Tuesday, July 15, 2008


The last few days I’ve had an on-again-off-again ache in my stomach. It feels acidic, ulcer-like. Sometimes it swells and blooms into a wave of nausea. Two days ago it grew very strong and I vomited most of the meal I’d just eaten. Last night it happened again several hours after dinner. I didn’t have much in my stomach at that point, so I stood over the toilet drooling and dry-heaving until it passed. In both instances, it passed pretty quickly.

Big question: Is it the drugs or is it the stress? (Or maybe the cabbage salad I’d eaten both days?)

Footnote: I met with my doctor earlier and told her about the vomiting. She had my latest lab report in front of her and was about to ask me if I’ve been nauseous. The labs showed an elevated level of pancreatic enzymes, “a touch of pancreatitis” which can cause nausea, especially from fatty foods.

In addition to the cabbage salad, I had spare ribs both days. I cook them on the outdoor grill with nothing on them, so a lot of the fat drips off, but they are still a fatty cut of meat.

Mystery solved.

I’m at the Cancer Center for the last of my four initial immunotherapy treatments. In three weeks I’ll have a scan, and see my doctor a couple of days later. Then I’ll be free of medical appointments for three whole months!

In late October I’ll have another, more meaningful scan, and a maintenance infusion of
Ipilimumab, and that will be the schedule from then on: treatment and scan every three months as long as my doctor and I want to keep it going.

In truth, I feel very good. I like the idea that my own immune system is doing the heavy lifting; I’m not being force-fed poisons that kill everything in sight and suppress my immune system in the process. Chemotherapy is hard to endure; this treatment is much easier on the system and much easier to live with.

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