Friday, 15 February 2008

Chemo day

Friday is Lymphoma day apparently. At the Eden unit, at Wexham park hospital, where I'm going, the Lymphoma chemo is given on fridays.
So, I turned up, had a good long chat to the consultant, where he went into the intimate detail that I wanted. I wanted to know what each of the chemo agents were, how they worked on a cellular level (I'm just a bit of a propeller head), what the side effects were short term and long term, especially for any alkylating agents used (ones that smash DNA about and can lead to secondary cancers in later life). It was a good session and one that let me see that my consultant knew what he was talking about and gave me a good level of trust in him. His name is Simon Moule and so far I rate the guy!
So, I was taken back into the ward, given a big fat arm chair to sit in. My arm was heated up, using a wheat filled head sleeve. This was to make sure all the veins are nice and dilated. Then a line was put into my hand and a saline flow attached. After this the first of the bad boys was brought out. Doxorubicin, a red coloured liquid, arriving in two syringes (that can cause heart damage, nice). My nurse, Becky, took it real slow, making sure that there was no pain and that the drug fed into the vein okay and there was no leakage, as apparently even though they pour this stuff in your vein, if you get it on your skin it can do so much damage that plastic surgery is required. Crazy!
Anyway, after one syringe of the lovely stuff had gone in, they didn't like the look of the line and put another one in on the other hand (and apologised profusely as they did). So, in goes syringe 2 and all was fine.
Some lunch then arrived, which I snacked on whilst the Vincristine (sounds like a dutch monk to me) fed in. This sucker can cause nerve damage, which you notice initially as tingling/pins and needles in your fingers and toes. In it went anyway.
Then, finally, the one I wanted the least, the Cyclophosphamide, was plugged into the drip. This is the monkey that can cause secondary cancers later on. Didn't like that much, but I need it now to kick some Lymphoma ass, so that'll have to do.
So, the drugs were in, which took a couple of hours and then I was waiting around for about 4 more. I had signed up to a clinical trial of CHOP14 V CHOP21 and needed to know which group I would be in (ended up in the control group, CHOP21, boo!) and then needed to wait for my medications to be prepared.
I ended up leaving with a big ol' carrier bag full of meds. I'm normally the sort of person who won't even take a pain killer for a headache unless it is really bad and now here I am with a handful of drugs to take each morning. Still, most of them are protective, e.g. anti-sickness, anti-viral, stomach acid reducing (to protect against the steroids, etc) and also one to help mop up all the dead Lymhoma crap that should start being shed as the drugs do their thing. So, all in all, it went pretty well. I left the ward feeling a bit tired and just wanted to get home, but felt that things were moving forward.

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