I arrived at the doctor's office this morning ready to start cycle 6. Since it is National Oncology Nurse Appreciation Month (my daughter called this a "Hallmark holiday"), I stopped on my way down and picked up some flowers and biscotti for them. My appointment included some time with the oncologist, so I came prepared with my list of questions. The biggest question I had was about what is going to happen after treatment is done on May 13.
Here's what the doctor told me: I will have blood work the week after my last treatment on May 20th and a follow up physical on May 26th. The doctor ordered a cat scan that needs to be done in time for him to review the results before that physical. I will also need to have monitoring blood work every 3 months "for a long while."
I also asked him how quickly I can have my ports removed. I am going to have the surgery scheduled for the week of June 10, since school will be over and I won't have to take any more time off from school.
The last question I had for him was about the hot flashes I have been experiencing since my ovaries have been removed. He said he could prescribe a low dose hormone pill for me, or I could try some over the counter remedies. I told him I would try the over the counter remedies first, but that I was going to wait until after I was done with treatment.
I updated my blood work spreadsheet with the results from last week and today. The good news is that my CA-125 is down to 31.8, the lowest it has been since I started treatment. The nurses told me the rest of last week's results were very good; there was no reason to be concerned. After my appointment the nurse drew more blood (I have to "pass" before they will begin the chemotherapy treatment). While I was waiting for my results, another patient was sent home because one of her counts was too low. This happens at least once while I am there during my infusions. It serves as a good reminder about how lucky I am to have been able to stay on schedule without having to take a week off or have a blood transfusion.
Today was a typical day 1 treatment; pre-meds (steroids, benadryl and anti-nausea) into my IV port first, then the Taxol. The benadryl makes me sleepy, but I actually wrote in my recovery journal this morning. Hopefully before the benadryl made me too loopy! I had a great visit with my daughter and the friend who was going to drive me to my acupuncture appointment and then home. No, DuPage Medical Group is still fighting me about paying for acupuncture. I found a local practitioner who was recommended by a friend who is a breast cancer survivor, so I decided to start treatment. I haven't given up on the HMO, but I didn't want to wait any longer.
My acupuncture appointment went well. I explained my symptoms to the acupuncturist, told him where I was in my treatment, and that I was concerned about long-term lasting effects. He told me my concerns were common among cancer patients. He recommended twice a week treatments for 4 - 6 weeks. They would end after my treatments are done, and I should see some relief.
Right now it's almost 10:30pm. I am usually sound asleep by now. I blame it on the steroids from my treatment today and anxiety about tomorrow's treatment. IP Cisplatin treatments have been the toughest for me throughout my treatment. I am hoping things aren't that bad because my son will be coming home for Mother's Day and his 21st birthday.
I have been eating non-stop since I got home this afternoon. More steroid fallout. I figured I would take advantage of the artificial energy by catching up on some things from work and writing this blog post. I am still not tired, but I am going to watch Robert Downey Jr on Jimmy Fallon and then force myself to take a sleeping pill and go to bed.