“So, you’re on chemo?” “Well, yes. And…no. And…yes.”

A brief examination (you should pardon the expression) of a definitional distinction.

The question: Am I on chemo?

The answer: Yes. No. Yes. And not yet.

Medically, I’m the target not the archer, and I’d be pleased to receive any directional adjustments, but as I understand it, the distinction is this:

  • The hormone deprivation therapy that two high-tech, high-priced drugs are working to deliver unto me weakens and sometimes kills cancer cells indirectly by depriving them of the food they need to survive and thrive. That food being the male hormone called testosterone.
  • True chemotherapy is intended to kill cancer cells directly. No playing around with the cells’ nutrition. “Hi, I’m chemo, and you, Mr. Cancer Cell, are now dead.” The problem with that: It also kills perfectly healthy cells, thus the hair loss, nausea, and other harsh side effects associated with chemotherapy.

The complication for laymen and laywomen is that hormone deprivation therapy is delivered by…chemicals. Powerful chemicals that I seem to be receiving by the vat-load and that carry their own delightful side effects.

So, it is therapy via chemicals and yet, technically, not considered chemotherapy. (If and when the hormone deprivation stuff stops working, then I’ll graduate to the post-doctoral degree of true chemo.)

The other complication: The real heavy hormone-deprivation artillery – that high-priced drug called Erleada – arrived the other day in something just short of a lead box. As you can see above, the outer box – shipped overnight with first early-morning delivery – was marked with attention-getting labels. And the inner envelope was marked “Chemotherapy Drugs.”

The only thing missing was:

So, one can appreciate that the definitional distinction here is, indeed, pretty slim.

Which I may or may not become myself. Thin, that is.

Hormone deprivation drug No. 1 – Firmagon – tends to add weight to the patient. (When this round started, I just had managed to shed that weight from an earlier version of Firmagon, but…enough of that.)

Hormone derivation drug No. 2 – Erleada – tends to suppress hunger and cause weight loss.

“So, the stage is set, ladies and gentlemen, for a heavyweight-lightweight battle of the drugs. At the moment, Drug No. 1 has a slight lead. But Drug No. 2 is known to make strong comebacks.

“Stay tuned! More details as they become available. And, of course, we’ll have all the latest news. Tonight! At 11!”

3 thoughts on ““So, you’re on chemo?” “Well, yes. And…no. And…yes.”

  1. Forgotten the names of the good/bad drugs already. Not forgotten the small battle within the big battle within the war.


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