Aug 262004

well… today I saw my oncologist and tomorrow I do chemo.

The trip to the cancer clinic was even more fun that usual.
See, the way they set it up is, I have to be there first to do some bloodwork and then, about an hour and a half later, I see the oncologist and the trial study nurse and we talk about how it has been going for the last 3 weeks.

One thing you should know… the BC Cancer Agency is freakishly busy.
Like, it’s shocking and it’s depressing.
The staff there are all really kind and helpful and I don’t know how they do what they do, but they are all completely overworked. In the chemo room, in the lab, everywhere I have seen.
It’s not just the hospitals that are struggling because of the ridiculous cuts to healthcare.
It’s weird to have spent so much time inside the healthcare system over the last few months because it is painfully obvious how everything is stretched to the point where it will just snap if anyone pulls on it anymore.

So, we showed up around noon to do the blood work and the lab was even busier than usual. Busy busy busy, people everywhere. So, we sat down and waited.
And waited.
And waited.
And then, from inside the lab, came a scream of agony, and everyone who was waiting for bloodwork reacted in one way or another.
The man beside me wrapped his hand into a fist and smushed it into his eye socket in apparent anguish.
The woman across from me in her purple pants suit went ashen and her eyes became as big as saucers.
I sat and fretted.
And we all waited to see who would come out.
we waited a bit and then a rather pissed off woman came out.
I was concerned that I would have to go next to see the chainsaw phlebotomist, but it turns out I got someone with a gentler touch.
She took my blood and it went fine.

Then we met with the oncologist and the trial nurse.
It turns out I have anemia, and that’s why I was having such a hard time bouncing back after the last treatment.
So, they offered me a spot in yet another drug trial, this one for a drug that increases the red blood cell count with a drug, the name of which I forget.
It would be a double blind study and, of course, I would have a 50/50 chance of getting the placebo. And… I would be getting even more bloodwork done because I was in the study.
Elaine and I talked about it some and had decided we would talk about it at home tonight. At that point, Daktari comes back in the room and says ‘never mind about signing that consent form. We just got your blood work results back and your red blood cell count has gone up in the last week and it is too high for you to be in the study now’.
And, I guess that’s a relief.
I wasn’t really sure which way I was going to go on that.
But, I am still anemic, so I need to deal with that and I am not keen on the idea of doing transfusions.
The nurse says that iron tablets aren’t supposed to make any difference but in her experience they do, so I may want to keep taking them.
In fact, I just started taking them a couple of weeks ago and that may be why my red blood cell count got better.
Stay tuned for more news on that.

On the good news/bad news front, we were talking to the nurse and I mentioned something about how it seems like a lot of women do their chemo treatment and then have about 6 months of being okay and then their cancer comes back again. The nurse said, quite bluntly, “well, that’s because ovarian cancer has such a high rate of recurrence.”

The good news came in the form of the CA 125 results.
I am sure I have everyone trained to understand the significance of the test. But in case you don’t know, short of cutting me open again, the CA 125 test is the best indicator there is about what is going on with the cancer.
Before the surgery, it was at 150-ish.
Last time I saw the oncologist it was at 6
Today it is down to 4
So, that is really really good news.
The oncologist says that it is a really good sign that the CA 125 counts dropped so much and so quickly. He said that is a really important indicator of how it is going. He said that this sort of response means I am in the category of people that they consider ‘most optimistically’.
I am pretty happy about that.

And tomorrow, I roll up my sleeve and do it all over again.
I seem to have scarring happening on my veins in my hands, from the chemo drugs going in, or maybe because of how long the needle sits there. That’s kind of gross and painful, but not serious in any way.

It’s late and I need to pack stuff up for my day tomorrow.
And then sleep while I can.
When next I blog, I will probably be strung out from lack of sleep or drugged out of my mind, so do check back in a few days and see what I am ranting about.
Who would want to miss that?

 Posted by at 12:08 am

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