Friday, April 3, 2009

Plans for chemo

Hi friends and family. Brad and I met with the oncologist (and team) this week. Lots of information to absorb (I’m getting a whole new education). They strongly recommended chemotherapy due to the aggressive nature of this particular cancer, and we’ve agreed to go that way. That will be followed by radiation. This gets my chance of re-occurrence back down to the same as anybody else. For those at work – this means I will likely be out for the rest of the year…

My arm is much better. I don’t have full use back but it’s getting closer, and the pain is a lot less.

Here’s the details on the chemo (which will be at the brand new Buhler Cancer Centre at the Vic):

6 treatments, one every 21 days. It takes 2-3 hours for each treatment (administered through an IV). A mixture of 3 drugs for the first 3 treatments, and a 4th drug by itself for the last 3 treatments. Blood work is always done a day or two before each treatment to ensure the white blood cells (fight infection) and platelet counts (help your blood clot) are back up to normal, otherwise they delay. For those already familiar with cancer treatments – it’s the FEC-D regimen (Fluorouracil, Epirubicin, Cyclophosphamide, Docetaxel), with all of the bad side effects included for free (although they do add in an anti-nausea drug).

So when does it start? More to learn. First is the MUGA scan – a test of your heart muscle to measure the strength of it pumping the blood. Both to make sure you are strong enough to start the treatment, and as a baseline to ensure its not affected as you go through treatment. The years of running should have my heart pretty strong to start out here! Next is the decision of how to get the chemo – our little veins aren’t strong enough to handle the chemicals, so the choice is a PICC in your bicep (with a short tube hanging out) or a PORT surgically implanted just below your collar bone. Both have a tube feeding through your vein into an area close to your heart. Both stay in place for the length of your treatment (and can be used to draw blood or put in the chemo). I’ve decided on the PORT since I’m not good with tubes hanging out that could get caught on things and shouldn’t get wet :). It’s a couple of weeks until I get the PORT put in (quick surgery, just local freezing). Then a few days for it to heal, and then chemo starts.

I’ll keep you posted. Still waiting for all of our fresh new snow to melt!
Take care,