There have been so many thoughts swirling around in my head this week that I’ve had a hard time coming up with a blog entry. I can’t seem to focus on any one thing so today is a conglomeration of the beginning of our trip through chemo. And it is a trip. This road show will be bouncing around the county from now until we’re done.
SIDEBAR: Another little piece of INFORMATION FOR CANCER NEWBIES: This is a travel team. There are numerous doctor appointments, lab tests, pharmacy runs and miscellany that come up every week. Plan to put some mileage on the family transport!
To recap last week, Steven had a doctor’s visit with our family doctor on Monday. Ironically, that had nothing to do with the Lymphoma. It was a rescheduled visit to complete his yearly “wellness” exam for my company’s insurance program. The irony comes with all the standard test results. Steven’s blood pressure is great and on the low side. His cholesterol is is perfect, pulse perfect, and the only obvious deficiency in his blood tests showed that he’s low on Vitamin D2 and needs to take a supplement. He’s in perfect shape…except for the CANCER! How does that even happen?
Tuesday was an extended visit with Dr. Sprawls who reported that the biopsies showed that Steven’s flavor of Lymphoma was still the Follicular variety, it just changed from slow growing to fast growing. There’s more to it than that, but we have followed the studies on all this enough to know that this is better than what it could be and the treatments have been WAY improved than the way it was 10 years ago. Steven’s original chemo cocktail was CHOPs + Rituxan, which kills the cancer and everything else in it’s path. It’s the Clorox bleach of chemotherapy and it’s after effects are similar. It breaks down everything and washes it away. Unfortunately in addition to the cancer cells, it includes nerve endings, memory cells, hair follicles, taste buds, muscle memory and a plethora of other bodily functions that are really necessary for everyday life. So the doc’s game plan for Rituxan + Bendamustine was a relief. This cocktail is more like Shout than Clorox. It gets the stain out without whitewashing the surrounding material.
Dr. Sprawls wanted to get Steven started right away, but that insurance thing always factors into to every time line. The doc would have sent Steven to the Chemo room right away if he didn’t need pre-approval from the insurance ogres. So instead, we were going to wait a day to get the Blue Cross ducks in a row and Chemo was scheduled to begin on Thursday…and Friday. That was a little different. But it brings us back to Rules for Newbies in the last post. Just because the specialist says it’s going to go fast, do the healthcare math and add the extra hours…or days. Steven was in treatment for 4-1/2 hours on Thursday and 6 hours on Friday.
He feels like crap today, but he’s been feeling that way for weeks so I can’t really blame the Chemo. In a few minutes we’re heading up to the one Space Coast Cancer Center that is open on weekends. Steven needs a shot of Neulasta to counter balance the chemo drugs. And the time frame for the injection is very specific so it looks like a Sunday family outing for us!
(Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim) is a prescription medication used to reduce the risk of infection (initially marked by fever) in patients with some tumors receiving strong chemotherapy that decreases the number of infection-fighting white blood cells.)
So that’s our first week. We made it through round 1. Nobody puked, nobody cried, nobody lost any hair. This was a good week!
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