Sunday, 24 June 2012

That went pretty well. Now for the scary bit...

Well, that wasn't at all bad. Sorry to disappoint anyone out there looking for further tales of dehydration and high-velocity gastric horror, but this round of chemo has pretty much gone as well as can be expected.

True, I took a couple of days off work, but that was more through tiredness than anything else. And since I'm told I'm a little anaemic, that's not surprising. I just slept to get through that. Other than that, it hasn't gone badly at all.

As I write this, on the evening of day five of five, I am very tired. But that's about it. I've eaten normally throughout, and none of the threatened nausea has manifested itself this time. No Saharan thirst, no volcanic Simon Cowells. I feel I've had a bit of a result.

This is my third round at the maximum dose of 400mg of Temozolomide a day. Previous rounds at lower doses had no side effects, but my first at 400mg in April hit me quite hard, leaving me tired, disturbed in the gut, and generally knackered. May's was much worse, coupled as it was with a cheeky wee dose of campylobacter, a normally fairly easily-squashed food poisoning bug which the immune-system reducing powers of the chemo allowed in by the back door to flatten me for three weeks as it left violently by the same route.

But this time has been fine. Day One, Wednesday, was no problem at all and I was at work as normal; but that had been the pattern of the previous two months, so I was still suspicious. On Thursday, I followed the chemo-consumer's instructions carefully: up early to take my anti-emetic, wait 45 minutes before popping the poison (the rules say "at least 30 minutes", but I like to be on the safe side), then wait another 45 minutes before eating and taking my usual daily drugs (Keppra and Losec and dex, oh my!); then it was a case of waiting. After another 45 minutes or so I felt a bit shattered and rather unsure of what my innards were planning, so I called in sick. But as it turned out I simply slept for a big chunk of the day.

Friday was much the same. Saturday was better – I went to my cousin's wedding without serious incident. And she did, as promised, donate her favours money to the Beatson - £200, no less, which is a lot of sugared almonds. Thanks Gael, and all the best to you and Robert.

Today has been fine. I was out at the allotment – admittedly sitting in a chair supervising Clare (I love gardening, I could watch it all day) – but still, I was there. I even planted some garlic. The plot's looking great, we're getting some crops in, and there was massive amusement to be had from the shape of some of the carrots. Esther Ranzen realised it way back: give the great British public some campaigning consumer journalism and a singalong and they'll love you; show them a rude vegetable, and you'll stay in work for 20 years. I even made it to my niece's 11th birthday party and endured a squeal (I believe that's the collective noun) of about a dozen pre-teen girls without relapsing.

So I'm tired now. But it's Sunday night, I can sit and doze in front of the telly. I have no more chemo to take, and I feel pretty good. Tomorrow should be a normal Monday.

There is one more milestone this week. On Wednesday I have to go in to the Southern General for my second MRI since the zapping stopped. This is the first of these scans which may or may not be able to give any useful information about the state of the hole in my head. The first really only mapped out the radiation damage around it. This is the first which might show whether anything nasty is trying to make a return.

I'm a little bit scared about that.

I should put that in perspective… I'm trepidatious, rather than wracked with anxiety. I don't really expect anyone to find anything. First, because it's still quite early to tell – this might be the first one which can show more than the radiation damage, but it might not – and second, and most importantly, because it's just early; people do die quickly from this cancer, but I'm not planning to. I'm relatively young, relatively strong, and I'm aiming for the decades rather than months end of the available scale.

Anyway, I feel better all the time. Bad reactions to the chemo aside, I'm suffering less fatigue, working for longer, and generally feeling that I can get on with things more.

That's got to be good. 

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