Below the Price of a Litre of Gas

I am wrapping up my third cycle on the chemo drug Capecitabin (also known as Xeloda). A cycle is three weeks. During weeks one and two, I take four pills in the morning and four in the evening. During week three, I get a break from taking drugs. Chemo is cumulative which means the side effects get worse with each cycle. In my case, the numbness in my hands and feet is bad. It is getting challenging to pick up small things like screws. Also, I did not realize how much we depend on feeling the ground through the souls on our feet when we walk. It seems to be a key part of being stable when standing, walking, or running (not that I’m doing much right now). My gait is deliberate these days and I try to keep a wide stance when walking in an effort to avoid falling. An additional side effect of this numbness is how quickly it becomes unbearable pain in the cold. Thankfully that passes once I warm up my hands with gloves or the heater in the car.

Below are the key values I track in my bloodwork. For me, the May 10th values are good numbers which is encouraging. At some point my Oncologist will want me to have a chemo holiday which means a few weeks off drugs. This is a low-risk break from treatment to give my body a change to improve my counts.

Right now I feel pretty good. Like all cancer patients, we will never feel normal-healthy again and all have good and bad days. I have more days that I feel okay or near-normal. My bad ones are characterized by extreme exhaustion. In a three-week cycle, I seem to have two to three bad days and mostly just stay in bed. Even on the good days, I tire quickly but a mid-day nap perks me up. The bottom line is that I am doing just fine.

Fuel pricing is government-regulated in Nova Scotia. At the time of writing, the price of regular unleaded self-service must fall between a minimum of $1.275 to a maximum of $1.298 per litre. The reason I bring that number into this post is that ever time I pass one of the signs with the price, it makes me think of my weight. As shown on the road sign in the image the price is displayed as 121.9 which was the price when Google Maps drove by this station. Right now, the signs around Halifax display127.5 as the price per litre for regular grade. Last week my weight dropped to 124.9 lbs. (56.7 kg) which strikes me as funny being lower than the price of a litre of gas. And that makes me less than half of the weight I was four years ago. There is no 67 year-old 5’7″ male on this blue dot called planet earth who should be that weight.

I do eat continuously throughout the day although with a smaller portion size than most healthy people. The absence of a stomach in my GI, which was surgically removed a year ago, there is no place to store what I consume. What happens when I eat too much is that the food passes through my GI at an accelerated rate. This is called food dumping. It results in extreme diarrhea and little of the contents are absorbed into my system. Eating slowly and small portions is the way to avoid this condition. In fact, by chewing more than most people to ensure what I swallow is easier to digest proves to be quite a benefit. I have come to savour my food more than in the past as the tastes linger in my mouth for a longer period. This is a good thing and I encourage all to slow down when eating and chew every bite longer. I can guarantee you will have a far more satisfying dining experience.

I have started to drink Ensure Plus Calories. It is a recommendation from my Nutritionist as a way to gain weight. It seems to be working as yesterday I was up to 133.9 lbs. (60.7 kgs.). It gives me a chuckle to think I have to work at packing on the pounds given I’ve spent a lifetime as an fat guy wanting to be smaller.

This week I decided to go with a new look. My hair was thinning so I decided to finish the job. I actually like this shinny top. I found an old pair of glasses which I think work well with being bald. What do you think?

Also in the picture you can see I am wearing a crew shirt for the boat. I got these made locally for everyone in the family along with Nancy, Brad, Bret, and Matt. I think we’re going to look pretty fashionable when the crowd-size restrictions are lifted and we can get together as a group. There are fifteen of these shirts in circulation. If you are interested in having one, with taxes they run about $50 each. My local supplier would be more than thrilled if I came to him with a order for ten more. No pressure; just putting it out there in case your adding to your wardrobe these days.

In case you are curious, my current chemo drug is Capecitabine (also known as Xeloda). It is a type of chemotherapy called an anti metabolite where the body absorbs it and converts it to fluorouracil. Fluorouracil prevents cancer cells from replicating. My Oncologist views it as a good maintenance drug for the time being. Eventually, like all my fellow cancer patients, I will become chemo-resistant. When that happens, my cancer, which has been responding to my therapy, will suddenly begin to grow. In the words, my cancer will overcome the effect of the drug and become called a “cancer chemotherapy fail.” My only option is to switch to a different drug provided there is one appropriate for me to take. If not, then although I won’t be able to share it with you, I will have the answer to the question about our existence after life.

As always, I thank you for being a support-pillar during this adventure. It motivates me to stay upbeat and attempt to live each day large.

Peace, Love, and Laughter

20 Replies to “Below the Price of a Litre of Gas”

  1. The bad shiney look suits ya’! Also Blue is a good colour for you!! Can’t wait to see pics of you kids on the boat!

  2. Hi Phil- so glad the fight is continuing even though it is still a struggle.You do continue to amaze.Do love the glasses!!
    We are gearing up for another fight here looks like- Bruce’s pancreatic cancer markers are rising very quickly so of course they feel there is recurrence- so far radiology has not shown anything but has an MRI in 2 weeks.Apparently these markers are very sensitive and show cancer before scans- not sure what the next chemo might be as he has had so much and this cancer is so unstoppable!We feel your pain( and Janet’s for sure as we travel the same road- stay positive and keep moving ahead.God Bless!

    1. It is always great to hear from you even when the news about Bruce is so tough. Like all my cohort in the cancer crowd, I have good and bad days but thankfully more are on the good side of the formula. Bruce is in my prayers as are you as the unwavering support pillar you proving to be. Life used to be so simple eh? A big dilemma was a bad bottle of wine in a restaurant!

      Peace, Love, and Laughter

  3. I think your new look makes you look dashing! You look very hip! I’m glad you’re gaining weight, the wonders of Ensure! You really do look good, keep up the good work! You are an inspiration to all!

    1. Thanks … hard to believe when I met you at the wedding I was weighing in at about 280. My current 130+ is a far cry from those days. I don’t know if you saw my post but yesterday I got a new pair of sweat pants at Under Armor … size Youth XL and they fit perfectly. The upside is that youth clothing is about 1/2 of adult sizes.

  4. I think the glasses and new “hairdo” look good! As always, sending warm wishes and positive thoughts. Looking forward to seeing the sailing posts. Thanks for sharing your journey with us, you are an incredible inspiration. May we all savor each bite of food as well as each phase of life…

    1. Just started my day at the Airbnb with a wonderful feed of poached eggs and a tall glass of OJ with a fire going in the air tight. I’m looking forward to seeing the Mooseland Estate. With all your upgrades it tough to know how to classify it; cottage, camp, compound, etc?

      Peace, Love, and Laughter

    1. So far 2 friends have asked to get their own. There look pretty special. Janet and I both have red boat jackets with the embroidery. I’m slight out of control with the branding. I have a vanity plate on-route for the car which reads “2NDWIND.” I also have a bunch of temporary tattoos with the hopes there will an on-water event or two before the end of the season.

    1. Thanks for the well wishes. My hope was to have my blog be the most “teachable moment” of my life. Living with cancer is terrifying and there are many people who don’t have the support pillars in their lives I enjoy. My hope is to be there for those folks and at the same time empower loved ones of those with cancer to know how important support pillars are to help tough out the bad days. No one with cancer will experience a normal-health day again but there will be days when you get close.

      Peace, Love, and Laughter

  5. Think of you and Janet often Phil. You have made me (and I’m sure, many others) learn to appreciate the important things in life we so often take for granted, especially our health.
    Continue to feel well and thank you again for sharing your journey with so many of us,

    Virtual hugs,
    Rita and Ted

    1. I do look forward to getting together soon. I think a harbour sail and supper on the boat would be a lot of run.

      Thanks for all the love – right back at you.


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