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  • Tommy Pacello

It’s been a while since my last post.


September getaway to Prim, Arkansas

The last post was generally good news. We had just received the result of my first scans since treatment started, and the cancer was responding well to treatment. I was gaining weight, putting together a physical training plan and feeling fit enough to work 30-35 hours per week. So much improvement from when the pain was so bad that I had to take multiple hot showers and baths at night and sometimes needed Olivia’s help just to walk downstairs. We have come a long way.

Since the last post life has become more complicated. Demands at work are increasing for both Olivia and me. We bought a house and are now in the middle of a move. I added 3-4 weekly weight training sessions, and Cecile started walking (running) all over the house, requiring increased supervision. All of these are wonderful things that enrich our lives but also require more energy and time.

Unfortunately, this time and energy must come from somewhere, and with more demands something has to give. In short, I’ve had less time to dedicate to my healing. Skipped meals here and there, one smoothie instead of my desired two a day, too many take-out meals that are not always as healthy as we’d like. Finding the hour each morning for meditation and centering prayers has become more difficult, and my regular walks have fallen off too. There is a lot going on right now. Some of it will pass, but establishing a new health-focused routine is a critical step in the weeks ahead.

So how’s my health? I continue to feel pretty good. I don’t have any of the pain that is so often associated with late stage cancer. Sure, there are some discomforts. The lesions on my spine and lower back become sensitive if I sleep in the same position all night, or if I take a long bumpy car ride, but generally, I have no pain. I’m maintaining my weight, and some weeks I’m gaining a little. I weighed in at 167.9lbs this week. This up from a low of 154lbs.

I started weight training with Mark Akin at Envision Fitness. After a few weeks I’m starting to see some progress. Not so much in building mass but in endurance. Remember that I lost 45lbs in two months and most of that was muscle mass. Mark understands we are starting from absolute ground zero. He is patient but also pushes me to do one more rep or up the weight one level. I’m really enjoying Mark’s approach and style of training. He has been a fantastic addition to our team.

In some regards I’m handling the chemo hangover about the same, maybe even a little better, but this is also where some of the bad news kicks in. During earlier treatment cycles, specifically the ones right before my last scans, I would have the four-day hangover, but once the clouds lifted, I generally felt great, almost like I was cancer free. However, recently I’m not bouncing back with the same level of peppiness as I had been. The past couple of cycles I’ve had the same chemo hangover (in some ways it’s been better), but the fatigue and weakness have persisted for days after the chemo hangover lifts. Mornings are good, but I hit a wall about 3pm and need to take extra meds to get through the afternoon and evening with the kids.

I’m also having problems with chemo-induced neuropathy. I have a mild loss of feeling down my right calf and some loss of movement in my right foot. This should be temporary, but in the meantime I’m walking with a slight limp. As I noticed on a hike this past weekend, I’m a little less steady on my feet than normal. My doctors have since adjusted my chemo cocktail to help mitigate these symptoms.

So what does all this mean? It’s hard to tell right now. My doctors say the fatigue and weakness could be linked to several factors: how much more difficult our lives have been in the past six weeks, the recent change in my meds, the cumulative effects of the chemo, or the cancer becoming more active. I have another set of scans in two weeks, and we will have a lot more information and can start ruling out some of the potential causes. Even with the fatigue and weakness I’m still much better off than many others going through chemo.

I’m working on another post that will speak more to the emotional side of this disease and the evolution through the various stages of processing a terminal diagnosis. Basically, what’s it like knowing you are playing in stoppage time. I hope to have that posted in the next few days.

Thank you for the kind and encouraging notes. Even if they seem simple or insignificant to you these notes really do give us a boost. We will never be able to thank each of you sufficiently for the kindness, love, and encouragement you are showing our family. We could not get through this without you.

Sending Love and Thanks to you.

Tommy

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