Shit gets real…The Pontypool Front Row?

The week of July 8 was spent in the warm and embracing care of the 5th floor Oncology staff of Sibley Memorial Hospital, Washington, DC. There was a great deal of cocktails they prepared for me to get the serious part of the chemotherapy treatment underway. Early Monday we reported to the hospital, checked into a room design type I am quite familiar with my past in hospital design/construction. The room was a true isolation room. There was an anteroom, additional hand washing stations, and the air control system that can be adjusted to have all air flow out of the room, positive pressure rooms, or have all the air flow into the room, negative pressure rooms. My concern was that this was for me if I became neutropenic, or severely suppressed auto-immune system. They quickly allayed my fears, explaining the room  just happened to be open and clean when I walked in…whew.

As I have bored you with before, the key to good chemo is lots & lots of pee. The urine system is the method the body uses to void itself of the dead cells created by the chemo effects. Chemo kills fast growing cells, hair follicles, skin cells, gum & mouth tissue, and of course the pièce de résistance…fucking cancer cells. In order to get the urine system warmed up and ready to go the distance, they set me up with a cute little pump/solution setup with lots of 5% saline, and other flowmax type medicines. I thought, this is not so bad, I will miss the first week of the Tour de France, but no biggie. Bring it on bitches!!!

3 bag hung

What I wasn’t aware of, this was like pushing the scrum sled around the practice pitch with no other players standing on the weight side, no cinder or concrete blocks on the imaginary opposing scrum side, basically, no more resistance than pushing a lawnmower. The oncology pharmacists in the bowels of the hospital had much more going on than I realized. When I first came in the staff took blood, urine, & weighed me. That data was being used to calculate the firepower the oncologists & pharmacists would bring to bear. We had no idea what was coming…but coming it was.

I need to preface this reveal of firepower with a story, when the Butcher of Uganda, Idi Amin, snatched hostages in 1976, they claimed the Israeli Special Forces went in to rescue, not true, Fake News. When soccer fans overran the trains, riots shook the entirety of the British Isles. When the Queen was asked to restore calm, she knew whom to call, she called the guys that had come to help me beat cancer. In order to compare them to Seal Team 6, they would have to be called Seal Team 87. These are the guys you want in your scrum to fight cancer. When they rolled this pump & chemo solutions into the room, named Graham, Bobby, & Charlie, I knew the our saviors had arrived, Peggy & I wept. A heroic, deep, dark, part of the history of Welsh Rugby…none other than the


Had come to help us. This is a mythical group of Welsh Rugby front row players best romanticized by Max Boyce, and forever memorialized on YouTube.

Pontypool Front Row42899Friday, after 72 hours of continuous chemo drip from the Pontypool Front Row, they let me go home, 4 nights and 5 days of getting worked over by my heroes. I was wiped out…sore, exhausted, nauseous, thirsty, remarkably similar to that feeling after a great rugby game and even greater rugby party. (Have I mentioned my greatest claim of fame in rugby…”while I did not win every game I played, I NEVER lost a party.”)

The week after an intense in-patient chemo session should not be wished upon anyone. Weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, anemia, headaches, insomnia, nausea, are the symptoms that I can recall, in the fog I know there were many others, they just don’t come to mind. Think of the worst intestinal and respiratory influenza you have ever had, and raise it to an exponent of 3, not 3 times, to the power of 3!!! We talking some sick shit-ness friends & fans.

The good news, ahem, is that there are 3 more sessions in my future. There is a limit to the amount of the “Red Death”, or doxorubicin I can tolerate. Doxorubicin is a type of chemotherapy drug called an anthracycline. It slows or stops the growth of cancer cells by blocking an enzyme called topo-isomerase 2. Cancer cells need this enzyme to divide and grow. There are other toxic poisons in the cocktail that enters the Port-a-Cath blood stream access point under my right clavicle. The overall chemo regime I have started is called MAI. Don’t ask me to explain all the ingredients of this cocktail, as most of you know, I haven’t had a cocktail to the date of this blog authorship…in 24 years, 7 months, 26 days, (but who’s counting),…(9004 days if anyone is asking Larry & Sergei).

Long story short, the 4 MAI chemo sessions I am planned for, (with one down) are my best shot at seeing the new year…I didn’t say WHICH new year, now did I? It’s not that I will croak at the end of the 4th session, but the chances of me surviving go down dramatically with no positive results at the end of the 4 because I can take only so much of a lifetime amount of the MAI Chemo Regime.

Herein lie clues as to why I don’t post more cleverly written, borderline funny blog entries, with the finality of it all drilling deeper & deeper into my soul, it is getting harder and harder to be clever & funny. To be perfectly honest, if I can’t author clever, tongue in cheek humor, what the fuck is the point.

I love you all, thank’s for reading my shit.

12 thoughts on “Shit gets real…The Pontypool Front Row?

  1. We have not met, but my husband and I just had dinner with your brother, Kirk. He told us about your challenge and your blog. My family has some experience with the Sibley Hospital and Johns Hopkins Hospital oncology team. I do think you are in good hands and I truly wish you all the best. It is clear from reading your blog, that you have a wonderful attitude. Keep fighting!

  2. Thank you Wade for telling it like it truly is …… your an impressive writer which is no surprise as your an impressive man.
    May you have days in between all these treatments of feeling well enough to enjoy some of life’s pleasures such as a good cup of coffee or Peggy’s chicken enchiladas. Sending lots of love your way😘

  3. Sometimes the post game social were like taking the pitch for another match in a dark slippery space smelling of sweat and split beer but full of smiles and laughter. As it was back then we will always be, “With You!”

  4. Wade. When I read your posts I sense just how strong a person you are facing this beast head on. Then between the lines how hard it is to be strong when all of this is physically and mentally breaking you down. I believe it is ok to let God be your strength and carry you when you feel the weakest. It is ok to feel vulnerable and to let others be strong for you. No need to carry all of the burden on your shoulders because you don’t have to. We are all with you in thoughts and prayers sending you our strength, love and peace.

  5. Wade, I know it’s hard. Keep reporting; it’s valuable to all of us out here in the ether.

  6. you Do a great job of keeping all of us abreast of what is being done to you. I am missing what it is that you are doing for yourself. Or what it is that we can do for you

    You aren’t sure whether you will make it to Christmas. I pray and wish everyday that you make the next 20 Christmas. What if you don’t.

    There is an article in Sunday’s paper you might want to read. I will send it to you

  7. You know how to tell us what you are going through without all of the gross details. Thank you for taking the energy and time to explain the cocktail process. We are so glad you are fighting this demon with all your power and strength. It is a bitch, but we love you and are pulling for you with love and prayers.

  8. I want you to know that we are rooting for you over here in England ( and Wales) and know you are a real fighter and as they say “bring it on”. We shall be over in the fall visiting my friend Bob (Rochester NY) and driving back to Washington early October, calling in to see how you are doing.

  9. I love you Wade. Thanks for sharing and explaining all the hard to understand cocktails. Your rawness and honesty is a good reality check for what unimaginable thoughts and emotions roll through your head. It was so great to spend time with you last weekend. Till next time Godfather! You mean more than you know to me!

  10. That’s so funny it’s not to die for! Keep em coming second row. Put your head between the asses of the boys from Pontpool and push!

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