40AM, the next it’s at 2:20PM, and the next it’s at 5:40PM; Thus, so much for getting into a routine, but it’s only for six weeks so it shouldn’t be that much of a disruption.

Before I go into the details of treatment, I do want to share a very amusing comment one of my employees made to me this week – to protect his identity, let’s call him “Brian McCrasken”. I was having a conversation with “Brian” at work right before I was about to leave for the clinic for my first treatment on Tuesday, and the six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy came up at the tail end of our conversation. Now, he probably meant to ask the question “which one is supposed to be the most mild?” or something along those lines. However, the way he said it was, and I quote “Which one are you looking forward to the most?” as if we were talking about two different books that were on my summer reading list. Everyone within ear shot, including us, started laughing immediately.

Regarding my treatment, the radiation piece of it is pretty easy, actually. I go to a special clinic at Abbott 5 days a week. After I check in to the clinic, the nurses take me back to a big room with a huge machine connected to a bed. I lie down on the bed, and they a put a plastic mask over my face and fasten it to the bed; this is to keep my head from moving around during the treatment. The machine then automatically positions itself into the place it needs to radiate, and a whirring sound begins – this is presumably when the radiation is active. Here is a picture right after Thursday’s treatment:

New Image

After about 6 minutes, it’s over. I almost wish it were more exciting, because it would make for a more interesting post, but that’s about it. As long as there is no extended wait in the waiting area (sometimes the clinic gets backlogged), I’m at the clinic for  no more than 20 minutes.

The chemotherapy portion of the treatment is pretty mild as well. I’ve had to have chemotherapy 2 other times in my life, and this stint is  by far is the easiest. The particular chemo I am taking is called Temodar, and I take it in pill form. Dr. Trusheim also prescribed for me an anti-nausea pill, and an antibiotic. I take the anti-nausea and Temodar right before I go to bed, and I take the antibiotic 3 times a week.  Granted, this was my first week, but as far as I can tell, it’s totally a piece of cake compared to when I was 5 and 17.

I may be eating these words in a couple of weeks, but so far, I have not felt any of the really negative side effects, save for some very mild fatigue beginning this weekend. All the doctors and nurses have told me that I can expect for this to increase over time, and that I should also expect to experience nausea at some point as well. As an aside, one of the side effects of chemotherapy is that it depresses my immune system. Thus, I will be more susceptible to cold and flu viruses for the next few weeks (that’s why the doctor prescribed me an antibiotic). As a result, I am going to be avoiding people who are sick like I do weird people on the bus; no offense, but if you are under the weather, please steer clear of me for the next few weeks…we can hug it out in July.

The only downside of treatment so far  is that I did start to feel the onset of chemo brain pretty much immediately this week. I experienced this before when I was going through chemo at age 17, but it happened much later in the process. I honestly don’t know if this is something that is psychosomatic or it is an actual result of the chemotherapy, but I have noticed that I am a little more forgetful and have a tendency to ramble a bit now that I started treatment. That said, I have also noticed an improvement over the last few days, so hopefully it will be short lived.

I’ve also felt very popular lately, which is a testament to the support I am getting from friends, family, and colleagues. As an example, at Mother’s Day brunch today, 2 people I have never met before came up to me on separate occasions and said “Hi Eddie, oh my gosh, I have been thinking about you so much lately.” This has been happening a lot. I know it comes from a very good place, and they mean very well; and I obviously I respond with a polite thank you. But to be honest, when this happens I’m really thinking “Who the hell are you, and man alive I hope you have your clothes on when you are thinking about me.” In all seriousness, I really do appreciate all the support, from friends and strangers alike.

Before I close, a huge shout out to my friend Alli for letting me know that May is brain cancer awareness month!

Onward and upward,

Eddie

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4 Comments
  1. Eddie- I so appreciate your humor in all this, I am afraid to admit that I look forward to reading your blog. I think you should change the title to ShitThatEddie says!

  2. may is brain cancer awareness month?

    who did you pay off?

  3. DeborahSerafini permalink

    I ran into Hugh Klein a few weeks ago and he sent an email to me with a link to your blog. I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t sure I wanted to read about your third bout of cancer because it really sucks that you and your family have to go through the big C experience again, but I opened the link this morning and have been incredibly moved by your humor, strength, and honesty. You write amazingly well, I just wish you didn’t have to blog about this particular journey. I look forward to someday reading your blog about a vacation in Europe or some other happy event. Maybe your first scotch in July? (By the way, you might get your taste for scotch from your mother. Ask her about the thermos we would share on bus trips back from Rochester concerts.)

  4. Ryan McCracken permalink

    Great and inspirational stories Eddie and on a separate note, Brian McCrasken sounds like a great guy-

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