Tuesdays seem to be my day for appointments. Today I saw a hematologist at the cancer agency. We reviewed my story to be sure she was clear on all that has happened since January. Then went on to discuss non-hodgkins lymphoma and the fact that more analysis is required to identify the specific type as my diagnosis. This meant more blood work and a bone marrow biopsy which I will describe later. It was nice to learn that I have the most common type at the higher level which is treatable. Also good to know that each case is unique and not to listen too much to others experiences. (no internet searches please)
We discussed the chemotherapy recipe, the duration of treatment and the possibility of radiation after the 6 cycles. The doctor is hoping treatment will begin in about 2 weeks. I will receive treatment every 3 weeks for 6 cycles. So about 18 weeks which will take this into November. Also the side effects of the drugs in the recipe. The common side effects being, tired, nauseous (rare vomiting), hair loss, risk of infection and the importance of monitoring my temperature. Having a fever above 38.3C means a trip to the ER, stat! As we progress I am curious to see what my natural hair color is, I have not seen it in many years. I see fun with wigs in my future..maybe I will look good as a brunette. 😉
It was encouraging to hear how quickly the body can respond to treatment. It may be just a matter of days for the mass to begin shrinking and reduce the pressure in my chest. Hopefully then my lung will return to normal functioning.
When being registered this morning I learned that I was already a patient in their system. This was news to me, I asked if they had the correct name. Yes it was me. Apparently when I had what was labelled pre-cancerous cervical cells in 2005 my file had been forwarded to the agency. Thankfully things were resolved in 2005 and I have not thought about it since. So today I received an old number that is new to me.
My oncologist is a nice lady, very pleasant to deal with. When she described the bone marrow biopsy I laughed and said now I know why you don’t tell people about this in advance. Note – never look up a procedure out of curiosity in advance, just go with it and be brave, something to bite also helps. I consented and she proceeded to identify the best place to take the sample of bone marrow and bone, the back of the hip where the bone is nearest to the skin. The needles of freezing solution are unpleasant and I was as ready as I could be with my friend holding my hand and a tightly wound up pillowcase in the other hand. A few minutes in, breathing deeply and squeezing the pillow case hard I asked, are you finished?.. she responded, no, we are halfway. UGH! I could feel what she was doing so she gave me another needle of freezing. OUCH!! This time she hit a nerve that went down my leg and I yelped. Then she proceeded with obtaining the bone sample. By now I am breathing deeply, eyes closed and biting the pillow case! She worked hard to obtain the sample and was really pressing against my body. I was relieved when she was done. I rolled on to my back to put pressure on the area and said to the doctor, you win!, that was worse than the needle biopsy in the chest. I give my friend credit for being able to be present during this process. She said it looked like a corkscrew motion to obtain the bone sample. Yuck! This is why I always tell the doctor and nurse to talk to me about anything other than what they are doing.
Now I am back to waiting for the appointment for the next test, a PET scan and the date for my first chemotherapy treatment. The first treatment session will be 7 hours long. Yes, 7 hours! One of the drugs in the recipe can cause an allergic response and therefore must be administered slowly while the patient is closely monitored. I learn something new everyday.
As I learn more about this illness I become more comfortable with my day by day approach. This illness is only one aspect of my life. I still have a home to care for, bills to pay and a very needy cat to answer to. As well as dreams I aspire to. I love to travel and meet people. I have a list of places I have been invited to visit by friends I have met in my adventures. This list is my inspiration.
I sparkle on, one day at a time. 🙂