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Finished with this Round of Radiation and Chemotherapy

June 20, 2013

Hey Folks,

I must say, six and a half weeks of treatment have gone by fairly quickly, and today was my last day of radiation and chemotherapy for round one. Treatment was originally supposed to end yesterday, but got extended because of a machine failure last week which prevented me from receiving radiation for a day. Besides fatigue, I didn’t have any major negative effects at all, which I am extremely happy about. From what I’ve been told, this is quite rare. For example, most people have to be put on steroids because they lose so much weight during the process. In contrast, I did not lose a single pound, which is a testament to the long held Mullin tradition of not having to be hungry to stuff our faces full of food. I was weighed every week, and every single time, I was met with a nurse’s complete shock that my weight did not decrease one iota. Frankly, I’m shocked that my weight didn’t go up because of the increase in hamburgers, ice cream, and egg McMuffins to my diet over the last six and a half weeks.

One interesting minor side effect that I have noticed is that I’m not hearing as well; I first noticed this two weeks ago, and it has steadily worsened. I asked Dr. Monyak – my radiation oncologist – about this hearing loss late last week, and he mentioned that this is a normal occurrence. What I found fascinating though, was the cause of this hearing loss. Specifically, part of the way that people hear is through something called an auditory tube, which goes from the ear through the sinuses. This tube vibrates whenever our ear encounters a noise, which in turn is how our brain registers sound. The radiation beams that have been entering my brain have dullied this vibration, and slowed it down. As a result, I can’t hear as well. Dr. Monyak said that the dulling of this tube also occurs when someone gets a bad cold, and that taking Sudafed should solve the problem for me. However, I am actually not going to take the Sudafed in order to see how long after the radiation it takes for my auditory tube to start vibrating normally; it will be like a junior high science experiment, minus the diorama and 14 page results paper.

On another note, now that I am done with round one of chemotherapy and radiation for my brain, my next round will start in one month for my rectum, probably July 15th. Thus, I will get a much welcomed month off. From what the nurse practitioners have told me, however, the “rectum round” (my term, not theirs) is going to be a pretty hardcore treatment regimen. The radiation will be hitting a large surface area of my body, which means I will probably experience more fatigue than I did in round one. The chemotherapy, called 5-flourouracil, will make me lose my hair and will be administered by a constant drip – which means I will have to get a portacath surgery, and I will to carry around a fanny pack of chemotherapy every where I go. This will last for 5 weeks, and then I will have another month off. Then I will have my rectum surgery, and then another month off. Finally, I’ll get the last round of chemotherapy and radiation, and then hopefully, I will be done!

Although all of this seems daunting at face value, it’s really not as bad as it sounds, and any side effects will be short lived. Plus, so far, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of side benefits of having cancer. For one, I can pretty much can get out of whatever the fuck I want to; i.e: “Oh sorry I can’t make your poetry slam competition tonight…I have cancer. “Also, I get a lot of attention having cancer, and as most people know, I LOVE being the center of attention, so there has been a lot of: “Oh, congratulations on your baby…I’d like to stop talking about it though, and tell you a fart joke instead. You have to laugh…I have cancer.” etc. etc. etc.

Finally, I want to give a huge shout out to my coworkers. They put on a fundraiser in my name for a cancer research fund that means a lot to my family (you can read more about it here). It was on June 17th, and it was a huge success; not only was I able to be the center of attention for an entire day, they raised over $10,000 dollars for the fund. I am honored and blessed to be working with people who would do that for someone as foul-mouthed and sarcastic as I am.

Onward and Upward,


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One Comment
  1. Tony permalink

    Glad to hear it. Enjoy the break and the hearing loss! Ignorance is bliss.

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