The Trifecta of Cancer

I’ve written about it before, the three biggest “quality of life” issues that face a cancer patient—pain, nausea and fatigue.

Mom continues to struggle with all three.

For a few weeks, the nausea was generally managed. She would feel crappy for a day or two after chemotherapy, and would slowly get back to normal before starting over again. (She has two weeks of chemotherapy, followed by a week off.) Now the nausea is stubborn and persistent, despite having three different drugs administered prior to her chemo this morning, and taking two different nausea drugs this afternoon. Even a full week after a chemo session, she is still vomiting.

Her abdominal pain has come in waves over the last several months. Two doctors have two different opinions on the cause. X-rays ruled out an obstruction. But none has suggested an endoscopy to take a peek in her stomach. Her latest doctor will see her again in three weeks, and then perhaps will perform the procedure if the “anti spasm” drugs don’t seem to help.

Her oncologist scolded her slightly about using the fentanyl patch. She had let the prescription run out last week and decided to ‘wait an see’ what the doctor says. What she got was two days of serious pain. He re-emphasized the importance of aggressively managing her pain. He doubled the dose on the patch, and told her not to concern herself with the number on the patch. Rather she should focus on the number on the pain scale.

The patch takes several hours to kick in. She put one on yesterday evening and by this morning, she said she was pain free. This was the first time I had ever heard her say that in my life.

Fatigue seems to be a part of life now, just measured in degrees. Chemo days are usually toughest on her. So we keep it simple and low-key.

I’m hoping that we can find some dose or drug cocktail that consistently helps her manage these vexing effects. For now it seems like a crap shoot and a guessing game.

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