Note: I feel guilty most of my links refer you to Wikipedia articles, but they’re usually great overviews for a topic.

It’s official: I begin chemotherapy next Monday!

It seems like a weird thing to be excited about, but I’ve been intrigued by this whole “brain cancer/tumor” thing all along. To begin with, neurology is an interesting subject, and now that it’s applied to me it is even more interesting. Everything from seizures, to surgeries, to after effects, the brain is fascinating. I mean, I always knew I had a brain but it isn’t until you feel the effects of abnormal brain functioning do you realize how powerful and complex it can truly be.

Everyone I have known with cancer has had to endure crazy shit when it came to chemo. Some people participate in chemotherapy five days a week for 45-minute treatments. Other people go one day a week for all-day treatments. Patients are hooked up to an IV receiving chemo straight into their bloodstream. The whole point of chemo is to prevent additional cell growth (mitosis), and hopefully shrink remaining cells/tumor.

If a patient has a high grade tumor, or tumor growth becomes more aggressive after surgery, oncologists may prescribe radiation therapy. Radiation directed toward the tumor kills cells–both cancerous and normal. Hopefully the normal cells grow back over time, and the cancer cells stay away permanently. Patients undergo radiation treatment for various time periods depending on the part of the body radiated. For the brain this totals six weeks.

I am truly lucky to be eligible for (what I think is probably) the easiest chemotherapy solution ever. I will be treated with a drug called Temodar This treatment came out of a clinical trial phase two years ago and is available to people with certain types of brain tumors. Temodar is taken orally, and treatment for me involves taking the pill for five days (a work week) and then having three weeks off. I know: WTF? How cool is this? Of course I expect nausea and possible hair loss as a side affect, but I don’t have to go anywhere or receive intravenous therapy.

Sadly, people suffering from tumors like mine 2+ years ago did not have Temodar as an option (though they had other, more tradition chemo options). This makes me think about breakthroughs that might be available two years from now. (Note to those of you who know Logan Whitehurst: Logan suffered from a neurological cancer different from my own and his treatments and physical side effects were different.)

Ultimately, as a person with cancer, my goal is to live long enough to benefit from the next generation of treatment. This is the same “fix” for anyone with cancer that is not (yet) in remission, because guess what? There is no “cure” for cancer.

As a matter of fact, the World Health Organization only recently classified cancer as “chronic disease,” like diabetes and strokes. This may sound sucky, but it sure beats the previous classification as a “deadly disease”.