Column: Quality of Life

Column: Quality of Life

Throughout my nearly six and a half years of cancer treatment, starting at the initial Team Lourie meeting on February 27, 2009, when my oncologist suggested I take that vacation I’ve always dreamed of (to which I exclaimed “WHAT!?”), my quality of life has always been important to him. Whenever there has been a treatment blip on my radar, and changes had to be considered/made to my protocol, my oncologist has regularly asked if I wanted to continue treatment, take a break from treatment or stop it altogether and enjoy, if possible, whatever above-average good health I was experiencing while I could, because I might not experience it again and if I did, it might not last too long. Ergo my quality of life. Diagnosis-to-date however, I have always opted to continue to damn the torpedoes and infuse full speed. Oddly enough, continuing to infuse has worried me less than not infusing at all.

As I progress through year seven, I am wondering yet again about quality of life. Though we are not at any kind of crossroads – treatment or otherwise, and my lab work continues to indicate that my body is able to tolerate my every-three-week infusions of Alimta, I do have my less-than-stellar moments. This is particularly so for the seven to ten days immediately following my infusion. It is during this time when a certain predictable side effect occurs, having first manifested itself about six months ago, to make me less pleasant than I’d prefer to be. What happens is I don’t eat, not too much anyway. Because I can’t. Because I won’t. Because something somewhere – internally, psychologically, physically – is preventing me from doing so. In general, the whole idea of eating is a total turn off. And given my nature/proclivities, I need it to be a turn on. As a result, I’m always hungry. And then I get tired from not eating (no energy). Then I take a nap. Then at bedtime, I’m unable to fall asleep because I’ve slept some already. Eventually, I do get some sleep, but I end up having a restless, interrupted, short, REM-less sleep and wake up tired the next day when the routine starts all over again; except now I’m tired to begin the day and don’t have any interest in breakfast, so I get no boost to start. The marijuana pills I wrote about don’t help. Consequently, I seem to be stuck in this cycle of depressing miserableness (is there any other kind?). Not gaining any pleasure from one of the staples of my existence is an extremely discouraging set of circumstances and is making Kenny a very dull boy, or at least duller than I usually am.

But, and it’s a HUGE but, the treatment is so-far-so-good, working; the tumors have not grown or moved – and I’m alive and reasonably well.

Still, one week of every three, I’m not a happy camper (and if I were actually camping – out of doors – I’d be even less happy, since I don’t camp). The question becomes, sort of: is camping all that important (euphemistically speaking)? Obviously, to me, living hungry is more important than dying satiated. But I don’t like being depressed and miserable one third of my time. That is an in-e-quality of life with which I’m not particularly pleased. Life goes on though, and for that, I’m over-the-top grateful – and amazingly, maybe even randomly, lucky. I just wish I could savor my next meal as much as I savor my survival. As my Auntie Irene used to say: “This too shall pass,” until two weeks from now, that is.