Chemo Cycle 5

I had a lovely time at home and my first “commute” and 2-night stay in Brisbane went really well too. Thank you to the drug company for my fare assistance. This is going to be a truly healing time.

The oncology ward was busier than ever
this Wednesday, with attendance also by Thursday regulars unable to
be treated on the Australia Day public holiday today. A couple of
watchers with clipboards added to the crowd. I gather they were
timing procedures and flow as part of planning a new oncology centre
for the Mater.

Yesterday my blood count was in the
safe range so I had chemotherapy (plus the trial drug). Yay! I do
love feeling completely well on the days they don’t poison me, but I
tend to worry a little when a delay means I’m not following the
plan. I’m also really glad to be at the point where I can say my
next chemo will be my last. The treatment involves 6 cycles
and I’ve now completed 5.

I know a patient who actually didn’t
want to stop having chemo, despite suffering very unpleasant side
effects (which I am fortunately mostly spared). She looks at it as 2
really good weeks in each 3-week cycle, and a holiday from the worry
of cancer growing again. She begged the oncologists to continue her
chemo, but it doesn’t work like that. It is truly a poisoning, as
strong as we can take it, to destroy all fast-growing cells. The
target, of course, is the rapidly invading cancer, but this benefit
comes at the expense of healthy cells such as hair, bone marrow and
blood. Six cycles is most effective, and then we patients seriously
need time to recover from the damage.

It’s interesting to hear other
patients’ stories. One remarkable woman at the end of her chemo
treatment still has a beautiful full head of hair! She says it is
thinner than before, but normal hair for her is extremely thick and
strong and the baldies she meets at the hospital reckon her genes
should be cloned.

I met a patient who had had a huge
tumour on her ovary that was missed by her GP at first. It’s
incredible, but a mass of 30cm in diameter didn’t show up in the
ultrasound scan! She had consulted her doctor about unexplained
weight gain and abdominal pain. She was dismissed with advice to diet
and exercise. Some months later she sought medical help again and
this time was given the blood test (her CA125 was in the hundreds)
and a CT scan that revealed the problem. I hope she doesn’t mind me
discussing it here. Of course, I mean it as a cautionary tale and I
urge you to not let any doctor trivialize your concerns. Seek a
second opinion; ask for tests. You know your body best and can say
when something feels not right.

Here are the most common symptoms and warning signs for Ovarian Cancer.

Ovarian cancer is not common, and I think I’m personally responsible for scaring thousands of people, according to the number of hits on this blog. Among my friends I even know at least one man has consequently asked his doctor about his growing belly. He was reassured, of course, and this is what I really want – to help spread peace of mind.

And once again I must thank the team at Alice Street Medical Centre n Atherton and their Dr Sarah Luthy who took me very seriously 2 years’ ago, and handled my diagnosis brilliantly and rapidly without scaring me. Dr Tony McLellan has given me ongoing information and support that has been vital to my well being. Thank you. City hospitals encounter the full range of country doctors and I’m happy to say they couldn’t fault mine, and neither can I.

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