Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Good News, Bad News

I'll start with the good news.  Dr Keedy held the Adriamycin (red devil) again because I'm still doing radiation (even though I only FOUR - count them - FOUR! treatments remaining).  So chemo today was quick - cytoxan & vincristine & done.  That was an unexpected treat.

Not good news on my blood counts though.  Warning, this is your medical school lesson for the day as I attempt to explain all this -hope its not too confusing or boring.  They were okay to proceed with treatment this time, but they were significantly worse than 2 weeks ago. 

My white blood cell count (for my fellow cancer buddies who study this stuff!) was down to 3.4 (below 3.9 is considered low).  2 weeks ago it was 11 & a month ago it was like 15.  Amazing how fast these drugs can affect your blood counts, even with white blood cell boosters like the Neulasta shot I get after chemo.  So, we don't have to do anything about this right now, but it is pretty border line & I don't know what the threshold value is where treatment has to be delayed - I'm going to ask the nurses for another explanation tomorrow.  Low white blood cells are a problem because of risk of getting sick.  There are 2 numbers they look at for red blood cell counts.  One is platelet count; I can't remember what the other one is.  Both of mine are low, but not "emergency" low.  My platelet count is 86 (below 90 is considered anemic but I think I can continue to get chemo so long as its above 75). 2 weeks ago it was 315 - big drop huh.  So, that means a few things...

First, I have to get 2 units of blood tomorrow.  Takes an hour or so per unit to infuse & they can do it in the infusion suite right after (or before, not sure) I get my chemo.  They use the port to do it too so I don't even have to get stuck again.  So that will boost it back up pretty much immediately.  Dr Keedy explained that the chemo basically stops your body from regenerating blood so I actually have about 6 units less blood than I should right now.  I'm still not exactly clear on how all that works.  The side effects from having low red blood count are feeling very tired and being short of breath.  Luckily, I have neither of those!

The more concerning (for me - and yes I know this is weird & makes no sense) issue is that if my blood counts continue to lower - which is totally expected - we will have to add weeks in between treatments.  Now, this is very concerning to me because I have a deadline.  I want my last treatment to be on September 7th.  Period.  I do not do delays or slowing down or making it easier - its not in m DNA (evidently it may be in my blood tho!).  I told Dr Keedy to find a way to make this adding weeks thing not happen and she kind of laughed at me.  She also made the mistake of telling me that she has only ever had one patient make it thru the whole 7 cycles with no delays - and she was 18.  So of course that makes me want to finish on time even more.  However, she's the boss (I know it kills me) so we will obviously do as she recommends.

It will be a scarf - eventually!
 I found a new form of therapy! My neighbor, Angie, taught me how to knit today.  Well she taught me how to knit while she is there supervising - I tried to do some more on my own & I'm stuck already.  However, it was very relaxing and fun & I loved spending the time with her.  In fact, we sat there doing it for about half an hour after chemo - they finally had to kick us out because they needed the room.  I can see myself spending a lot of time doing this once I get it right.  The trick is when I screw up, I need poor Angie to tell me what to do & how to fix it.  I bet she will get tired of that very quickly(=  Here's your photo therapy - of the beginning of my knitting career.  Its certainly less fattening than baking!

Speaking of baking, I made a turkey breast in the crockpot today (using my favorite slow cooker liners).  Pretty easy recipe - we will see how it tastes.  Believe it or not, I'm actually a bit hungry!

So thats the long & short of the first day of Cycle 3.  The first half of Cycle 3 is in the history books tomorrow!!  And if anybody knows how to boost your red & white blood cell counts without drugs or blood transfusions, I'm all ears...

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