Thursday, February 16, 2012

Our Cancer Journey - Week 9

My travel in China was timed for Kathy's good days, the end of one chemotherapy cycle and the beginning of the next.   She's had a busy week, with a visit to her surgeon (check in after 6 weeks of chemotherapy), her last cycle of Adriamycin/Cytoxan, and continuing our farm search as new properties begin coming onto the market in the Spring.

As I mentioned last week, I knew that traveling would make me uneasy.   I made a commitment to friends and colleagues over a year ago.  Backing out would impact the plans of many people who had agreed to 5 days of meetings in Shanghai as part of an effort to share US lessons learned in care processes and technology.   With Kathy's consent and perfect timing, I did the trip.

Kathy's support system includes her father, several fellow cancer survivors, and our next door neighbor, who is a heme/onc nurse from Dana Farber with 35 years of experience.     Our next door neighbor was very interested in visiting old friends at BIDMC and volunteered to take Kathy to cycle 4 of chemotherapy tomorrow in my absence.

I'll return by Sunday night just as the effects of chemotherapy are beginning.

Kathy's doing well.  Before I left, her left breast was examined and the tumor that was very pronounced a few weeks ago, could no longer be found on palpation. It's clearly responding well to the chemotherapy.

We confirmed this week what we had expected, chemotherapy has induced chemical menopause.    Thus far, no hot flashes, mood changes, or sleep disturbances.

We're staying in touch by email.   I have a generous international roaming data plan while traveling.  Kathy's putting all her energy in the farm search, which is very therapeutic for both of us.

This will be my only overnight travel without her during chemotherapy.    She'll join me for my April keynote in San Francisco and a May keynote in Vancouver.   There are a few same day Washington and Chicago trips but those will not conflict with her treatments or her low energy days.

Care at a Distance is emotionally challenging - I want to be home and focused on Kathy.   Our emails, her support system, and a mutual shared project to create a life beyond a 5 year survival statistic give us both comfort that all will be well.


Scott Mace said...

John, where are you keynoting in April in S.F.?

Medical Quack said...

Thanks again for the updates and the willingness to share. Menopause on top of treatment, yuk and hopefully it won't be that bad. That's another one of my topics that is always up for discussion.

I did an interview with a woman, Hiede Houston, who made a very good educational and numerous video about the topic called Hot Flash Havoc a short while back and she did a good job and included Alan Altman from Harvard adding some input and it is used for screenings all over.

You also have to appreciate the theme song as it will get you up and moving:) Scroll down on the site and give a listen as it's really a "power surge" for us when looking for something positive:)

Again bad enough with chemo and to have to add menopause at the same time, a lot for a woman to go through and thanks for pointing that out as it's rarely mentioned as a side effect. Best wishes and again thanks for taking time to document and share as we all learn.

Claudia said...

As an RN your postings gives me an appreciation for what is involved in the care in oncology.

I worked in the OR and we see the patients when they have their initial surgery and then follow ups. I honestly no idea what was involved during the sessions.

I am glad to hear that the tumor is no longer palpable.

John Halamka said...

I'm speaking at the American College of Physician Executives Annual Meeting on April 29

Mayuri said...

I am touched by your dedication to your wife's healing process. In my family, there are several physicians but one is practicing ayurvedic medicine and says that healing has a lot to do with the mind and soul. You are contributing greatly to her healing process in a positive way. Thank you for sharing your journey and your thoughts.

Riccardo said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. You're for me an example as a husband.