Monday, January 4, 2010

Taking the fight to the enemy

Life has been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride since diagnosis and the days are slipping away seemingly out of control. I have decided that I need to chronicle what is going on in my (our) life in regard to the cancer fight. Otherwise, in six months or a year when I look back, I will have no pegs on which to hang my memories of what happened - both the good and the bad.

I will write a post in a day or so about how I was diagnosed and the incredible speed with which treatment was organised. The Australian health system is often said to be in crisis, but we have had no complaints about speed or efficiency in getting treatment underway.

I began chemotherapy (Folfox 6 plus Avastin) on Tuesday December 29th - exactly a fortnight after diagnosis. I had a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line inserted into my arm, then Oxaliplatin and Leucovorin infused. This took 3 hours and was followed by the Avastin for another hour and and a half (this drug will take less time in the future). A pump was then attached to deliver Fluorouracil slowly over a 46 hour period and I went home.

Apart from getting a bit tangled up in the pump line, and some difficulty showering, no problems on Day 2.

The pump was removed on Day 3 and the PICC line covered with a dressing. We went to see the oncologist and the next two treatment cycles were organised. I felt fine, and we had a very pleasant New Year's Eve gathering with friends, though I didn't manage to see the New Year in.

Day 4 was New Year's Day and it was really bad. I was vomiting and had serious diarrhoea. I spent most of the day sleeping when not dealing with unpleasant bodily functions.

Day 5 we rang the hospital because I was still very unwell, plus the dressing covering my PICC line had pulled away. The dressing was replaced and we received advice about how to cope with these side effects. Apparently steroids are given at the same time as the drug infusions and these help you to feel good for the first three days. It is important to take anti-nausea drugs as soon as you wake up on the first couple of days after the pump is removed. I did not know that and had only taken them when I felt sick.

I was still unwell on Day 6. I still had no appetite and found it difficult to eat more than a mouthful or two of anything.

Today is Day 7 of the first treatment cycle and I am starting to feel much better. I have not been sick, though I am still very tired and slept for nearly 3 hours this afternoon.

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