Starting chemo

I'm so sorry about my lack of blogging over the last 3 weeks, leaving you wondering what's happening. Thanks to you all for so many messages of support and encouragement. I really love hearing from you and you are a great source of strength and comfort to me!

Here's an update.

A week after my doctor told me the results of my scans, I returned to see her again with more questions. This really helped me come to terms with my situation. I highly recommend this to anyone facing serious illness, make 2 appointments a week apart if possible because inevitably there are more unknowns which surface when talking it all over with the family.

I am satisfied that chemotherapy is the best option for me at this time, with the best chance of knocking back the cancer. It's a 60-80% chance of shrinking the tumours. Of course with my track record I think I'm their star patient so I've been hoping for the 80% end of the scale 🙂 We discussed other options but they all have significant disadvantages.

I will have 6x 3-week cycles. Each cycle involves intravenous cytotoxins on Day 1 and Day 8 (nothing in the third week). Nerve damage is not expected and quite likely I won't lose my hair with this drug combo, or only some thinning.

We searched for clinical trials but unfortunately there are none suitable for me at the moment which is disappointing because you know I love to participate in the latest research and I feel it really helped me to be in the immune therapy trial last time.

I have started chemo already with Day 1 on 18th March, and it was ok. My hand and wrist were very painful when the gemcitabine started to go in, but when I spoke up, the nurses brought heat packs and adjusted the drip (slower). This made all the difference and now we know what to do in future. I didn't feel a thing with the carboplatin, although I gather this is the drug that causes the misery with side effects later in the week.

I found Days 1, 2 and 3 were ok thanks to the take-home pack of party drugs, then on days 4 and 5 I had some nausea, tiredness and headaches, but I was much better by days 6 and 7. Looking back on it, I think just 2 rough days out of the week is not too terrible. Actually my bad days weren't too bad, as I didn't even lose my appetite. I have kept up walking every day and drinking lots of water.

Before I started chemo, my aches and pains in the belly worsened, perhaps as a consequence of all the poking at my first appointment. Everyone had a go – oncologist, registrar and a student! However, just one dose of chemo seems to have made an immediate improvement, so I'm enjoying the thought that the tumours are poisoned already.

When I returned for my second dose on Day 8, I was informed that my neutrophils (white blood cells) were too low and I was sent away for another recovery week. Then the next week (yesterday) my platelets were too low, so again my chemo has been delayed. The doctors said the reason might be just the initial shock to my bone marrow and it may yet adjust to what is required and replenish my blood more quickly from now on. Clearly I'm very sensitive to these drugs and that's not surprising as I've had so much of them before. I'm waiting to hear if a reduced dose is recommended.

I really hope to be back on track with my treatment next week but I've learned to be quite good at taking each day as it comes. What else can I do but enjoy the "holiday"?

3 thoughts on “Starting chemo”

  1. Hi Ali, sorry to hear you cannot take all the treatment at the moment. Here's hoping things get better. We are suffering high pollution at present – from the Sahara! For those of us with Asthma this mean sore throat, cough and itchy eyes – just like a bad of hay fever. We are off to London late next week to see Mark (younger son) run the London marathon. He' done it several times before, a glutton for punishment. We both send our love, prayers and are thinking of you ane

  2. Alison, you are a wonder and a marvel. I hope these are only temporary setbacks and it will all go smoothly from now on. I honour the medical profession, nurses and doctors and physios and others for their dedication and devotion to helping and healing people and they should get more accolades. Keep your spirits up, you are getting the best treatment from the best people. Love and best wishes to you and your family.

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