måndag 17 september 2018

Chemo therapy, third cycle of eight

So the weeks go by and I started the third cycle of chemo therapy on Friday evening last week.

So, what has happened? 

After the first cycle, I was supposed to have one week of rest and then start the second cycle. The day before the cycle started the hospital took some blood samples and they called and said that my white blood cell had not recovered. So a second rest week was ordered.
I talked with the doctor and he told me that this was quite common for the first cycle dosage to be a bit too high and that they would correct it for the second cycle.

The Anxiety

At this point I also booked a time with my counselor for call therapy, during the first phase with all the surgery etc, I always had the picture in my head that I was sick because of the big wound on my chest. I knew that I had cancer, but the mind is strange and connects the dots to whatever is closest. In my case I was focusing on healing the wound and when that was done I would be able to do stuff again. Turns out I was unable to do things the way I want, and the chemo therapy doesn't help either. I got assigned a counselor already after the first surgery, so I already had a contact and talking really helps. Of course, I can talk with my family and friends but it is easier to talk about the darker things with someone impartial.
Going through this process, when the chest wound has healed but I am not healed has put some issues in my mind. Even if I don't want to know the chances of full recovery, I have not been able to shake the feeling that even if I beat this cancer this time it could come back. So good to talk with a counselor. I really do recommend it if you are in a similar situation.
My anxiety is acting up whenever I am tired and alone. Seldom if my wife is home. Often when watching TV, it could be anything really. I could be driving the car and suddenly my mind starts thinking about my situation in a new way and I get a micro anxiety attack, it can last from 2 seconds to a minute... And as suddenly as it starts it is over and I am back to normal. I've never had issues with anxiety before so this is quite new to me. Step 1, accept it as a part of the situation that I am currently in.

Rest weeks

After the second rest week they took some more blood samples and came to the same conclusion. Wait another week.
The good thing with 3 rest weeks was that my body started to come back a little. I was able to go for some 1-2 hour rides on my bike. Still, whenever a small hill comes up I really struggle to find a lower gear but I can do it! And that really helps! And moving really helps!
This also got me to start forming a plan for a bike trip for next summer, something that I've had on my bucket list for some years now, cycle to Italy through the Stelvio pass.
I got an OK from my wife (not an enthusiastic OK, but an OK) if I could find someone to ride with me. Turns out that I got 1-2 coworkers that are willing to go for the ride! So now I have something to look forward to and train for. But more on that on my adventure blog!

Second cycle

After the three rest weeks I started my second cycle. It was with a lower dosage, 2000 mg capecitabin instead of 2650 mg twice per day. Evidently this lower dosage should not impact the treatment, neither should the extra rest weeks.
Back on a cycle, I got anxiety attacks again. For each day that went, I got more tired and the anxiety attacks seem to be related to that in some way. I am more sensitive.
I also noticed that I got more and more tired. The second week on the second cycle I noticed that I slept 3 hours after work on Monday. And then on Tuesday I worked 2 hours instead of the 4 due to nausea, and on Wednesday I stayed at home to rest. Back at work on Thursday for 2 hours and then Friday, last day in the cycle for 4 hours.
Also I had some numbing of hands on the second week of the cycle.

Second rest week

On the rest week again and I did not have to rest that much during the time, think I slept 1 hour on Tuesday. Blood samples were OK again, even though my red blood cells were still on 110.. Same as before the second cycle. Evidently the chemo therapy holds down these as well and I should not expect to get back to my normal blood value of 150 until after the last chemo cycle. But yes, I was able to start the third cycle directly after one week of rest.

Third cycle

Me and my nurse decided to try something new this cycle to get a better grip on my nausea that usually comes 30 minutes to some hours after I take the pills. This cycle I am to take a pill called Pimpera before I eat something 30 minutes before the chemo pills. Hopefully this will have better effect then the previous cycles where I've been instructed to take the Pimpera in case I get nausea, usually that is too late.
So, third day and so far so good. No nausea yet. But the cycle is pretty long so I guess things can change along the road.

Until next time, keep safe and carry on with life!

Why I am writing this? Not to feel sorry for myself, but as a way to handle the situation and hopefully someone else out there in a similar situation can find this helpful as well. The human body is strong and hopefully I'll come out of this stronger as well. Plan for the worst and hope for the best!

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