I've passed the halfway point for my chemo – 3 cycles down and 3 to go.
My blood results were fine yesterday so I started Cycle 4.
Best of all, I've had good results from my scan 2 weeks' ago. Overall the tumours have already shrunk by 26% which is a significant response and shows they are still platinum-sensitive. I'm very happy about this because there is evidence that platinum-based drugs are the most effective treatment available for ovarian cancer. Eventually platinum-resistance can build up but I'm not there yet!
Ok that was the good news, but here is a little worry – I seem to be making heavy weather of the chemo this time. In Week 2 Cycle 3 I felt sick with diarrhoea. On the third day I rang the chemo nurses who suggested gastrostop, and that worked brilliantly. I wished I had thought of it sooner! I recovered my energy quickly and had a great third week. Now with my new friend, gastrostop, I'm feeling confident for whatever is ahead.
Remember my cycles go like this:
Week 1 – double-whammy (carboplatin + gemcitabine)
Week 2 – just 1 drug (gemcitabine)
Week 3 – holiday
So I blamed gem for my illness in Week 2, but the doctor said carbo would be the culprit and typically takes 10 days to really cause trouble.
Then yesterday I had a bad reaction part-way through the carbo infusion. It was weird. It began with a little minor symptom of itchy palms. The nurse noticed me scratching and raised the alarm, to my surprise. More nurses and a doctor hurried to my side, turned off the carbo drip and administered phanergan (anti-histamine remedy). By then I was feeling hot and quite ill, had itchy feet (soles) and neck and an irritated throat. The nurses told me that if they hadn't caught the problem early, my throat woud have swollen next and they would have had to give me oxygen! The phanergan knocked me out and I slept for hours. When woken for blood pressure etc, I was really groggy and slurred my words.
After half an hour they continued the carbo successfully with a very slow drip. Next time I have carboplatin they will proceed cautiously. First up I will have the medicines for controlling side effects instead of taking them concurrently with the carbo. Perhaps they will slow down the carbo drip too.
After rejoicing that the cancer is not platinum-resistent, I will be very disappointed if I can no longer tolerate platinum drugs. However, I'm told cisplatin is an alternative we can try. I had cisplatin in 2010 without too much difficulty and the doctor said I probably would tolerate it now.
So my adventures continue, but today the sun is shining on the beautiful treetops and I'm feeling pretty good. I am learning to pace myself and accept that I don't get much done in a day. Sometimes challenging activities seem impossible and even enjoyable ones seem difficult. (This is why my blog is still on Caring Bridge although one day I'd like to change to an easier platform.) Since my last blog entry I enjoyed some care and mothering from my Mum who came to stay. I'm very grateful to my dear family and friends for all the kindness and support I've had. Thanks to all for your good wishes too.