Notes From the Chemo Cafe

Today I thought I’d discuss Platelets..On my last blood work, my platelets dropped like a lead balloon . ( This is actually where Led Zeppelin got the idea for naming their group. The members of the band thought they were so terrible that they would sink like a lead balloon at their first concert)  Anyhow, platelets are small blood components that help the clotting process by sticking to the lining of blood vessels. With a low count, you risk excessive bleeding and bruising. A simple cut could bleed endlessly.  The techie name for this is thrombocytopenia.   

A healthy person usually has a platelet count of 150,000 to 400,000. You have thrombocytopenia if your number falls under 150,000.  My count was 29,000. This was of concern to my oncologist who wanted me to skip my chemo this week, but very worrisom to DR. Schmoopy who insisted I use plastic utensils in case I had an urge to cut off a finger or two…

After a couple of days, my platelets are back to normal at 171,000 and so I’m back at the Chemo Cafe. The point of todays lesson, besides allowing me to vent, is to stress the importance of donating platelets. Every 30 seconds someone in the U.S. needs platelets. And because platelets must be used within five days, new donors are needed every day.  If you are interested in donating, which is not complicated at all, you can contact:

And so, I’m back to using regular utensils to eat. Truth be told, you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten spaghetti with a spork!!!!



In the past few months, I have come to learn all about balance’. As most cancer warriors can attest to, you walk a very very fine line with regards to your own mortality.  The delicate balancing act of caustic meds, staying hydrated (the hardest for me) eating well or even eating at all which is so very hard for many must be carefully orchestrated.  A dear fellow warrior has to figure out how to get their blood work to a place that will allow them surgery. Sodium, potassium, white blood cells, red blood cells – it goes on and on. If these numbers are not perfectly in place, it could delay a surgery.  Again, a balancing act that anyone with cancer becomes fairly accustomed to though not always successfully .

I just finished my 8th round of Folfurinox.  Click on the link to learn more about this form of chemotherapy. The side effects are cumulative so as the weeks go on, my balance’ becomes harder and harder to coordinate.  I happen to have the worlds most adorable oncologist, Naim Nazha. A sweet teddy bear of a doctor who never forgets to give my cheek a squeeze when I leave the room. How this man manages to keep a cheerful demeanor all day is way beyond my comprehension. This is also a balance‘ . Seeing multiple patients in various stages of disease all day long, week after week and managing to give them a smile or a squeeze on the cheek is this doctor’s own form of balance’ . 

I’ve come to notice we all have our own method of balance‘.  Whether we are balancing our personal and business lives, our children schedules and non-stop chauffeuring, friends and family time or what should I do to today to stay hydrated and out of the ER?.   We must all figure out the best way to accomplish this while maintaining our sanity. Not an easy task by any means, but certainly doable.

If you know anyone with cancer, who may need some additional emotional support, please suggest they contact As a long time volunteer, I can attest to the fact that emotional support is the cornerstone of balance’, and that balance’ is everything.


The term balance‘ is a rocking step. The weight is shifted from one foot to the other. (ba-lahn-SAY) (en tournant).  This rocking motion is difficult to do successfully . It must be fluid and look natural or you look like a pendulum just going back and forth with no finesse.  Practice your balance’ and see how your life can take to it easily and naturally.