Today is the day I finally start chemotherapy, and while I would be surprised if there weren't some unpleasant side effects, I'm actually looking forward to it. It marks the beginning of treatment that is more precautionary than absolutely necessary -- they think they got all the cancer with the Whipple surgery and haven't detected any other hot spots -- it still strikes me as a good idea. And beginning the therapy means that I can see an end to it and a resumption of something resembling normal life.
We feel better about starting chemo (the compound they're using is Gemzar) after having gotten a second opinion from Dr. Noam Drazin, the chemotherapist my surgeon, Dr. Nicholas Nissen, normally uses. He was very impressive in his knowledge, and told us he would have used Gemzar, perhaps in a slightly different regimen, and that our doctors in Murrieta seem to know what they're doing. He also had a comforting statistic none of our other doctors had imparted to us. The five-year survival rate after Whipple, even without chemo and radiation, is 70% for the stage of cancer I had. With chemo it should be better -- and aside from that nasty tumor I'm in excellent health and a good candidate for a long life now. He also said that ampullary tumors seldom come back after having been removed. All this was reassuring on several levels. I'm ready to do the chemo and radiation now.