Next blog update will be posted by Saturday, November 3rd, at midnight.
Hello again everyone. Another week is in the books. 3 down, 15 to go. Important service bulletin: I no longer have my hair. My beard and the hair on the top of my head was falling out enough that I just went ahead and shaved it. At this point I still have my eyebrows and hear on my arms and such. I’m not 100% sure if that will fall out or not.
I received chemo treatment cycle 2 of 6 this week. This time I still got the 8 bags of goodies, but it took about 7 hours instead of 8. The “R” in the RCHOP regiment (Rituximab) is the chemo that can cause issues. They administer it very slowly at first, then ramp up the speed if things are going good. During the first cycle that one bag alone took 4 hours. This time it was 3 hours. The nurse said she was going to ask the doctor if next time we could do a “rapid” infusion, since I have had no issues, which would drop that bag down to 1.5 hours. When I met with the doctor before the infusions, I asked him about my theory I presented to you all last week. You know… the optimistic possibility that I could get away with fewer than 6 cycles. Unfortunately, that was a very quick “uhh… no… good try though”. Then he explained why, and it made sense. With my type of lymphoma, they estimate that each cycle removes 85% of the cancerous cells. Meaning… Cycle 1 kills 85% of what you start with (hence the reason you feel/see so many positive effects after just 1 cycle), then cycle 2 kills 85% of what is left, cycle 3 kills 85% of what is left… etc. By the end of your last cycle, you are killing “microscopic” cancer cells that don’t show up on any scan. It’s really a “just to be safe” measure. I’ll be honest, I’m in it this far, I’ll take the full 6 cycles just to be safe any day, if it means I don’t have to do this again in a few years. Now, it should be noted that not all lymphoma patients are slated for 6 cycles. The number of cycles each patient needs is based on the overall mass size and stage that the cancer is in BEFORE you start the first treatment. That data is what dictates how many times you have to do the 85% rule. This was really all quite interesting to me how modern medicine has this down to an exact science. I also found out that the lady who does my blood work had Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and she has been cancer free for 12 years now. That was very encouraging to hear.
The PET scan to check and make sure everything is clearing up as expected is on November 11th. I don’t fully remember how long it took to get those results. (I guess I could go back through the blog and find out). I’m hoping they will have them by the time I meet with my doctor again, which is on 11/15. From all the blood work they have been doing, the only issue they see so far is my potassium levels. They have put me on a potassium supplement pill to try to correct this, and I started this medicine on Thursday this week. They told me I could stop taking the medicine for controlling uric acid, because my numbers show I don’t need it. They will continue to monitor it though.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for helping me through another week and another chemo treatment. I suspect the coming week will be rough based on the first cycle. I know You will be there to help me through it. I continue to be amazed and thankful at how You have helped me so much through this process so far, and I have faith that You will continue to help. I thank You again for everyone you have put in my life to help support me. My colleagues and boss are covering for me at work, my church family is praying and helping with meals, and my direct family is helping with meals, yard work, anything I need. It is only through You that I could be in such an awesome position with such awesome friends and family to help get me through this trial in my life. I know that there are a lot of other people that are having health and other issues that come through our prayer chain. I continue to pray for them Lord, and ask that You would help them in their situations. I thank You for all that You do, Amen.