Cisplatin

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

34-Calm before the storm

8 May 2022

It’s been a relatively hectic couple of weeks, and I’d been getting around to updating my blog, but well, I’ve been too busy enjoying myself.

We recently had a meetup of four generations of the Garber clan, from baby Miller (10 months) to Great Grams at four-score and and bit more 😉

Also, if I wasn’t feeling ill enough – I had the urge to go see a match at Old Trafford and my beloved team of mis-fits – Manchester United.

Brother Mike managed to get 3 tickets, so me, he and my lad Alex had a splendid boys-day (and night) of beers, burgers, footy and then more beers!

And this is because a couple of weeks ago I received my latest CT scan results, which like the curate’s egg, is partly okay and the other bit not so.

The good bit is Tom, Dick and Harry are just about still behaving themselves, in that since they had that good zapping with radiotherapy back in December – they’re still not yet back to their pre-treatment sizes.

The not so good is because the scan report states ‘there are multiple tiny nodules in the left lung which are suspicious’. Typical understatement – really meaning that it’s looking like the beginnings of spread to my other lung.

So that also meant re-discussing my treatment plans and a big decision that went with it.

In my last blog post, I was trying to choose between entering a trial program with some shiny new drugs to test on me (and others), or immunotherapy under the care of Dr Wozzer at my local oncology unit in Cheltenham.

But now, considering what appears to be the onset of further spread, chemotherapy will be the first-line drugs treatment. This in itself isn’t straightforward for me, because the ‘go-to’ treatment would have been Cisplatin, but there were (and still are) concerns that my kidneys would be damaged by that treatment.

So, quite fittingly for Wozzer– I’m having a cocktail of two chemo drugs: Carboplatin, which is less toxic than Cisplatin, hopefully with reduced side-effects and Fluorouracil (5-FU), which I think is going to do most of the heavy lifting in attacking the cancer cells.

If we remember back to a previous post when I touched on how cancer cells uncontrollably divide and create serious problems in the body, well, chemotherapy disrupts this cell-division and generally shrinks tumours or at least slows down their development.

Unfortunately, chemo drugs in general can’t just target cancerous cells. Other fast-dividing cells in the body, such as hair follicle cells (leading to hair thinning or loss), cells that line our stomach and bowels; (leading to sickness and diarrhoea); or blood cells (leading to tiredness and bleeding from almost anywhere) are also attacked by chemotherapy – so this is what causes the well-known side-effects that we see or hear about.

Of course, there’s a long, long list of side-effects and it appears that every single patient reacts differently. But it seems for my case that the three listed are the main ones to watch.

How they get the chemo drugs into me and for how long I’ll be on chemo? Well, that’s a longish answer and worthy of its own blog post.

Which is my way of saying I’ll do my best to write that up in a day or so! Until then, I’ll keep on with the beerotherapy 😊