Rest and Recharge (Chemotherapy #28)

I haven’t posted to the blog in a very long while because WordPress automatically upgraded to version 6.3 and I seemed to have lost everything.  I got into the FTP site and the database site and confirmed all the files were still there, and the databases and attachments intact, so I didn’t panic but I also didn’t have time to deal with the problem.  Life has been incredibly busy lately (maybe too busy), so for the first time in my life I think, I engaged the MyTime support team at Network Solutions (my hosting provider), who I essentially have been paying to do nothing for several months, and after a couple back-and-forths and near-successes, today they finally got the site back up and working.  I am so grateful since I don’t know all that much about WordPress and have been too busy wrapping up my life to deal with those details right now.  At least since the last blog disaster, I have my site backing up every day so not much would be lost.

Sending much love and gratefulness to Network Solutions!  Thanks!!

Chemo #28 was scheduled on my birthday and the day before that our company gave us a Global Recharge Day off work.  Woot!  So I decided to make an overnight trip to Beaufort NC to visit the NC Maritime Museum there.  There are three Maritime Museums in North Carolina, one in Beaufort, one in Southport, and one at Hatteras.  One of my goals is to visit them all and peruse the exhibits completely at my leisure, without people asking when we’re going to leave or telling me they’re bored.

Model of the Queen Anne’s Revenge

The big draw of the museum for me was the preserved artifacts from the wreck of Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, which is located in about 25 feet of water off Fort Macon near Atlantic Beach and the Beaufort Inlet.

Fort Macon NC
Fort Macon

The museum was very nice, and had some amazing artifacts including an unbroken wine glass, tons of cannons, cannonballs, powder, bells, weights and scales, tools, and the like.  There was also a lot of information and artifacts of Otway Burns, who was a privateer in the War of 1812.  Earlier I had seen his grave in the cemetery and it has a big cannon on it, so you couldn’t really miss it:

Privateer Otway Burns’ Grave

Also in the graveyard was the burial site of a little girl who died on the Atlantic crossing, and was placed in an empty rum barrel and buried on arrival.  People leave little gifts and toys for her.

Grave of the Girl in the Rum Barrel

Upon leaving the Maritime Museum, there is a cute little garden next door that is maintained by the town’s master gardeners.

A beautiful garden by the museum

For many years, Beaufort was a center of a menhaden fishery operation.  People in town say that it stank for many years until the menhaden ran dry and the processing plants closed down.  The plants made fish oil and fertilizer that was shipped inland on trains.  In the center of town near the museum there is a beautiful monument to the Menhaden.

The Menhaden Monument

Also in town is a monument to Michael John Smith, and the local airport is also named for him.  He was the pilot of the Space Shuttle Challenger and died in the explosion.

Michael John Smith Monument

I stopped in to play a couple games of pool at the Royal James Cafe and the locals were having a 9-ball tournament I was too chicken to play in, mostly because the tables were simply awful.  I wasn’t brave enough to tackle the menu as I wasn’t much in the mood for bar food that day.

The Royal James Cafe (and Pool Hall)
The locals playing a 9-ball tournament

I stayed in the Beaufort Hotel, which was once the site of a fish processing plant.  Everyone in town seems very happy to have the fish plant replaced with a posh hotel.  I got to swim in the pool and enjoyed wearing their plush bathrobe and slippers.  I had a wonderful night’s sleep, the best I can remember in a long time.  For breakfast the next morning, they made all kinds of keto substitutions for me like adding goat cheese and avocado to my breakfast of crab cakes with poached egg and Hollandaise sauce, and they gave me a complimentary cheesecake dessert for my birthday.  Cheesecake is not on the low-carb menu, but I didn’t have a lot of it and it was my birthday weekend after all.  The Beaufort Hotel treats you like royalty, it was exceptionally nice.

The Lobby of the Beaufort Hotel

Driving around Beaufort, it was hard not to fall in love with the tidy houses with cedar planking, and the trees were incredibly shady and delightfully crooked.  The whole town is like something out of a movie, it was not too crowded with tourists and the locals were exceptionally friendly.

The tree-covered Front Street

On the road I had lunch at the famous King’s Barbeque, though in the market side and not the restaurant side.  Just incredible barbeque, in a cute historic setting.  It was the best!

I’m still working out how to make good selfies.  I look really goofy in this photo at King’s Barbeque.

My Birthday Chemotherapy

The next day I woke up for my lab appointment, oncologist visit and chemotherapy infusion.  Chemo #28!  This cycle, my carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) levels were down 33%!  This is a miraculous reduction!  What a wonderful birthday present!  I think the low carb is working.  There is one curious thing I learned later from my eye doctor, Dr. Silver.  She said that I should try adding doxycycline for 10-day stretches alternated with vitamin C.  Just by a weird coincidence, I had a skin infection more than a week before my birthday and my primary care providers gave me 10 days of doxycycline to deal with it.  Before or after this, I have never had such a dramatic reduction in CEA with chemotherapy.  Previous reductions were through radical surgery, ablation, or radiation killing tumors outright.  An interesting coincidence?!

A graph of my CEA results over the last couple years.

My lab results came back fairly positive.  My white blood cell count was low at 2.2×10^9/L (3.2 is the low target), platelets were 105×10^9/L (150 is the low target), Hemoglobin was 13.6 g/dL (13.7 is the low target), Neutrophils were low at 1.2×10^9/L (2.0 is the low target), otherwise OK. 

My oncologist is quite upset at my weight loss.  I am expected to stay around 204 lbs and I was at 185.  He told me to “liberalize” my diet.

So we proceeded with the FOLFIRI+BEV regimen (irinotecan, 5-fluouroracil, and bevacizumab).  The infusion was pretty easy, a bit of cramping during infusion but  we finished and I went home with the 5-FU chemo football.

I woke up in the middle of the night and had no nausea whatsoever.  This is very common now since I moved to the low-carb diet.  In fact, I didn’t have many terrible side-effects at all except fatigue on Wednesday after the dexamethasone wore off, and I needed 20-minute afternoon naps on Thursday and Friday.

The next day my wife presented me with an amazing keto birthday cake inspired by Raspberry Zingers (my favorite!), and made of almond flour, splenda, lots of butter and egg.  It had a splenda-sweetened whipped cream frosting with dehydrated raspberries powdered in a blender, and a few raspberries on top.  It was incredible.  I think she is the only person in North Carolina who can make such amazing Keto confections.

My wife made me this amazing Keto birthday cake!

A day later I visited my endocrinologist.  Dr. Becker looked at my lab results and announced that with an HgbA1C of 5.7, and an average blood glucose on my Freestyle Libre of 94, I am no longer diabetic and he took me off my Jardiance medicine.  It only really helps when your blood sugar goes above 150 — it helps your kidneys pee out the excess blood sugar and as it has a slight diuretic effect, it may be causing me to lose more weight on the low carb diet than I should be losing.  Since it costs my insurance about $600 a month, this is nice to get rid of.  He wrote me a prescription for glimeperide 4mg in case I need it, 2mg in the morning and 2mg at night, it should help me keep blood sugars down and gain weight or at least not lose it.  It is an old reliable generic drug and costs only a couple of dollars a month.

I also visited the nutritionist at our work Health Center and after listening to my problems with low carb/keto, she announced I was the first person EVER to ask her how to gain weight on Keto.  She recommended bile salts to assist where my removed gall bladder once perfectly allowed me to digest fats, and recommended adding nuts like walnuts and pecans to get a few more calories and nutrients.

I was glad that Chemotherapy #28 went so well, and that I felt great by the weekend, because next we went on a week-long family vacation to Cook Forest PA. But more on that in a later posting!

9 thoughts on “Rest and Recharge (Chemotherapy #28)

  1. What an amazing few days you had by yourself. I think we all should do that once in awhile. I’m happy Chemo went so well. Maybe you can gain some weight now that you’re off the medicine. Hang tough. I love you and sending prayers. ❤💋🙏🙏

    • It was so nice. Chemo really wears you down physically and mentally. It is a good thing to do some self-care and boost your mood through travel and adventures. I have been gaining weight too, without sacrificing the parameters of the diet I’m settling into. Love you always and thank you for all the prayers and support!

  2. Your selfies aren’t that bad 🤣, you’re looking great, had fun reading the blog about your adventures, happy the Chemo was okay.

    • I think I’m mastering the art of taking pictures of myself at arm’s length, but my expressions are kind of silly because I feel awkward when people see me do it. Chemo was very easy on round 28, the only real side effects in the end were the ever-present fatigue and a single mouth sore… I do so hate the mouth sores but they are not as bad on this diet.

  3. So glad you didn’t lose all your blog. Too much work goes into them. Does sound like the no carbs is working in your favor. I love your selfie. You look great. Keep up the good work. I love you lots. Stay strong!

    • I am glad at the positive selfie support. Selfies still feel awkward and it seems to come out in my expressions.

      I feel great and am happy that I look great too! It is best to feel your happiest energy inside and out when something like cancer is trying to bring you down.

  4. That cake looks amazing and so does your selfie. Love to hear all of the great news here!

    I have always been amused that there’s a Beaufort in NC and SC, but that they’re pronounced differently.

  5. I continue to be inspired by you! So glad your blog is on going and allows you to post your progress! Prayers continue to help and positive thoughts being shared with you! Hugs and energy sent your way!!!

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