Chemotherapy

12-Swings and roundabouts

7th May 2020

I’m four days into my radiotherapy and 4/5 of week 1 (round 1) done. I’ve done really well. Larry the Lump hasn’t really laid a glove on me. Not feeling pain or anything.

My radiographer team ask me every day how I am – and yep I’m well upbeat. ‘That’ll change’, they say ominously – ‘but don’t worry Woz, we’ll get you through it’. That comes across 100% sincere and it’s a warm feeling. The connection is already there.

I had a blood test prior day, to check kidney function and this was discussed with me by Dr Grant.

‘Ah, it’s your kidneys Warren’ he says, looking straight at me. ‘They’re getting on a bit – nothing to worry about, they ‘re doing just enough work, but the particular chemotherapy drug we planned for you – Cisplatin, does attack the kidneys’. I understood that – doing just enough work is how I’ve got through many jobs in life!

‘Also, he continued, we’re obviously making risk assessments on all chemo patients regarding COVID-19; the age of the patient and the possibility of contracting the virus, because of lowered immunity due to chemo’.

I’d flagged that up previously as a concern of mine – the sheer irony that Covid might finish me off in the early stages of curing a tumour – because of the treatment, wasn’t something I wanted to consider – although it is of course a very real issue.

‘So on balance, we’ve decided that no chemo is the best course of action in your case.’ Dr Grant continued ‘ The chemo only ever shrinks a tumour – it’s the radiology that eradicates it – and that’s of course the plan all along’.

The old 'uns are best - background to Cisplatin cancer treatment

So it’ll move the ‘wellness slider’ a notch or two to the left, but the long term prospects (kidneys etc) around 10 notches to the right. Swings and roundabouts to a man of simple explanations such as me.

Life and death decisions that my team are making on my behalf.

As I’ve said before, I have complete faith in my doctor and his team. No argument from me, no request for a second opinion – just get on with it Doc, I’m with you 100%

So now I have a clear run at Larry – no chemo to slow me down and 5 weeks to go.

Larry landed a couple of blows of Friday 8th just as the bell was ringing for the end of round1/week 1.

That only winded me, but I felt it nonetheless. Seems to make me feel 20 years older, I’m walking at one-third pace;  eating is minimal and I could already win a sleeping-contest.

At least I have the weekend to get some strength back – bring on week 2 😊

Week 1 round-up:

Weight: 127.4kg
Appetite: 70%

Meds:
Fluoride toothpaste 5000 PPM
Mouthwash – Caphosol

27-Learning new words about Cancer

30th January 2021

As they say - 'you're never too old to learn'.

And it's true. I’ve learned a new word: Scanxiety - which describes ‘the apprehension felt by people with cancer as they wait for their next scan’.

This came about by doing too much of what I shouldn’t - which is hunting around the interweb trying to find information, about things of which only give me an incomplete picture as to what's likely to happen.

Let me back up a bit. My first full scan, post treatment was done last September – and that was a very anxious wait to find out the results.

Good and bad was the outcome of that scan. Good that the throat tumour has diminished – bad that metastatic (secondary cancer) tumours had been found in a couple of locations.

They weren’t deemed ready for treatment then, but another scan was scheduled for January 2021 to see if there’s any further development.

And there is.

No matter that I try and not worry about what I can’t influence, but waiting for that next scan and the outcome, is never ever far from my thoughts. Every day.

That is definitely Scanxiety.

And so I was ever so glad to have my January PET/CT scan and the subsequent appointment to discuss the results. The scan indicates a third tumour showing in my right lung and the original two in the same lung are still developing.

It wasn’t a great shock and I’m now back under the care of my oncologist – the excellent Dr Warren Grant. He phoned me the other day to get my thoughts and to update me on his thinking.

As ever with me, it’s not yet clear-cut. I will be starting treatment again, but right now it’s not definite when, or with what. By this I mean the choice will be either Chemotherapy or the much newer Immunotherapy treatment.

This is another new word for me. Immunotherapy ' which uses substances to stimulate my own body immune system to fight the cancer'. I suppose it's too much to wish these will be ganja-type substances, but one can hope - eh?

The decision depends partly on whether my cancer would be receptive to Immunotherapy and also on the overall effect of how my body will respond to either of the drugs.

That – and the schedule for treatment will become clearer on my next appointment with Dr Grant in mid-February.

But for now, I’ll end on a lighter note because I just received my first Covid vaccination jab. I’m in ‘group 4’ because of my condition and treatments.

No surprise that Gloucestershire NHS have it well sorted. Very quick and slick at the vaccination centre and no pain either.

Although I’m sure I heard the nurse whisper under her breath that I’d just feel a little prick.

Not a new experience for Wozzer… 😊