…Go – DVD therapy begins! Week one

So after months of talking about this I’m off. I started my chemotherapy yesterday and am on Darathumabib, Velcade and Dexamethasone as my main treatment with a bit of zometa and a nice little selection pack of other drugs from the sweetie shop!

Still working!

Darathumabib infusion

Just a few of the additional drugs!

But the good news is that I haven’t suffered from any of the side effects I’d been warned of. I’ve got the dry mouth from the dex that I got last time round, but none of those from the cytokine release syndrome. That’s great news as it means that

1. I feel good (!) and can even do a bit of work when the WiFi works

2. I won’t need someone with me in the hospital when I come back every week

3. Hopefully the kids will get to enjoy some of the summer!

Now it’s still early days and there is a strong chance that symptoms may build up as chemo in my body builds up its residue (does that even make sense?). I’m also being given zometa again and that has always given me a fluey feeling a few days later – it’s also the drug we were convinced made me more susceptible to broken bones but maybe since I’ve had to give up sport for now it won’t be a killer.

So now it’s about keeping well. If you’re local and visit, Nick and I would like to remind everyone that I need to avoid anyone with any form of illness however minor it might seem to you. I’d much rather you asked me and we had to cancel plans, than you waited till we’d said hello, had a hug and then you tell me and I come down with something. The reality, as harsh as it sounds, is that any illness you have, I could have exacerbated, lasting longer and even hospitalising me.

I’ve got my first complication already as my dad had a nasty fall last week and has been admitted for a broken thigh bone. I got to see him on Sunday when he first went in but he was high as a kite and asleep on morphine. I really want to go back after his op tomorrow but will have to see how I am and will have to wear a mask. It’s the only exception to the rule that I will make – so relieved that he has got through the implications of the fall and just wishing him tonnes of love for the operation which is pretty major for an 87 year old. I just need to see him again now.

Cycle 8: May blood test results – Cancer levels increased again

I’m late updating my May blood test results. My cancer levels increased again from 3 in April to between 3 and 4 this month. However, all good, I’m happy chemo is over for now. I saw my Myeloma Specialist and when the time is right I’ll have IV chemo treatment again. I’m focused on enjoying a break from treatment, whether long or short.

Ready for summertime!

M protein (g/L) (if 0, then no cancer detected)
May = between 3 and 4
Apr = 3
Mar = between 1 and 2
Feb = 3
Jan = between 5 and 6
Dec = between 5 and 6
Nov = 11
Late Oct = 27 (started chemo)
Early Oct = 48

Self-portrait – Taking time to be.

As I was practicing taking different poses with various camera settings, someone called out to me, that I’d seen about 30 min earlier. He asked why I was at that particular spot and whether there was something special about it.

You see, I was sitting at Queen Elizabeth Park on a mount of grass surrounded by daisies taking self-portraits. Queen Elizabeth is one of the most beautiful parks in Canada with gorgeous gardens where people admire roses and other exquisite flowers.
I guess he figured there must have been something unique or important about the daisies or I wouldn’t have been taking pictures with them.

I told him, I simply got off the bus and this was where I decided to stop. It wasn’t the meaningful answer he may have been looking for, I could tell by the perplexed look on his face, but that’s exactly what happened.

But after I’ve had some time to think, I realize I could have added more.

I stopped there, because I saw life and felt happy as I watched the daisies blowing in the wind.

I stopped there, because I felt alive as I thought about how I made it through 7 months of chemo unscathed without permanent damage to my body.

I stopped there, because I felt at peace, stronger, more self-confident and ready for the next challenge.

I stopped there, because I felt inspired, to pause, and reflect on how fortunate I am to live a life where I have time to be.

Cycle 8: May blood test results - Cancer levels have increased

I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable.

From mid-October to late-May, I was treated with Kyprolis (carfilzomib), an IV chemo, Cyclophosphamide, and dexamethasone.

End of the day on Granville IslandMay 2014: Granville Island

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Cycle 7: April blood test results – Cancer levels increased

Apologies for being late sharing my April blood test results. Unfortunately my cancer levels increased a bit. Not freaked out. This chemo has been a rockstar fighting my cancer since October, so no complaints here. I’ve done very well since then as I started pretty high (48) and now I’m in single digits (3).

I believe that May will be a good month. Can’t wait to see my next month’s results. In my final cycle of treatment (Cycle 8). So happy!

M protein (g/L) (if 0, then no cancer detected)
Apr = 3
Mar = between 1 and 2
Feb = 3
Jan = between 5 and 6
Dec = between 5 and 6
Nov = 11
Late Oct = 27 (started chemo)
Early Oct = 48

Self-portrait – Happiness is…eating a fresh mango tart
Today when I was shopping at the T&T Supermarket, I passed by the dessert section and a mango tart starting calling my name. I decided to treat myself as I love mangoes.

Cycle 7: April blood test results - Cancer levels have increased


I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable.

Since mid-October, I’m being treated with Kyprolis (carfilzomib), an IV chemo, Cyclophosphamide, and dexamethasone.

Steveston - Canada GeeseMay 2014 – Steveston – Canada Geese

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Cycle 6: March blood test results – Cancer levels dropped again

Good News!

My March blood test results show that my cancer levels dropped. They are now between 1 and down down from 3 in February.

This chemo continues to slay my cancer.

Fatigue makes thinking and doing challenging, but I’m going to find a low-key way to celebrate the good news.

M protein (g/L) (if 0, then no cancer detected)
Mar = between 1 and 2
Feb = 3
Jan = between 5 and 6
Dec = between 5 and 6
Nov = 11
Late Oct = 27 (began chemo)
Early Oct = 48

Self-portrait – Want to sleep, but too early for bed
I’m late updating everyone with my March blood test results. Chemo side effects like chemo fog and fatigue have been rough and I haven’t had the mental and physical energy for the complete process of taking a creative self-portrait (thinking, doing, editing, posting).

Last Thursday, when I took this photo, was a chemo day, then I did laundry, and made lunch. I felt drained, I just wanted to shut down and go to bed, but it was too early. So I just put my head down at my desk and had a little nap. Just one of the little quirks that is a part of my life.

Cycle 6: March blood test results - Cancer levels dropped again


I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable.

Since mid-October, I’m being treated with Kyprolis (carfilzomib), an IV chemo, Cyclophosphamide, and dexamethasone.

English Bay - VancouverJune 2014: English Bay

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Cycle 5: Feb blood test results – Cancer levels dropped

Good News!

My February blood test results show that my cancer levels dropped. They are now 3 down from between 5 and 6 in January.

I’m super happy my numbers are back on track. Feeling optimistic about March.

M protein (g/L) (if 0, then no cancer detected)
Feb = 3
Jan = between 5 and 6
Dec = between 5 and 6
Nov = 11
Late Oct = 27
Early Oct = 48

Cycle 5: Feb blood test results - Cancer levels dropped

Weekly chemo-inspired self-portraits can be viewed in my flickr album.

I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable.

Since mid-October, I’m being treated with Kyprolis (carfilzomib), an IV chemo, Cyclophosphamide, and dexamethasone.

Lonsdale Quay Market - North VancouverMay 2014: Lonsdale Quay – North Vancouver

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Oakland Noir

Oakland Noir

Three of the last five years, my wife and I have Christmased in the San Francisco Bay Area. We visit our son, my brother, and a niece. Our routine is similar: movies every night and dinners at an eclectic collection of restaurants.

We choose to stay in Oakland near the Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART. Our hotel is close to the 12th Street station. No driving for us. The trains are gritty but reliable most days. If we can’t walk or BART to our destination, Uber/Lyft is an efficient alternative.

Chinatown intersection close to our hotel in Oakland.

Over the course of five days and four nights we saw Roma, Shoplifters, The Favourite, and Vice. Dinners afterwards were Sushi, a Southern Louisiana Kitchen, Hunan Cuisine, and Thai food. One morning, we had a late breakfast at a Mexican restaurant, Doña Tomás, and on another we feasted at the renowned Oakland Grill. Christmas Day we crossed the Bay Bridge to join my brother at San Francisco’s Yank Sing for a Dim Sum brunch.

In between movies and meals, we walked Oakland’s neighborhoods from the warehouse district through Chinatown to Lake Merritt. The ambience is blue collar. The city’s work ethic still breathes here. 

Mural at the world renowned Oakland Grill

Our preference for the east side of the bay evolved over time. San Francisco, my hometown no less, has lost its cool. The tech tsunami floods the city in money. Unless you are “grandfathered” into a rent controlled apartment, who can afford to live there? Housing costs in the city exclude the service class, the middle class, and the upper middle class. Buying a house? If you have to ask the price, well …

Mural in Oakland. The city’s wall art is remarkable.

Finally, though, it was the dystopia of the homeless on Market Street that pushed us away. No one seems able to imagine a solution. Locals wear blinders of resignation. Tourists, like us, gawk at the scrabble of destitute individuals. Last year, we side-stepped the feces, the urine, and the trash from a warren of panhandlers. Who, I wondered, is happy with this environment? 

Oakland street scene looking west from Broadway.

Co-incident with our most recent visit, the funding debate for “Trump’s Wall” reached an impasse and a portion of the federal government shut down. Thirty four days later, thousands of employees remain furloughed or working without pay. Seeds for a resolution have been planted. Yet, there’s little hope for germination.

The Bay Area’s high cost of living makes this shutdown a particularly onerous burden to bear. Many people harbor legitimate fears of being one crisis away from the street. And, should the shutdown continue, this may be that crisis.

Grand Lake Theater in Oakland

Congress passed a bill to reimburse government workers when the shutdown ends. Eventually, that should soften the blow of the president’s temper tantrum. Others, however, affected by the trickle down effects of the temporarily unemployed, will suffer without recompense.  

Suffering and fear and fear of more suffering seem to be defining tactics of the current administration. Family separations, Charlottesville, and Puerto Rico, come to mind. This is the style of our president, Captain Chaos. It’s a ruthless business ethic. It may play well in the world of high end New York real estate. But, probably not a good way to run a country … 

Inside the paywall of the Bart. Underground, things look clean. The elevators that get you there? Uh, not so much …

Nonetheless, we vacationed. Oakland’s version of the gentrification virus spreads. Zoning restrictions must change in order to address the housing shortage. But political will is ephemeral. Slowly, affluenza squeezes out those with modest paying jobs that once seemed adequate.

With the innocent aplomb of country bumpkins, we navigated the hassles of city life. Planes, trains, and Uber transported us through the wonders of the urban landscape. More and more, though, it resembles the prophetic sci-fi noir, Blade Runner.

The Albany Theater.

Politicians, elected to solve problems and to govern, have flipped the script. Now, they are the problem and refuse to govern. Perhaps the newly elected Congress can write another, different, screenplay in time for our next visit to the Bay Area. That’s the movie I really want to see.

Still on Darzalex

This is just a quick update.  I’m still on Darzalex, but am also taking 2 mg of Pomalyst (pom) 21 days a month.  I’m not taking dex at the moment.  I just get 20 mg of dex with each dara infusion. We’ll see how that goes. For the last 3 or 4 months, I’ve been …

Cycle 3: Dec blood test results – Cancer levels dropped again

I’m happy to announce that my Dec blood test results show a decrease in cancer levels (m protein). My cancer levels dropped from 11 (Nov results four weeks ago) to between 5 and 6 now. With my particular type of multiple myeloma, an exact m protein value isn’t always possible as it is manually calculated.

It is reassuring to know that this chemo treatment remains effective in fighting my rare cancer. My monthly blood tests continue to trend in the right direction. This is my week off from chemo (Cycle 3 Week 4) and I’ll start Cycle 4 later in the week.

M protein (g/L) (0 = no cancer detected)
Dec = between 5 and 6
Nov = 11
Late Oct = 27 (began IV chemo – Kyprolis)
Early Oct = 48
Sept = 41
Aug = between 37 and 38
July = between 31 and 32

Cycle 3: Dec blood test results - Cancer levels dropped again
Photo: Treating myself to a fruit tart. So yummy!

Weekly chemo-inspired self-portraits can be viewed in my flickr album.

I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable.

Since mid-October, I’m being treated with Kyprolis (carfilzomib), an IV chemo, Cyclophosphamide, and dexamethasone.

End of the day on Granville IslandMay 2014: Granville Island Sunset

The post Cycle 3: Dec blood test results – Cancer levels dropped again appeared first on Fade to Play.

Cycle 2: Nov blood test results – Cancer levels dropped again

I’m happy to announce that my Nov blood test results show my cancer levels (m protein) have decreased from 27 four weeks ago (Late Oct results) to 11 now (Nov results). This is pretty cool and means that my chemo is still effective in fighting my cancer.

I’m really excited to see what this month’s results will be like. Over the last week I’m also pleased to share that I haven’t felt as fatigued nor has my stomach felt bloated (caused by dexamethasone), which is a common issue.

My Port is working great with my IV chemo and I haven’t had any adversity. After a week off from chemo (Cycle 2 Week 4), I’ll start Cycle 3 later in the week.

M protein (g/L) (0 = no cancer detected)
Nov = 11
Late Oct = 27 (1st test after started Kyprolis IV chemo)
Early Oct = 48
Sept = 41
Aug = between 37 and 38
July = between 31 and 32
June = 25

Trending in the right direction!

Cycle 2: Nov blood test results - Cancer levels dropped again

Photo: My body temperature is lower due to long term chemo treatment, so I’m always feeling cold. Thankfully there is a heater in my room to keep me warm.

Weekly chemo-inspired self-portraits can be viewed in my flickr album.

I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable.

Since mid-October, I’m being treated with Kyprolis (carfilzomib), an IV chemo, Cyclophosphamide, and dexamethasone.

Vanier Park @ Kitsilano - Vancouver, BC

The post Cycle 2: Nov blood test results – Cancer levels dropped again appeared first on Fade to Play.

Cycle 1: Port operation was a success!

Cycle 1: Port operation was a success!

I’m so happy that my Port operation was a success.

To recap: Monday morning I went to Radiology at VGH for my Port (IVAD – Implanted Venous Access Device) operation. It was needed as my veins are damaged due to long-term chemo treatment, making it extremely difficult to find and access a healthy vein for an IV. At Radiology I met an IV Specialist that used an ultrasound machine to find a good vein in my arm for an IV. The IV was necessary as I would be sedated to help block pain, make me calm, and sleepy and to provide antibiotics during the procedure. I also received freezing to the areas with a needle.

I slept through most of the operation, although I awoke whenever breathing exercises were requested by the Vascular Surgeon (breathe in, hold, breathe out). My blood pressure was monitored the entire time. The Port was placed beneath my skin, on the left side of my chest, and an attached catheter was inserted into a large vein. It involved 2 incisions – one in my neck, one in my chest. Afterwards I had a chest x-ray to confirm the Port was in the right spot.

The end result is that my bloodstream can now be accessed for IVs or blood tests with a special needle into the Port. I spent the next couple of hours being observed and my blood pressure was checked a few times.

Monday I was pretty sore and my neck was a bit stiff, however I felt better yesterday and I’m doing much better today. On Tuesday, I went back to VGH to get my dressing changed and the area cleaned, and to make sure that everything looked ok. Then yesterday my dressing was taken off. I will get the surgical tape (called Steri-Strip) used to close the incisions, removed next week when I begin my next Cycle of Kyprolis (carfilzomib), which is IV chemo.

I need to take it easy for a couple weeks to let everything heal. I should avoid lifting my right arm above my head or carrying anything over my shoulder. Glad everything worked out. Feeling happy.


I have Multiple Myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable.

Since October 10th, I’m being treated with Kyprolis (carfilzomib), an IV chemo, Cyclophosphamide, and dexamethasone.

Rice Lake - North VancouverRice Lake – North Vancouver

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