Posts Tagged ‘chemotherapy’

Who ends up with the blood samples you routinely give for tests? What else are they being used for? Why don’t you know?

I am in the middle of reading Michael Palmer’s book,  The Fifth Vial. I read three of his books before, accidental finds while looking for more Robin  Cook’s books. Like the latter, Michael Palmer was also a doctor and Robin Cook was two years ahead of him at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. That is according to his biography. He asked his younger sister and I quote:

“If Robin can write a book and has the same education as I do,” why can’t I write a book?”

He died last October 2013 with nineteen books to his name.  I was lucky enough to find The Fifth Vial,  a story about a  disgraced medical student, a scientist and a private eye. Put them together and you have The Fifth Vial.  Just like  Robin Cook, Palmer wrote medical thrillers.  I have enjoyed reading Robin Cook’s books since I read my first book of him. I have collected his works over the years. I remember this started when I read about the famous Lea Salonga’s short bio that  she wanted to be a doctor and that she read Robin Cook. I was intrigued so I looked for his books at Booksale.  When I found one, the others followed.  By the way, going back to The Fifth Vial, it is my 80th read so far since I started with Goodreads’ 2017 Reading  Challenge  last January. Seventy more books to go before I finish the challenge. I am ahead of schedule though by about thirty-three books. Reading is getting lovelier and more interesting.

The medical field is such a rich source of those medical malpractices, new discoveries on medicines and such stories that  appear so true in real life.  When I got sick almost eight years ago, I researched and read so much about the effects of chemotherapy, how cancer could be treated the natural way.  I was afraid though so I chose to have chemotherapy every three weeks and took oral chemo drugs too. Some doctors would really suggest  for you to try new medicines like you are a guinea pig or a  white mouse According to my oncologist,  there are as many as two hundred chemotherapy drugs in the market.  It costs an arm and a leg to have one small bottle  of Oxaliplatin. The oral drug is just the same.  The first time I saw the drip  encased in a black cloth, I almost freaked out.  The nurse explained to me that the drug should not be exposed to the light. You know that thinking that you are taking poison in your immune system. I wonder if having a low immunity is still the effect of taking those chemotherapy drugs.

Oh yes, why not Michael Palmer? Why not The Fifth Vial?  I am sure you will also enjoy reading this as I do.


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I wonder if I ever shared this picture here, I can’t remember. I only did a few write-ups about my chemo days, the early years of blogging have been about getting well, getting on with life and trying to live it the best way a cancer survivor can. Would you believe that I met online friends here who shared and underwent similar journeys with me?

Facebook reminds you of a previous post you did years ago on the same day and month that you posted it and I got this.

I remember this....spending my 53rd birthday at the UST Benavidez Cancer Institute while having my 4th chemotherapy. With one of my oncologists, Doc Julie!

I remember this….spending my 53rd birthday at the UST Benavidez Cancer Institute while having my 4th chemotherapy. With one of my oncologists, Doc Julie!

Really, it made me smile and memories are reborn. A former classmate in high school prepared snacks for the doctors and nurses at the Ambulatory Care Unit of the UST Benavidez  Cancer Institute. She brought a large tray of  Pancit Malabon, drinks and cookies. Despite the two IV drips attached to my arm, I enjoyed those moments I spent with the staff. The first time I saw that Oxaliplatin IV drip wrapped in a black cloth bag, I just can’t help but think….that’s poison but still I have to convince myself that it would make me get well.I asked the oncology nurse why it has to be wrapped in black and she said that it should not be exposed to the light.

It was one of the best birthdays ever, because back then, listening to them singing happy birthday made me think that life even at its worse makes you feel happy too.

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It’s been a long time, literally, that is! For the past few days, all I came up for a blog were one and two-liner features that made it to my most read list, just the same.  Anyway, I just thought of updating you all with the weekend I had.

Yesterday, I met a friend way back in college and I remember that the last time we had lunch together was a year ago. Although we get to text each other once in a while, it is always a welcome change to chat, giggle, reminisce, hold hands  and cry a little while drinking hot tea and making the big effort of finishing off the Shabu-Shabu plate she ordered at Gloriamaris  Restaurant at Gateway Mall.  Would you believe that we’ve been through the same predicaments and problems in life (not in the same degree probably) while counting the years being cancer survivors?  I’ve always said that the best people who would truly understand what you’ve  been through and what you are presently undergoing are those who are on the same road with you and traveling the same journey. Precy, a friend for almost forty years now is one such gracious and caring lady who is ready to help – a shoulder to cry on, a sister, family and all.

We attended a seminar on health and healing at  Noble Life International (Phils.) They develop and market organic healing foods endorsed by world-renowned medical researchers and doctors.  Their products are used by doctors and medical professionals as food therapy. Yesterday I learned a lot from one of their guest speakers, a neurosurgeon.  For the past three months,  Precy has been taking these  all-natural supplementary food medicines and she says that they really help in her recovery as a breast-cancer survivor. Having such toxic elements in your body as a result of six cycles of chemotherapy makes you so wary of eating unhealthy food. I’ve been so careful of my diet since I was diagnosed of stage three colon cancer almost three years ago. And again this brings me to some friends asking, “how can you talk freely about your illness and what you’ve been through?” Well, having a light-threatening disease is not the end of it as some people perceive it to be. It’s true, you have to go through the drastic measures of treatments, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and all but I am of the thought that sharing it through my blogs would somehow ease the pain for someone out there undergoing the same health problems as I am. And I feel happy that in my own little way, I am  doing a bit of helping these people cope. It’s the reason why I put up this blog in the first place.

Nissa and Obet came over yesterday to have dinner with us!  They brought with them ingredients for a yummy dinner, pork sinigang in guava.  And Obet could cook, we let him labor in the kitchen, churning out a tasty and indeed yummy sinigang sa bayabas. It was a lovely Saturday, alright:) And I had the chance to see the photos forwarded by their official wedding photographers. They haven’t chosen yet what to put in the official album from around 2,000 photos which will be narrowed down to about 150 at the most. I suggested that we have the candid shots printed and have them made into one lovely family album, after all, it’s not every day that your one and only daughter gets married:) .

It was a quiet Sunday and I almost cried listening to Fr. Leo’s homily today!

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I was supposed to have my check-up late last month but I was a little busy at home so I postponed it till today.  It’s kind of weird sometime to feel afraid to see the results of the laboratory tests. I guess, it is really something inevitable and no matter what the outcome, you have to accept it.  We passed by New World Diagnostic Center to get the lab results then proceeded to the Chinese General Hospital for an appointment with my surgical oncologist, Dr. Samuel Ang. He was a little late arriving at the clinic and the secretary explained that he had to handle an emergency surgery.

Dr. Samuel Ang is a very caring and  wonderful doctor.  I finally brought a camera and told him I am still doing some blogs about him.  He just smiled and told me to give him the link to my blog.  He shared that some of his patients were able to find him through the internet.  I just said, it is my small way of saying  “thank you” for taking care of me.

Dr. Samuel Ang and me!

I am scheduled for another check-up come January 2011 – colonoscopy, CEA marker testing, liver ultrasound and the usual lab tests that I need to undergo every three months.   My SGPT/SGOT results were still a bit high but compared to my last laboratory tests, they have gone down significantly and Dr. Ang explained that sometimes,  these are still the effects of chemotherapy.  It’s  almost a year now since my last chemo and I am really glad that finally, I am getting every bit stronger day by day, being able to do the things I used to do.

Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center

I have this interesting conversation with some of the patients waiting at Dr. Ang’s clinic.  They were asking if he has been my doctor for long and I told them he operated on me July of last year.  It was followed by six cycles of chemotherapy at the Benavidez Cancer Institute in UST. One of them said, “you are looking good, parang hindi ka nagkasakit.” I’ve often asked myself, “how should you look when you’ve been diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and underwent rigorous chemotherapy sessions?” Everytime I meet people who didn’t know what I have gone through, they are simply amazed that I look okay.  I thank God most of all for letting me go on with life, still enjoying it with my family until now.

Dr. Ang said, ” Congratulations Arlene” with that big smile on his face and that matters a lot because I know that I will get through  this, that I would be hundred percent fit again!   I’d like to bear this in mind,  “he who has health has hope and he who has hope has everything”.

God is so good, all the time!

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Hubby told me to relax and I am quite obedient when it concerns my health and my treatment. I am not usually this complacent, but lately  I’ve been thinking,  there is really nothing to worry about.  And my idea of relaxing is sitting in front of Josef’s laptop and sharing my muddled thoughts and giving vent to one sure way of escape….blogging.

Tomorrow would be my fifth chemotherapy.  One more to go, after this hurdle.  I don’t know if I’m supposed to be thrilled because during my last check-up, my medical oncologist told me that I need not have to undergo lab tests and doctor visits in between my fifth chemo and the last.  That means, a few pesos saved on gas and doctor’s fees, hooray!

I was watching Umagang Kay Ganda early this morning  and they were having a countdown, Christmas is just 39 days away.  Gosh, how time flies!  And that means, one more Sunday before the beginning of Advent.  I always look forward to Christmas, it is my favorite time of the year, but I may have to forgo  buying gifts this time because technically I would still be on chemotherapy drugs until December 22.  I’m counting the days you see, before I’m out of everything that has to do with my treatment.  Hopefully, by next year this is all beyond me.

Nissa and I are quite excited to decorate our  house once the renovation is done.  We have agreed on the minimalist look, less clutter, but more cozy type of decorating.  She even had her interior decorator friend help her choose what to buy.  And didn’t I tell you the hubby is so meticulous when it comes to the measurements of our built-in cabinets? Even the size of plates and other glasswares have to be measured and each item has its specific place, even our microwave  and my portable electric oven have to be wall-mounted. Perhaps, he is more OC than I am. When you have experienced that kind of deluge that we had before because of typhoon Ondoy, I guess, it’s just natural to be wary of things.  I lost all my copies of Real Living  and House Decorating  magazines, so I bought the November issue of the former.  It contains must-know designer secrets from the experts. Those make-over features that they do are really something to think about.

So what next? Please, wish me luck for tomorrow’s ordeal and your prayers are always welcome.  And I wish to share these quotes with you.

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury; and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasion, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.”

William Ellery Channing

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