Monday, April 21, 2008

The Course Becomes Clear

Let it be known: I meant no serious disrespect of Mr. Bon Jovi in my last post. It would be rank hypocrisy from me to dismiss JBJ entirely, as I have been known to throw the fuck down on the dancefloor when "You Give Love a Bad Name" makes its always-predictable-and-always-welcome appearance on someone's nostalgic mix CD. BUT. JBJ is associated with the creation of precisely 2.5 good songs, all of which appear on one album. ("Wanted Dead or Alive" is fun, but only counts as half-good because rock and roll was technically not illegal in 1986. The song is misleading.) On the other hand, Bruce Springsteen, no matter what you think of his music, is a Big Deal.

A middling late-career effort.

Also, JBJ's first professional appearance on a record was on Christmas in The Stars: A Star Wars Christmas Album. And that album actually wasn't good!

OK, on to the cancer stuff.

Met with my oncologist today (Dr. Beth Hellerstedt of Texas Oncology -- she's awesome), and the news is mostly pretty good. Not great, but good. The CT scan showed some swelling in a few lymph nodes ... the biggest one swollen to 3 cm. That means that my cancer can be staged as clinical Stage II B testicular cancer. (There's some nice info on TC staging here, if you've a mind to peruse it.)

So Dr. H laid out the options: surgery or chemotherapy. Neither of these are particularly pleasant, so the thing to do is see if you can't avoid one or the other. If I got the lymph node dissection surgery, there would be a 30-35% chance I'd need chemo afterward (2 cycles). If I got the chemo (3 cycles), there would be a 10-15% chance I'd need surgery afterward. On that basis, Dr. H said she'd be more inclined to recommend the latter option. Considering that I can take the chemo as an outpatient right here in Austin, that I am young and can probably get through three cycles without being hit too hard, and that I am more wary about getting cut open and spending 3-5 days in a hospital with tubes up my nose and my dick, I have decided to move forward with chemotherapy. BOO YAH.

And that means I will be a busy boy this week:

TUESDAY -- Meet with the surgeon that will be installing my nifty port so that I don't have to have my limbs poked all to hell over the next 9 weeks. (We'll have to figure out when to schedule the surgery itself; it's a fifteen-minute-or-so procedure but they still have to put you out for it.)

WEDNESDAY -- Drop by the cryobank to deposit my manseed. A lot of guys regain their fertility after chemo; a lot of guys don't. This is my insurance policy in case I decide one day to bless a new life with my prone-to-testicular-cancer DNA.

THURSDAY -- Tests galore! All to make sure that the cancer is, in fact, confined to my lymphs for the moment. CT scan of my chest, MRI of my brain, and a "bone scan." And then, at 4:00 PM -- Chemo Class! I can only hope this will involve an instructional videotape with an anthropomorphic narrator, like Carl the Chemo Crab.

FRIDAY -- Another meeting with my Urologist, the estimable Dr. Brett Baker, just to make sure I am on the right course.

And then the following MONDAY -- Chemo begins at 8:30 in the morning.

So you may be curious ... how does this thing they call chemo work?

Well, chemo is, as my friend and cancer-boy-in-remission Tom W. (well-known to some of you) puts it, "straight-up poison." It's toxic stuff they put into you that just happens to be much better at killing rapidly dividing cells (like cancer, but also innocent victims like hair and stomach lining) than it is at killing normal cells. I.e., taking chemo is badass and makes you like the kid in elementary school who drank Formula 409 to prove himself king of the playground. (I do not know that this kid actually exists, but let us posit his existence.)

The chemo regimen for testicular cancer is pretty light, comparatively speaking. 3 cycles of BEP (Bleomycin, Etoposide, and Cisplatin). Here's how a cycle works:

In the first week, you receive chemo for about 6 hours a day, Monday through Friday.

In the second week, you go in two days a week (as I recall) for a one-hour infusion. The second week tends to be the one when you feel the crappiest.

In the third week, you rest up for the next cycle.

So so so. That's enough cancer talk for now.

Now, watch this video:

My thesis was on Beckett. This video is better than my thesis.

Also: Forgetting Sarah Marhall? Really good!


Paula said...

I heart CL.

Lauren said...

Doesn't going on chemo mean you get to smoke a lot of weed? I love you, Buttercup. And though finals keep me in Houston you and your sinister ball are most definitely on my mind.

Delaney said...

Oh god. I watched the Charlie Rose video and laughed so hard I cried... Hope all goes alright with your busy week.

Jerry Fugit said...

What you didn't show off your shiny port last night!? Oh well. Thanks for the Charlie Rose video and have fun at the sperm center.

Jerry Fugit said...

Also--have you ever wanted to cut and past advertisements when internet sites have word verifications on them? If enough people do it then tech geeks will freak out when they believe that ad robots have evolved.

Matt said...

We have the same urologist!

He is indeed estimable.

Also, I'm pretty sure he's used "in the mix" to describe possibilities or treatment options. Bonus.