Tag Archives: Surviving pancreatic cancer

A Puncture When You Least Expect It

18 Apr

Yesterday I had a puncture – well, Pam did. Or the car she was driving. Funny how in the times of sexual equality, some jobs remain in the male domain. But that’s another story. I went to get the tyre fixed.

I’ve been going to the same puncture repair place for years. Although, fortunately, not too often. It’s a family business in which the founding father  could be either side of eighty. God knows whether he knows me or not but I did innocently say to him that he wasn’t there last time I came in. I had a treatment he tells me – chemo for cancer. Like me, I empathized – but he was off. I wasn’t sure that he was in “reception” mode – he seemed to be into his monologue. But I did manage to squeeze in that I was being treated for pancreatic cancer. “They didn’t want to operate on me so I went  privately”, he was proud to say – “I was operated on by Prof. So-and-so. Number one in the world”. Israelis are to medicine a bit like Americans are to baseball. It starts with the World Series – and goes upwards from there. “He took my pancreas out and my colon and this and that,” he added. I wanted to question him on the removal of the pancreas but he continued with “cost me 120 grand (shekel)” he tells me. Apparently his proudest moment. Can you survive without a pancreas? That was news to me.

What did I expect from an octogenarian? He was lucid indeed. I wanted to tell him how awesome it would be to reach his age. But I was reflecting – he was reciting. I then realized that I haven’t actually had a “social” conversation about cancer for a long time. Certainly not with my contemporaries – not that I would wish cancer on anyone. I realized that my blog does give me a medium for expression – but it’s not the same as speaking to a fellow sufferer. Just to get things in perspective. The puncture-man’s message was that you have to keep working. He gets up at the crack of dawn and does his routine, including the rounds at the bakery to buy his workers an early morning bite. “Not that I work as I used to” he tells me – but I won’t bore you.

Our conversation was coming to a conclusion. We went on for almost as long as it took to fix the puncture – somehow they convinced me on the way that the tyre was irreparable and would have to be replaced. Together with the other front tyre – just to even things up. An expensive business.

But it did give me the incentive I needed – not to return to work – but to continue my volunteering. Same place, same satisfaction. And tomorrow at another charity where I help out. Life, fortunately, is going on.. .  .   .         

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Surviving Pancreatic Cancer

8 Apr

As the holiday season advances, I realise I have two other reasons to celebrate. Firstly, it’s now almost a year and a half since diagnosis and secondly my blog seems to be growing in momentum – more readers from more exotic places.

It’s exciting to see someone has clicked in from Chile– or from places as improbable as Papua New Guinea or thePhilippines. And that people have shown interest from Indonesia to Italy. So be it. I have no idea who they are, but assuming they are interested in treatment for pancreatic cancer I thought it might just be time to give some sort of interim report.

Chemotherapy:

I’m now on my new chemotherapy regime of Gemcitobene and Abraxane. Tomorrow will be the third treatment, then I get a week’s break. This will hopefully be the pattern for the foreseeable future, especially as the side effects have fortunately been minimal thus far. The threat of hair loss and worsening neuropathy still hang heavily over my head.

This latest regime replaced my short tangle with Tarceva. I survived six weeks of Gemcitobene with a daily dose of one Tarceva pill. Although the treatment seemed to be working, I simply couldn’t stand the side effects.

The change to Tarceva followed almost a year on “5FU” – a cocktail of Folfirinox, Oxalyplatine and Irinotecan. How user-friendly it now seems to have been on a regime that my treatment was every other week – interspersed with a week’s break here and there.

Diet:

I’m still clinging religiously to my ketogenic diet. To remind you, it’s a diet of no carbohydrates (pasta, potato, rice, etc for the uninitiated), no fruit, nothing containing sugar – nor cakes or biscuits! If you’re having trouble not eating bread this week, bread is something that hasn’t passed my lips since January last year!  (For the reader who enquired about courgettes – yes! They’re allowed.) 

Daily Medication & Food Supplements:

Everything listed I take daily with meals – with the exception of Ompradex, which I take an hour before breakfast and dinner:

Omepradex Caplets (Omeprazole 1 x 20mg before breakfast & dinner) 

–  Manufacturer: Dexcel Pharma Ltd, OrAkiva,Israel

–  Purpose: Inhibiting acid secretion in the gastrointestinal tract.

Metformin Hydrochloride (Glucomin 2 x 850mg; 1 morning/1 evening)

 – Manufacturer: Dexcel Pharma Ltd, OrAkiva,Israel

 – Purpose: Antidiabetic to reduce sugar levels

Pankreoflat (Pancreatin [Amylase, Lipase, Proteases & Simethicone] 3 x daily

– Manufacturer: Solvay-Faes Farma SA,Spain

 – Purpose: Relief of abdominal distension due to cumulative gas & foam.

Curcumin (3 x 500mg with every meal)

– Manufacturer: VRP Brand, LLC,Carson City,NV89706,USA

Omega 3 (1 x 300mg with every meal)

– Manufacturer: Ocean Nutrition,Bedford,Nova Scotia,Canada

Pro-biotic (1 x 450mg with every meal)

– Manufacturer: Supherb, UpperNazereth,Israel

Calcium & Magnesium – ratio 2:1(1 x 300mg at breakfast and dinner)

– Manufacturer: Solgar,Leonia,NJ07605,USA

Multi-vitamin (1 x 150mg at breakfast and dinner)

– Manufacturer:Contrex Pharmaceutical,New York,USA

 

Hopefully I’m still helpful to fellow sufferers out there…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots to Celebrate

5 Apr

I have lots to celebrate. First of all, the holiday season is upon us again. Passover coincides with Easter – and whatever your persuasion – enjoy.

I must say that I had doubts that I would participate in last year’s Seder. This year I just feel blessed. And a great part of my good feeling – psychologically, if not always physically – is realizing how kind people are to me. The kindness manifests itself in so many ways. There are those who phone or e-mail. Those who take the trouble to bring me succulents that go directly to my stomach – and instantly help my well-being. I’ve been brought cheeses – even been charmed by home-made camembert. And biltong and berries. And meats and meals all made with ketogenic care. Food for thought indeed.

Kindness takes the cake. There have been so many examples – yesterday there was another one. A friend actually went to the trouble of contacting one of my life-time likes – West Ham United Football Club – and he was rewarded with an autographed photo of the players and an accompanying letter. These, he brought round in a surprise visit which caught me in a complete quandary. Abraxane had laid me low. Two days after my second treatment I’d “hit the wall” and I didn’t think myself capable of getting out of bed. Pam would have been perfectly capable of explaining my incapacity – and my visitor is too much of a gentleman to be intrusive.

Kindness is a therapy in a class of its own. I popped a Percocet[1] to relieve myself of some pain – and then was uplifted by the double act of kindness. Visits are so nice – but when so many of you are so thoughtful and so caring, I feel it is you who are carrying me through this ordeal.

I’ve been lucky enough to experience the same kindnesses before. Only this time the blog allows to me to cyberspace my thanks.

I’m still not on Facebook  – because there’s no substitute for “face to face”.

Happy Holidays to you all.     

 

 


[1] Percocet is a prescription drug. It’s a Paracetamol with Oxycodone, an opiate analgesic. It’s a local drug manufactured by Taro Pharmaceutical Industries,Haifa.