Monday 26 October 2009

A primer on cancer and chemotherapy

Knowing more about it all

I have decided to provide a basic primer on cancer and some detail as to what lead to the diagnosis and treatment recommended for me.

This might help you answer some questions and in other cases leave you with even more questions. Please bear with me; I may not be able to address some more personal aspects of the information until a future date.

The important thing is; we know what it is, it can be treated, it is being treated, I am responding to the treatment, I believe I would be completely healed and any support leading to the goal of full recovery from affliction through survival to thriving is well appreciated.

Thank you friends, well-wishers and readers for your understanding. I also appreciate that connections and allusions can be made with the information offered – the cardinal thought and driving credo I have had for a very long time is – I will never live as if I am dying, I do NOT intend to start doing that now. I live to live well.

A primer on cancer and chemotherapy

The beginning

A basic primer on cancer, the cancer I was diagnosed with was Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) [1] and there are many variations of it, but due to a pre-existing condition, this manifested first as if it was athlete’s foot [2] and was localised to my toes and my soles.

The regular athlete’s foot treatments that cleared up the infection every summer before did not seem to catch on that I started using foot baths of Dead Sea salts; this aggravated the situation because it softened my skin to the point that lots of it rubbed off and came off allowing for other bacterial infections.

I should have had this checked around this time but a culture of self-medication along with an apparent shyness of doctors did not help – you learn, you change, you live.

Initial ideas and treatments

The infection became deep-seated and painful requiring medical attention and consequently the diagnosis that involves the treatment I am having now. The lesions that appeared under my feet first made them suspect a diabetes-related issue but my blood pressure in my extremities read as normal, that was eliminated along with results from the blood tests and the gathering consensus was KS, which was confirmed after the deep biopsies.

Because of the strong smell coming from the lesions, the infection had a bacterial component which was treated with a number of antibiotics as Metronidazole [3] used to treat fungating tumours but was not entirely effect and Flucloxacillin [4] which is a narrow-spectrum antibiotic.

Whilst these both seemed to reduce the smell and the pain, the lesions which had dried up in a manner under the sole but had become a bit less so under the toes meant a more aggressive course of treatment was needed.

Chemotherapy as a course of treatment

The agreed best course was chemotherapy [5]. Chemotherapy is in the broadest sense the treatment of disease by chemicals. These chemicals may have properties that inhibit the rapid multiplication of cells which is an attribute of cancer as well as work on aspects of the characteristics of cancers, their location in the body and the way it spreads.

The course recommended for me is Liposomal Doxorubicin [6] – liposomal meaning encapsulated in some fatty molecule and Doxorubicin is a very strong antibiotic. What happens is the liposomes allow for a slow release of the disease fighting chemical into the body after intravenous introduction which just takes an hour and this is not fully excreted from the body for up to six days.

This chemotherapy is widely used for many cancers and is very tolerable without most of the side effects associated with other chemotherapy treatments, I am glad about that, but one has been provided with medication against nausea, I prayed about it all.


[1] Kaposi's sarcoma - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Athlete's foot - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[3] Metronidazole - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] Flucloxacillin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[5] Chemotherapy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[6] Doxorubicin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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