The Chemo Chronicles Part II: An Interview With Stuey

Stuart is now in the home stretch with only a few more weeks to go. The guy is a trooper, and is still able to accomplish more while going through this than I have… probably in my entire life.

He continues to be an inspiration and anyone going through a similar plight should use Stuart as an example of how to stay strong, upbeat and even productive. Truly amazing stuff.

Stuey: Aw shucks, Mayo, knock it off.  Use me as an example? Good God man. I’ve just had a really easy time of it, compared to most. At the start of Cycle 3 consult, Dr. Oh-My-God-She’s-Hot  said she was really pleased with how well I was handling it physically with such an intense chemo regimen, and she didn’t want to tell me beforehand how bad it could be because she didn’t want to “put ideas in my head,” as if THAT hasn’t already happened like a million times. She also said I must have tiger blood and I can’t possibly be 100% human and even though that creeps her out a little she’s powerfully intrigued and wishes things were different and she wasn’t already married. Well, she said that last part with her eyes anyway. I’m pretty sure I read that look correctly.

Mayo: If you do have tiger blood, I think we can sell it on the internet. I’ll look into the legalities. Well, we’re past the halfway point and I have to say, you look amazing. And while I’m a little disappointed that you’re not able to climb walls or hang upside and kiss hot redheads, I see that you’re now generating electricity.

Stuey: Oh my God I had a blast at the Halloween party. We should totally do it again next year. Special thanks to Nurse Nichole, who gave me the go-ahead to have not one, but TWO Sam Adams Coastal Wheats that night. Those had to be the 2 best-tasting beers I ever had. <Smack>

Mayo: I’ll bet. I usually like to have a couple of beers before I have four more. Listen, my cabin is a little under-powered and I’ve been having some heat issues. I woke up this morning and my butt cheeks were frozen together.  Since you’re generating a substantial amount of amperage now, would you mind standing outside my place and holding an extension cord for let’s say… I don’t know… April? I’m willing to pay… trade for things. Do you need a lint-roller, gum or any unopened workout DVDs?  Got a ton of those.

Stuey: I’ll check my calendar and get back to you on that. Maybe when my powers kick in I can shoot some webbing around as insulation, but I understand that stuff disintegrates after a time. No offense, but no way in hell I’m getting anywhere near your sub-zero butt cheeks, no matter how germ-free, we covered that last time, NTTAWWT. For the record, I can still hang upside down and kiss hot redheads, and at the soonest opportunity I plan to do both at the same time. Paging hot redheads! <Picks up cell phone, hits speed dial.> Kirsten, get over here! What d’ya mean you’re not a redhead anymore?  <Hangs up. Rubs stubbly bald head.>

Mayo: I can’t hang upside down at all. I’d get a headache and might throw up in her mouth, a very uncool, unspidey-like maneuver. Speaking of throwing up, one of your larger concerns going into this whole thing was the potential hurl factor, or PHF as it’s known in the medical circles I roll in. Especially considering that you chose the more intense, shorter treatment. Describe to us, without talking about puke (so I don’t puke), how you’ve been feeling, the intensity of the program, the side effects and if there’s any food you can’t eat that you’d like me to come get from you. You know, because just looking at it makes you queasy. I’m here to help in any way I can. (Nothing with coconut, please.)

Stuey: Wow. We jumped straight over fart jokes right to inverse intermouth ultra-yuck. You’re really gross, you know that? But yeah, I figured by now I’d be spending all my time either in bed, or at the throne, or low-crawling back and forth between my bed and the throne. It just hasn’t been that way for me, I’ve been very lucky with it I guess. I’m kind of worried that talking about it will piss people off who have had a hard time with it. I know I’d be pissed if I felt like total crap all the time and some clown came along saying, “Pbbbt! Nothing to it! Chemotherapy’s a complete doddle!” Yeah that would crawl all over me. But if it helps, I think the two critical keys have been making sure to stay plenty rested and listening to my cravings. Eating nearly always helps with the quease. Buddha-belly isn’t going away as hoped, but most days I feel at least 70% normal. Strangely enough my biggest craving has been for coconut, it’s in everything I eat now, so come on over any time! We’ll do chow.

Hey last time I told you about the nurses, you want to see them? They let me take a photo with them in the infusion room (cause they liked my shirt)…

        L to R: Nurse Towanda, Nurse Minty, Nurse Nichole, & Nurse Kim

Mayo: Grrrrrrrr… you weren’t kidding (eyes bulge like in cartoons, makes whooping noise, trots around box he lives in while smacking rear). They are some fine looking ladies. I want one of those shirts, too. Not the one you’re wearing. I like the one that Towanda is wearing. I would also like Kim’s stethoscope and two… make that three tongue depressors. I think it’s only fair that you try to hook that up, especially since I’m taking all that food off your hands at no charge (additional charge).  I also notice there’s a line going into your chest. So, in this picture, are the chemicals going in? Because I have to say, you look pretty relaxed.  You’re not crying, swinging wildly at everyone around you or screaming for your mom to make it end… basically all the things I would be doing. What’s it feel like and why aren’t you crying?

Stuey: Crying time was over for the day and all the patients had pretty much settled down when this was taken. But these nurses, to look at them you’d never know that one of their many daily tasks is pumping (literally, there’s a pump) toxic chemicals into my bloodstream. It goes through that tube into my awesomely cool cyborg chest port and is delivered directly into the jugular. Doesn’t hurt a bit, just a bit of a sting when they “access” the port, which means a needle goes through my chest skin into the port. No biggie. Beats the ever-loving crap out of having to get an IV every day. I’ll get you Nurse Towanda’s shirt and Nurse Kim’s stethoscope (it’ll be OK, they’re all mad about me, of course) but you’re on your on for the tongue depressors. Those things are on total lock-down. Something about the North Koreans.

But you were asking about the drugs and side effects…I have that here somewhere <throws cat from desk, shuffles papers around.> Here it is.

Bleomycin (if NOT administered with the steroid pre-med) after a 3-4 hour delay gives me the flu…chills, fever, violent shakes, dread, total loss of all super-powers, fetal curl, debilitating fatigue, hair loss. Sort of makes me feel like this:

When administered WITH the steroid pre-med, then I get mild yawning followed by grocery shopping. I love my oncology nurses, they now let me have steroids before every Bleo.

Cisplatin, the way I understand it, this was the one discovered in the 1970’s that raised the cure rate from 10% to 96%. It causes cancer cells by the skillions to commit suicide horribly and with gruesome overkill. Side effects: hair loss, mild to moderate quease, and the spirits of my ancestors don’t talk to me and tell me cool stuff about the other side or my own journey. Of course they never did before, thank God, cause that would really scare the sh** out of me, and so it’s really not fair to blame the cisplatin for this one.

Etoposide wins the prize for least favorite – chills, prodigious amplification of production quotas at the gas factory, and the occasional random unwarranted boner, all DURING infusion, mind you. After etoposide, they could give me a wheelchair and it would be self-propelled, if you catch my drift, which I do NOT recommend at all. And please do not dwell on the mental image of a blanket-wrapped bald guy zooming along in a fart-powered wheelchair with an entirely inappropriate bulge leading the way. It’s not healthy.

Mayo: Perhaps they swapped your meds with refried beans and Viagra. Probably an inside oncology joke…  “It’s time for the Etoposide (giggle).”  By the way, I love that thing that holds people’s eyes open.  I could use one of those for when I’m trying to watch the presidential debates.  Do you think you can get one on E-bay?

Stuey: I’ll check with Nurse Minty, I bet she can find you one. But I think you’re going to have to come in and let them all meet you first. And if you want to try an infusion, who knows? Maybe they won’t be really busy. I’ll hook you up myself, I like to help out. I’m an expert now. Sort of.

Mayo: That sounds awesome! Maybe we can just use that expanding foam to keep me cozy for the winter. In all seriousness and if memory serves correctly (which it almost never does,) you had a treatment today, one next Monday and you’re done (hopefully). Just in time for Thanksgiving. Awesome. I think we’ll do one final wrap-up, but until then, any thoughts you would like to leave us with?

Stuey: Just want to proffer my thanksgiving to the multitude of friends and family who have been on fire sending prayers and well wishes my way. Even your blogosphere friends, Mayo, who don’t know me from Adam’s housecat, and used to scare me a little bit but not anymore. I am utterly convinced that you all have had a profound effect on my experience, for the good. And I want to thank everyone for keeping the same spirit of healing mojo rolling for fellow Dipster cancer warriors Deena, who was just diagnosed, and Claudia, who continues her long fight. Your thoughts really do make a positive influence physically.

Thanks again for the time, Mayo! Can’t wait for the wrap-up. I have a couple more infusion room antics to tell. It’s a good thing the nurses are not humor-impaired, heh-heh.

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6 responses to “The Chemo Chronicles Part II: An Interview With Stuey

  1. Well, this episode was more informative than the rest…but STILL very humorous and HIGHLY ENTERTAINING. WELL DONE (Again) Gentlemen!!!!

  2. You’re both amazing, Stuey because of your fantastic spirit, and May because I can envision what he wrote. Stuey, know that Allen and I are keeping you in our prayers and thoughts. Every Fri. night at services you’re on the get well listing.

  3. You should have seen the Saint’s fan sitting 2 down from Stuart yesterday. I think she made his markers go up.

  4. Stuey, you know the steroids are keeping you from losing much weight, don’t you? I still have to take steroids but not nearly as much as I did during the heavy treatment. Hence I have lost 16 lbs. since March but you can’t tell it by looking because the steroids still make me “puffy”. So there’s hope for you losing weight yet. Just sayin’………

  5. You make me smile as usual! However, I can’t seem to get the wheelchair image out of my mind…I may have nightmares… If I wake up in the middle of the night running through my house then I will have John call you!
    Prayers with all the warriors!!! 🙂

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