SITTING IN ‘THE CHAIR’ – Any chemo patient knows what that means. I wrote about a week ago of the reoccurence of my NH. Lymphoma. So I’ve brought this blog back to life.
Diagnosis update. Initial worries from doctor proved not quite as bad as we all anticipated. My cancer, after full biopsy and second opinion, graded low instead of medium. Great news today, my bone barrow was negative.
Statistically, Lymphoma will come back in about 40 percent of all patients. I asked my trusted chemo nurse Lauri today how many Lymphoma patients she sees back for second chemo — and she said 60-70 percent. Bad news or good news, in Lauri I trust.
So, the reoccurence is treated differently. Obviously, the standard CHOP chemo – cocktail of four drugs every six weeks – didn’t get the job done. But as both of my doctors have said, that doesn’t mean different drugs won’t get it killed or controlled.
So I started yesterday a two-day, back to back, treatment. Yesterday I had the chemo drug Bendamustine – used for patients whose cancer has returned or doesn’t improve. Today, I have a second dose of Bendamustine and I get Rituxan. The non-textbook definition of Rituxan is that it seeks out cancer cells in every little nook and crany. And, if I understand it correctly, works best with chemo drugs to get the job done. An oversimplification but better than the medical talk you’ll find online.
The good news is the side effects should be far less than the four months off of work I went through last year. My plan at moment is to take tomorrow off and try returning to work on Friday.
A note about the photo: Last year I had a Neulasta shot the day after each treatment – an immunity booster to build natural immunity up after being torn down by Chemo. But Neulasta has a new delivery method – a small electronic advice ahered to your arm or stomach that waits a bit then slowly releases small doses of the drug over a 24-hour period. One of the biggest advantages is that I don’t have to take another day or half day off to get a quick shot.
I have this back-to-back treatment again in one month and perhaps another time or two. The bone marrow coming back negative is a big positive. After that routine, I’m most likely to go on an every-every-other month treatment of Rituxan for two years. Rituxan has virtually no side effects and apparently does a good job of keeping the cancer from returning.
A side note, since I try to be educational here for new people going through this. I flew to the west coast (from Indiana) Thursday night for a bit of wine time in Oregon. Overnight, after the long flight, my left leg swole up like a dead hog. (sorry, but good comparison.) I panicked a bit, got ahold of doc and found a local hospital for possible blood clot. No clot. But the lymph nodes when infected with cancer, often don’t drain properly – causing the swelling. After yesterday’s treatment, primarily from the steriod that comes along with every treatment, my leg is slightly down today.
So, there you have it. Cancer, part deaux. I’ve been emotionally down about this for a couple weeks. But the more I learn how common it is, what treatment will and will not be – I understand it is NOT what I went through last year. And, for that I’m grateful. I’ll try to go back to being humorous in future posts.