Showing posts from March, 2018

25th March 2018

In quest of the type of antinausea medications that seem to work best with Nick, we headed yesterday to the local reservation of the Oneida First Nation, about 20 minutes outside of London. In anticipation of the country-wide legalization of marijuana, a few entrepreneurial guys  there have opened the Red Eagle Smoke Shop - but this is not a place to buy cheap smokes. They have all kinds of goodies for the cannabis enthusiast, so we picked up some stuff that we felt would help with the nausea but minimize the lung irritation.  We ran out of lorazepam yesterday, one of the crucial meds that arrests vomiting and allows Nick to sleep - he was too sick to make an appearance at the drug store, and since lorazepam is a controlled substance, you have to show up in person with your ID in order to obtain it. Nick was far too sick this morning to get to the drug store, so in desperation, I went instead, with his ID. The pharmacist asked me, "have you taken this medication before?", I

23rd March 23

Nick's home, and we're all fried. Great to be out of the chemo ward. Our thoughts are with Nick's room mate, Doug, and his wife Margaret. Awful week for them. He'd been in for a month due to graft vs.  host disease - a complication of a stem cell transplant a few years ago. Meanwhile, his poor wife had been getting treatment at Princess Margaret in Toronto for cancer as well. Of all the wretched luck!

22nd March, 2018

Nick's made it through half the current chemo cycle so far. He's doing fine, all things considered. The key thing is that Alex is able to get him to eat and drink, and this helps him stay on top of the nausea. Obviously, the intravenous hydration and loads of anti-nausea meds play a role, but in the past, we've seen that these measures make little difference when Nick hasn't eaten.                                       Nick floundering in examination room. Thanks to all Nick's friends who've been visiting! Two days to go.

19th March 2018

Nick's back in for cycle 2 today. He's feeling fine, but is of course less than enthusiastic about being back in hospital on such a nice day. Oh well! The treatments are working, so we can't really complain. Come visit him at LHSC, room C7-308B!

16th March 2018

Just back from the Cancer Centre. We had a very encouraging meeting with Nick's primary oncologist. She reported that Nick's blood components (red + white blood cells) are normal, and he's good to go for cycle #2 on Monday. She also was overjoyed to hear that Nick's no longer coughing up blood, and is eating normally - strong indication that cycle #1's chemotherapy has been effective and is eradicating the cancer in Nick's lungs. We're overjoyed as well! During the first hours of cycle #1, Nick had an anaphalactic reaction to one of the chemotherapy drugs, paclitaxel ("Taxol"). This is not uncommon, and there are prophylactic drugs that can be given to ward off such reactions. However, in light of Nick's breathing distress at the start of treatment, it was decided that this drug would be discontinued for the remainder of cycle #1. The plan is to reintroduce the drug during cycle #2, with all prophylactic measures in place, and start treatmen

14th March, 2018

Nick continues to get a little better each day. He's off oxygen, walking with a cane, still coughing quite a bit, but at least is eating normally, and is less exhausted. He's been making trips over to Alex's place, and even short visits to restaurants. Only a few more days to fatten him up before chemo resumes on Monday!  Nick has a follow-up with his oncologist on Friday, preceded by blood work. Hopefully the blood work indicates that the beta-hCG tumour marker is moving in the right direction, and also that the white cell count is high enough to proceed with chemotherapy. Not sure if they're doing a CT scan right away - they tend to be pretty conservative about these, as they do represent a lot of radiation. I think a CT scan is equivalent to about 50-70 chest X-rays.  Our family doctor ("Dr. L.", to respect his privacy) continues to impress us. He'd  worked as a pediatric oncologist in Toronto, but moved to London to be closer to his wife's fami

8 March 2018

Today was a lot better than yesterday. Nick was still quite wasted,  confined to the couch, but at least was able to breathe, and not on oxygen. He's quite irritable and frustrated at his situation: from hiking in the mountains in BC to this in a few short months - not fair at all. We're pretty tired, but incredibly grateful for all of your support. The food, gift baskets, cards, money, gift certificates..., how can we ever repay you all? Hit the link below to see a ridiculous video!   THANKS FROM OUR FAMILY!

5 March 2018

Nick's doing much better. Think they'll continue at-home IV hydration for a few more days, as it seems to make Nick feel a lot better. What a difference compared with Nick's admission day a week ago, though. Perhaps it's too early to tell, but it seems like the treatment's doing something (beyond wiping him out). He can't really walk around that much yet, but at least the nausea is under control. However, lounging around watching Alien movies at home is not a bad way to spend the day. On another note, it's been a year since we got word that my mom's husband, my lovin' stepdad Michael Poitevin, passed away (he passed on March 4th 2017). What  a five-finger death punch that was. He got us through a lot of the tough times during Nick's 2013-2015 treatments, calling at least weekly and always cheering us up with his mantra of cheerful sentiment and raunchy jokes.  He was one-of-a-kind, an unparalleled raconteur, a man with a fine sense of humour, a

4 March 2018

Nick's had a rough couple days at home -- pretty nauseated, not able to do more than lie there and groan - par for the course for this kind of chemo. It sucks, but we're not bitching as long as it's doing its job. The good thing is that he's off the supplementary oxygen and is not coughing (much). We'd like to think this means that the chemotherapy is doing its job and eradicating the cancer from his lungs - but of course he's also taking dexamethasone for nausea, and this would act as an anti-inflammatory as well. We're keeping our fingers crossed! Tanja and I are pretty tense and exhausted at this point, but taking turns to get out and get some fresh air - so we're hanging in there. It's been great to have visitors, that's for sure!

2 March 2018 - Evening

Nick made it home at about 9 tonight, and headed straight up to bed. He's pretty wasted after a week of chemotherapy, and all the attendant drugs - hydromorphone, dexamethasone, Gravol, ondansetron, etc - a sickening, brain destroying cocktail. Upon our arrival home we were visited by a respiratory therapist who set Nick up with oxygen. Nick's lung function is not all that bad; his lungs are rendered quite reactive and irritable due to the cancer in them, and this manifests itself when he exerts himself or tries to breathe too deeply. The oxygen allows him to breathe a little easier and avoid painful and exhausting bouts of coughing. Presumably he'll gradually need less and less supplemental oxygen as the chemotherapy eradicates the cancer. We're not sure how many cycles of chemotherapy this will take.  Nick's home for two weeks now, until his next cycle begins. The challenge is to get him to consume enough water to flush the chemo drugs out of his system - abou

2 March, 2018

Nick should get out of hospital today, the end of the in-hospital part of cycle one. The next two weeks, he'll be recovering at home, the chemo continuing to do its job.  I've mentioned before how much better things seem to be going at this point, due in large part to Nick's girlfriend, Alex. I must say I was touched when I read her Instagram post from yesterday, which I include below. It's nice to see social media not being used to harrass, insult or attack people!

1 March, 2018

Day 4 at Vic. Nick's doing surprisingly well this morning. The nausea is well managed so far, Nick's eating (not enthusiastically), and looks less wasted than before his arrival. Best of all, his sense of humour is intact. I attribute all of this to Alex, who plans to be a dietician one day.  Hope the whole course of treatment goes this way. Living at the hospital and taking care of Nick is a full-time job, far more draining than teaching. We miss our students, colleagues, being in the main stream of life. On the other hand, we never lose sight of how blessed we are. We have colleagues, friends and relatives who give selflessly of their food, wine, time, music and good will. We have an employment situation that allows us to be there for Nick and not starve - thank you SDCI, WCI, TVDSB & OSSTF. We're also grateful to the medical team that's been on Nick's case for five years so far, and even for the wretched disease for being non-chemo-resistant (so far),