Saturday, May 06, 2017

Ugh...round 2 done...

Everything was going so smoothly until about three weeks ago...

With my white blood count at a rock bottom 250, I developed cellulitis in my right leg.  One minute I was fine, and the next I was wondering why I was so cold and why did my leg hurt so much.  By the time I got home from work (of course I was at work), I had a raging fever and chills, not to mention the fact that my leg was red and painful.

A quick trip to the doctor the next day confirmed my Google diagnosis.  I was given both IV and oral antibiotics and sent home.  My leg got better until precisely a week later when the infection--evidently only playing possum--came back worse than ever.  My right leg was a glowing red inferno of infection, while my left quietly developed red petechiae (dots, if you will).  More IV and oral antibiotics followed, and my second round of chemo was postponed.

When my infection finally subsided, the doctor divided chemo into four days this time, with the Rituxan on a day all by itself.  Days two through four were the administering of the Fludarabine and the Cyclophosphamide.  

Last time I had some "gastric" upsets but it wasn't too bad.  This time?  This time I felt like I was going to die, or maybe just wanted to die.  In addition to the stomach issues, I just felt generally awful.  Like, I haven't felt this awful in a lonnnnng time!

I'm on the upswing now, although I'm not going to be doing anything more strenuous than couch surfing for a while.  If it was this bad with round two, I'm not looking forward to rounds three through six!  

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Round one of chemo--DONE!

I completed three consecutive days of chemo, and was released with a follow-up appointment for the next Wednesday.  Chemo itself wasn't awful, I guess.  It was a lot of sitting around and watching movies/television while they pumped me full of drugs.  

I receive three drugs that are the "chemo" drugs themselves:  Rituxan, a monoclonal antibody that targets cancer cells; Fludarabine and cyclophosphamide, both cytotoxins that tend to kill cells indiscriminately.  In addition, they give me some steroids just to pep me up (I guess) and iron.  The Rituxan and the iron take quite a while to drip, but the other drugs only take about 45 minutes to an hour each.  The first day was long--seven hours, the second, only about five, and the third, a short three hours.

I didn't feel sick to my stomach, but something that they gave me upset my GI tract.  My stomach just didn't feel good and I ended up with some other "issues" (to put it politely).  It's quite the diet; this morning--10 days after beginning chemo--I am 30 pounds lighter!  And I am eating--although my dear Dr. Pepper doesn't taste good to me anymore.

When I went to the doctor on Wednesday, he ran a quick blood count.  My white blood count plunged from 140,000 to 2,000!  Even he was shocked at how quickly my numbers had dropped and he didn't like the rapid weight loss.  Good news is that my hemoglobin (the part of the blood that carries oxygen to the body) is up!  For the first time this year, I can breathe enough to walk to my car from the doctor's office!  

So, until my next chemo appointment in April, I continue to make weekly trips to the doctor so that they can monitor me.  This next week I'll get more iron to boost my hemoglobin further.  

I am now forced to wear a mask in public so that germs stay at bay.  So, if you see someone rocking a "Cancer Sucks" mask, you'll know it's me. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cancer Sucks...

As most of you know, I was diagnosed seven years ago with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.  For most of the intervening time, it remained quiet and uneventful.  Lots of blood tests and doctor's appointments and not much else.

Then last year, between May and December, my white blood count more than doubled and I was getting more and more easily fatigued.  After the first of the year, I had a bone marrow biopsy, a CT scan, and a lymphedectomy (removal of a lymph node), and the implantation of a chemo port.  The doctor had mentioned back in January that chemo was probably 6-9 months away. Well, last week when I went for an appointment, to my shock and surprise, he told me we couldn't wait any longer.  

Leukemia causes a proliferation of white blood cells that are "broken."  Over the course of seven years, my white cells have grown so numerous that there's no room for my red blood cells.  Due to this, I am extremely short of breath.  Since Christmas, and maybe even before, just walking a short distance makes me sound like I've run a race.  If we were to wait any longer on the chemo, my numbers would just get worse.

So, I found myself at Texas Oncology in Allen bright and early this morning, hooked up to a machine!  I am receiving a combination treatment of Fludarabine, Cyclophosphamide, and Rituxan.  Medical advances are amazing--Rituxan (a monoclonal antibody that targets specific cancer cells) was only in the testing phase when I was diagnosed!

At any rate, so far all is well.  I'm so worn out, though--now whether that has to do with my treatment or the nerves leading up to it, I don't know.  

I hope you follow along with me on this journey.  As my dear friend Nicolas said, "I promised you a life of adventure, dear.  We just didn't know it was going to be this kind of adventure."