Thursday, October 29, 2009

Three down...and a zillion to go...

..or so it seems, since the entire regimen goes on for six months.

I have no symptoms post-chemo, so far. I feel just fine. Dr. Hema asked, the other day, if I had run a fever. Truthfully, I never checked, because I never had the slightest reason to suspect a fever. Since then, I have been checking every four hours or so and keeping a log. So far, I have not exceeded 98 degrees.

I am very happy that my health is good; I will greatly enjoy my visit from my sister P and bro-in-law D. She and I were a bit concerned about what my condition might be.

The medication I am being infused with works by destroying B-cells, to which lymphoma cells attach. This has the effect of drastically reducing one's resistance to infection. This is a bit scary in a world fighting swine flu. I am therefor avoiding contact with people. For example, Sylvia had an appointment Tuesday afternoon, after my infusion. I stayed in the car with the radio and a magazine. We are going to lay in a supply of groceries today; I will finish the magazine in the car and smear ourselves with Purel after we get the groceries loaded in the car.

So far, so good!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chemo begins

The drug fludarabine is indeed, as I indicated in the last post, administered once a day for five days. Then there is a four week break and then another five day regimen, repeated until six (!!) regimens have been administered. That's a total of six months! Wow! I was naive enough to think two months to get the rituxan done was a bit much.

The good news, if there can be any, is that the treatments take just about an hour. I keep my IV needle inserted for three days so I am not punctured anew every day. After Wednesday's treatment, it is removed and a fresh one is inserted on Thursday, which remains until Friday's treatment is finished. I am starting to have needle tracks!

So far, there are no side effects at all. I feel just perfect. I hope I am not exposing my naivety yet again.

Here is a description of the new drug:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A disappointing report

Dr. Hema called me today, yes, on Saturday, to report that he received the results of the blood tests. The hemoglobin, which was at 11.2 is now 11.2; which is no improvement. The M spike reading, which is a pretty clear indicator of lymphoma, has gone from 2.0 to 3.16 since July. In a patient in remission, it is zero. He said he was disappointed that the rituxan didn't work for me, since it was lengthy and had pretty rough side effects. (Well, me, too, Doc!)

He recommends a round of fludarabine, a chemotherapy drug that is administered every day for a week. He said he would try to get it set up for Monday through Friday. My dear sister P is coming to visit Friday, so I am trying to set up the exactly correct schedule so I can have a treatment, go to a late lunch and then get to the airport at just the right time to hug P!!

If the treatment room has room, it looks like I start chemo this Monday.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A report from Dr. Hema

Dr. Hema called this morning after he received the results of the PET scan. He said the lymph nodes did not appear any smaller, but neither did they appear any larger. He reiterated that the enlargement was very small. I assume that means that it is very difficult to measure a meaningful difference between 'very small' and 'very, very small.'

He said that the blood tests, due to be drawn tomorrow, will be more informative. There are markers that he will examine to determine if the lymphoma has subsided, as well as our old pal, the hemoglobin level. I plan to ask for my own copies of the blood test results so that I can (mis)interpret the results for myself. He said the samples will need to be sent out and by the time they are returned and interpreted, it will likely be next week before I get a report from him.

This is certainly not the home run, let's throw a parade report I had hoped for, but at least it's no worse. As well, the PET scan is only a part of the story. Let's hear the whole story before we draw any conclusions.

EDIT: Last hemoglobin reading: 11.2; today's weight: 166.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Yet another trip to Big City

Today was the PET scan. You are injected with radioactive fluids (in my case, a not very tasty banana shake) and the radioactive material, through the miracle of science, clearly shows areas of heightened activity, especially cancers. What Dr. Hema and I are looking for is no or very little activity.

This was a 3 1/2 hour process. I feel very sorry for my adorable wife; she sat in the waiting room and knitted, glancing at her watch. I was in a bed and, thanks to a self-prescribed dose of Benadryl, slept while the radioactive shake permeated my body. "They was givin' me ten thousand REMs a day..." (Sorry, Jack!)

This is a big step in the process that I am glad to have behind me. Wednesday, I have blood tests and then await a good report from Dr. Hema. You will be the second to know!

On the way home, we treated ourselves to a late lunch or early dinner (Linner?) at Apple-Chili-Charley's. I must compliment them; at 3:45 pm, you get an immediate booth and very prompt service.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Feeling great!

I have no symptoms typical of post-infusion. I have a tremendous appetite and food tastes great. I am sleeping eight full hours with no too-hot or too-cold episodes. I am thinking of putting on a red cape and flying around the neighborhood faster than a speeding locomotive!

Next Monday, I have a PET scan and Wednesday I have blood tests. I hope, not long after that, I get a very happy telephone call from Dr. Hema!

Today's weight: 165. My goal: 170. Another gravy biscuit, please!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Feeling good!

I feel pretty normal today; yesterday was a good day, too. I've had no fever, sweats, chills, convulsions, visits from aliens, paranormal experiences, nor out-of-body experiences! I am pronouncing myself out of symptoms. It is now time to resume my morning walks and get back to 3 miles; time to get some tone back into my puny body and time to not only act normal, but be normal.

My weight this morning was 165.5. I think that is a hopeful sign, because I had been as low as 158 and struggling to keep it that high. Another gravy biscuit, please!

The next step is blood tests on October 21. They will thankfully be done at my primary care doctor's office, about 5 minutes away, rather than at Dr. Hema's office, about 45 minutes away. Dr. Primary is to fax the results to Dr. Hema.

I hope that I have little to report until October 21.