Links Of Hope #4

Today starts my sixth chemo treatment…theoretically half-way done! I say theoretically because, once again, we’re not doing the Oxaliplatin, which means there’s the possibility of having to extend treatments to make up for missed doses. But, even if I do go back on the nasty stuff, it’s probably going to be at a reduced dose because of the neuropathy symptoms that I’ve been having.

The Link of Hope for today is from Psalm 103: 2-4, which says:

Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,

And of course the Vonk boys have a great link for me!

So, here’s the play-by-play for today. As I mentioned above, no Oxaliplatin this round, so I’ll spend less time at the treatment center. I honestly believe that God gave me the pyoderma wound to provide a good reason to not have the Oxaliplatin, knowing how nasty that drug is.

11:20AM : All hooked up to the pump, heading out the door! I love these super short sessions without the Oxaliplatin!

11:00AM : IV done, time for the 5FU push and then connected to my nemesis, The Pump!

10:50AM : FaceTime session with the Mason’s in Orlando. They found a Ghirardelli Chocolate place and were virtually sharing their ice cream with us!

9:30AM: Started my ninety minute Leucovorin IV drip. That’ll take me to 11AM, at which time I’ll get my pump. That pump is my nemesis!

9:00AM : Went back to the treatment area and got comfortable. Started my Sodium Chrloride IV.

8:20AM : Met with Karen, Dr. Rosenberg’s PA. Told her about all the little things that have been going on the past two weeks – the neuropathy-like sore throat, the increased cold sensitivity in my hands, the balance issue I’ve been experiencing from time to time, the crazy painful tongue stuff, and the fog my brain seems to constantly be in. Taking all that into consideration, she and Dr. Rosenberg feel that when I do go back to the Oxaliplatin, it’ll probably be a 75% or 50% dose. Should be interesting! Oh yeah…it also appears I have Thrush again! I thought that was just for little kids! ;-)

8:10AM : Got my vitals taken and my blood drawn:

8:00AM : Arrive at Arizona Oncology and signed in.

Do I Really Have To?

Ugh. Tomorrow is my sixth chemo treatment. I’m happy in that it marks, theoretically, the half-way point of my series of twelve chemo treatments. But, I’m not looking forward to it all. In fact, if I could figure out a legitimate way to skip it, I just might.

I’m totally still grateful for how things have been going, but as a whole, it’s starting to get draining. For the past week and a half, I’ve had a sore throat that seems very much neuropathy related. While my hands aren’t doing the pins and needles thing, they’re much more sensitive to cold than they usually are. My taste buds are shot…everything tastes about as bland as can be. And for a week my tongue was literally on fire all the time because of side effects related to the 5FU. So, while as a whole things could be much, much worse, it’s the little things that tend to grate on me.

Yeah, and I’m not looking forward to the 4,140 little mechanical sounds that my pump will make over the 46 hour period. I hate that pump.

OK, enough pity party. Tune in tomorrow for a blow-by-blow of how my treatment goes. Should be interesting…especially if I have to get the Oxaliplatin again!

Hope everybody had an amazing Christmas, and that you’re getting some time to rest!

Mark

Merry Christmas and Thank You!

It’s a couple minutes before midnight on an amazing Christmas day! Our family had a great time just hanging out and being with each other, celebrating the birth of Jesus. It was truly a good day! I hope everyone else had a great day as well.

I wanted to take a moment and thank everybody for your awesome support this year. It’s been a particularly hard time for the Grace Community family, but we’ve pulled together in ways that most people have never experienced. The love and support I’ve felt as I’ve moved through this cancer stuff has been what’s gotten me through it…and I appreciate it very much. Your thoughts, prayers, and general friendship have moved me beyond real words. All I can say is Thank You!

I hope everybody has an awesome rest of the week!

Oh yeah…Happy Birthday to Natalie Hill who celebrates her birthday on Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Mark

Five Down!

Got my pump disconnected today, so I’m officially done with chemo treatment number five! Hard to believe that it’s been that many already, and that I’m almost half-way done. To be honest, I can’t wait until I’m 100% finished!

I have to say, I really hate the pump, which I’m calling my Internal Sanitizing Device (since it sounds like a hand sanitizer, and it’s killing stuff in my body). Hearing that noise every 40 seconds…not being able to shower for two days…wearing that insanely fashionable fanny pack with the razor thin waist strap…all add up to a not-so-exciting experience. But, in talking with the nurses, I hear there are people who have to wear their pumps 24/7, which would just be miserable. So, for not having to do that, I’m intensely grateful.

Minimal side effects this go around. I am a bit more tired, but not disablingly so. The worst side effect this time is that my tongue and mouth are killing me. I have this rawness or something developing on the sides of my gums, and my tongue is raw and super sensitive to any type of spicy stuff. This is an effect of the 5FU (what I get in the pump), and will eventually go away. But it makes for a bummer few days (or week or however long it takes). I love my spicy Mexican food! The good thing is no Oxaliplatin = no neuropathy, though my throat has been feeling like that for a few days. But I think that may be acid reflux related. Man, if it’s not one thing, it’s another!

So, one more treatment this month (the week after Christmas), and I’ll be half way done! Thanks to everybody for their support, kind words, and offers of drinks during my treatment. You have all made this experience very nice! And a huge shout out to all the nurses at Arizona Oncology…they are top notch!

Happy Holidays!

Links Of Hope #3

Hello!

I hope everybody had a great weekend, especially as we get closer to Christmas. I know all the shopping and scurrying about certainly takes a toll on our lives. Hopefully everyone takes time to pause and just be with their families! I returned yesterday from a few days in Houston, and the trip was great! Got lots done, met with my team, gave an executive status update presentation…it was all good!

Today is my fifth chemo treatment, and the third Links Of Hope from the Vonk family. The cuteness, and relevance, never stops!

Today’s verse is Jeremiah 29:11, which reads:

Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I feel this is particularly relevant today, as we’re going one more treatment without the Oxaliplatin, to allow my pyoderma wound to continue healing. That’s three in a row now where I’m not going to have to deal with the neuropathy, which can ultimately be very harmful to my body.

So, here we go with chemo!

12:30PMish : All done! Easy peasy! Sporting my stylish fanny pack with the pump that sounds like a sanitizer dispenser. I figure the whole thing is kinda sanitizing my body from the inside out, so we’ll just go with that analogy! Off to have an amazing lunch (since I’m writing this after the fact) with Michelle at Gluten Free Girls. I had a great hamburger with some amazing Bacon and Blue Cheese Fries!

10:30AMish : Started the Leucovorin drip. Will take the next two hours, then I get hooked up to the pump and I’m out of here! Not having the Oxaliplatin reduces my time here by a good two hours!

9:30AMish : Went back to the chemo area, got my blood drawn and hooked up to the IV. Started with the saline solution.

9:00AM : Went back to meet with Dr. Rosenberg. Talked about lots of stuff, including not doing a round of Oxaliplatin again because of my wound. He “may” want to tack on a few treatments at the end of my cycles to try and get that in. But, he also believes that given how easily the neuropathy popped up during my first couple treatments, he believes he would have had to wean me off it anyways. So, from my perspective, it’s all good!

8:45AM : Arrived, signed in, filled out my “how are you feeling today” form.

Why “InTheBag?”

At this point some of you may be wondering why this blog is called #InTheBag. Well, the story is simple but sorta funny.

Chris and Morgan Roberds were visiting me while I was in the hospital after my surgery. As I recall things, and my memory is a bit fuzzy about all the details of things that happened while I was in the hospital…blame it on the drugs…we were talking about the challenges I was going to face with my new life. Things would be different with my ostomy, chemo, and everything else associated with it. I basically made the statement that I had it all “in the bag,” and we all bust out laughing.

You see, not only do I have it all “in the bag” from the “as good as done” perspective, but everything I eat now is “in the bag!” Get it?! LOL!

So, that’s the short but true story of how this blog got named! Throw a hashtag in front of it to be #InTheBag, and people all over the world can experience the tales of my journey.

Have a great day!

Mark

On The Road Again

Hello from Houston! This is my final trip of the year, and I’m very glad I’m here. I’ve already been involved in a couple meetings that have been much more beneficial face to face. And I’ll be here for an executive review on Friday, so that’s a bonus! To top it off, I’m feeling super good, and full of energy!

Shot a few pics on the way in from my awesome window seat! As you can tell, I love clouds!

Arizona has some very cool mountain ranges!

And now on to the clouds!

Photo Dec 10, 10 51 18 AAnd my home away from home!

I hope everybody is having an awesome week!

Mark

4,140

4,140 – that’s how many times in the 46 hour period that I have my chemo pump that it makes a sound as it pushes more drugs into my body. Every 40 seconds for 46 hours!

On Monday when I picked up Alex from school, he heard the sound and asked if I had just gotten some hand sanitizer. He nailed it on the head…the sound is exactly like a mechanical hand sanitizer device! Hear for yourself :

[If you don’t see the Play arrow, just click in the black area on the left side…you’ll see the mouse cursor change]

Fortunately most of the time I totally don’t hear it, which makes me pause to figure out if it’s still working or not. And at night, when it’s under the covers, you can’t hear it at all, which makes sleeping good!

Only thirteen more hours until this round of chemo is over!