Well, 6 days into the new cycle, and I’m only really just finding the time and energy to blog about it. It’s been a bit of a “ton of bricks” week – have been feeling really tired and low on energy – as well as combating the nausea and cold sensitive arm pain that comes with the first half of each cycle.
Fortunately, I did see this coming somewhat, and had arranged with work to NOT come in for the main chemo week. This left me free to rest in the house, having plenty to time to sort out my various pills and lotions to combat the side effects, and mainly to rest. Physical execution is one of the things that heightens the nausea, and being able to climb under the duvet when the proverbial ton of bricks smashes you around the head is a godsend.
This week has been harder than last cycle – perhaps I am feeling more dread and less curiosity going into it, knowing what to expect this time. Also the Monday itself was particularly hard work. I met my parents in town first of all, which was very nice, and they came to the clinic with me. I was due to start on a new drug called Cetuximab which is an antibody drug that helps block potential new cancer cells, as well as potentially helping the main chemotherapy drugs working. But this needed to be administered slowly for this first time, and they needed to check my blood first to be sure I would not react to it. All in all, this took about 2 hours to prepare for and another 2 hours to administer – after which I then had to go through my 2 hours of dreaded Oxalyplatin as well 😦
I went in at 1pm, and didn’t leave until just before 8pm, spending the last 2 hours in a fairly empty clinic feeling pretty sorry for myself; the Oxalyplatin felt cold, and I wrapped my jumper around my arm, but still it felt icy and painful. Outside, I realised I hadn’t bought warm enough clothing, and held my arm to try and keep it as warm as possible whislt travelling home. Whilst the pain subsides after about 7 days, and is only really present when my arm gets a little cold or I use it in a certain way, I can still feel it’s effects all the way through 3 weeks. Hence this Monday’s injection went in the other arm – suspect we’ll be swapping everytime.
As for which arm gets the Cetuximab in future, I don’t know – this drug comes on a TWO weekly cycle, so I’ll be heading back to the clinic a week from now for Cetux, two weeks for Oxy, three weeks for Cetux then in five weeks from now – both again. All in all, the 6 remaining trips to the clinic have become more like 12 more, which is depressing. That said, the Cetux infusions are probably not going to be as bad – they should only last around 1 hour in future, and the side effects are nowhere near as bad as Oxalyplatin so far. It has caused my face to redden, with a few spots starting to appear – I am on a monster load of Oxytetracyclene to try and stop me impersonating a 16-year old acne faced kid (again). It has also caused my eyelashes to grow, which was long overdue comic relief to this whole process !
Last cycle was probably a bit too “ah, it’s fine”, and might of given the impression that I’m going to soldier through this without anyone really noticing. The truth is, I am going to soldier through this, but it’s going to get hard at times, and it’s going to be a while until it’s over. And I’m going to be a bit of a pain, demand extra attention, time and help where people can offer it, and probably keep talking about my horrid drugs, waving pill boxes in the air in anger and occasionally showing off my cool (and still very present) belly scar. And I thank everyone who listens, helps and has time for that, as it all helps me just do what I need to do, which is just keep going through this one day at a time. The hardest week of cycle #2 is over – in fact apart from the injection days, every day does get a bit easier than the last !
Next big date is 20th November, when I get some more scans done, and we see what the effect of all these drugs has been. Then we can start talking about how long the chemo will go on for and potential surgery options in the new year. Until then, I’ll just keep taking the pills !