Saturday, May 7, 2016

One order of Chemo to go please

You don’t have to look far to know that cancer is out of control.  It accounts for 25% of the deaths in the US, second only to heart disease (also 1 out of 4 deaths).    There are as many as 200 different types of cancer which accounts for some of the difficulty in trying to find a cure.   Researchers are not trying to find a single cure but a solution for 200 diseases (granted there are similarities across them).

The newest trials involve extracting some of your own white blood cells (the ones that fight infections) and genetically modifying them to recognize and hunt down cancer cells and then         re-injecting them into the patient.   For those interested, here’s a good article on this (thanks for passing along Bob).

 You also don’t have to look far to see that cancer treatment has become big business.   TV advertising for cancer treatment centers and cancer drugs are second only to the political ad campaigns that have been spamming the airways.   Not that this is a negative thing, I believe an informed consumer makes better health decisions.  But it would lead you to believe that there is a glut of available resources and they are competing for patients.   Certainly not my experience as I go through the process.

In the last 10 days for instance I first had to schedule an appointment for my 3-4 day hospital stay for my next round of chemo.  That needed about 10 days advanced notice to get in.   Once out, I have to schedule appointments for blood tests, Dr. visits and transfusions.   Lead times for these vary but it’s never less than 10 days and sometimes longer than 2 weeks.  

I actually have to schedule a chair for transfusions like I’m a car going in for an oil change and tune up.   “Can you check under the hood if I need platelets and top me up with 2 quarts of A+ blood.”   It gets better…I have to schedule an appointment for the appointment.  The first one to have my blood taken so they can check what kind of transfusions I might need and to do a cross match for the blood they would give me.   The second one to actually get the transfusion.

Of course you can always get immediate attention, just spike a fever.  It’s the parental attention-getting equivalent of a 3 year old throwing a tantrum in the middle of a crowed grocery store.   Spike a fever and they check you into the hospital and find room for you somewhere, even if they have to bump someone into the hallway.

 Right now I’m approaching the low point in the recovery between chemo treatments.   This is called the nadir when we have killed off all the white blood cells that fight infection and wait for the system to “reboot” and generate new good cells.    Independent of the blood tests that we do twice a week, I could tell we were getting close because the wounds in my back from the Sweet Syndrome became inflamed, reversing the slow recovery we were making.    No white blood cells, no protection and healing.    Similar situation with my mouth where I started to develop mouth sores.   Some adjustments in medications and a couple of transfusions have stabilized things and I believe we are coming out the other side and starting recovery.   Some good news…I’m off steroids for now, my sense of taste has partially come back, my appetite is good and my weight has stabilized. 

All in all we are doing OK.   Looking forward to coming out of isolation for a few days before we go back into the hospital and do it all over again.

Happy Mother’s Day!!


Eric Naiburg said...

Glad to see the positive turn Dave. Keep up the good fight!!!

Joann Frey said...

You truly are an amazing being Dave!!!! You can do this- all the love and prayers that surround you, may they strengthen you every day. Keep on keeping on. We love you! Ed and Joann

Doreen Bentley said...

You are so loved Dave! I wish we could make this go away for you and Pam and all your family, surely no one deserves this.....but as we have always known, loved and admired you as the person you are, you continue through this adversity to fight, dwell on the positive and educate us all. Just as you did with Nick, you create good from tragedy and sadness and difficulty. Keep fighting, loving, educating and rebuilding your body and your health. You can and will succeed sweetie!!! Love and many Bentley hugs coming your way!!!!!