Much as I expected, the results of the CT scan have meant a course of chemotherapy being recommended and booked. We start on Wednesday 10th February.
If I am lucky, I will need only six treatments, one every three weeks. If I am unlucky, I will need eight. So, this is it until at least the end of May, if not the beginning of July.
The cocktail of drugs that I am to be given is known as R-CVP and consists of Rituximab, Cyclophosphamide, Vincristine and Prednisolone. The first three are given intravenously, while the last is a steroid that is taken orally, over 5 days, starting on the day of the iv drugs. If you want to know more about these, there is a very good leaflet available here: http://tinyurl.com/ya8oo24 and Macmillan also have something very useful: http://tinyurl.com/y9mh3e7
Helpfully, these leaflets also list the side effects that may or may not come. Anything from a dry mouth and mouth ulcers, to a trigger for diabetes, or even other cancers. I could be manic or depressed, get constipation or bladder irritation. I could get pins and needles or low blood pressure, or… So, it’s all exciting stuff.
The first course is, apparently, the worst. Once they have seen how you react to the above, they can tailor the remaining sessions to a certain extent. So, if you do get nausea, they can include an anti-nausea drug the next time. It takes all day to administer the drugs in the hospital, and the first session may involve an over-night stay too.
I have been advised that I will need to take at least the remainder of the week off work and maybe the next week too. However, I expect that for the following sessions, just the three days will be necessary. At least I hope so. That would just mean that I would lose three days every three weeks, which isn’t so bad. But we will see. No doubt I will post here what happens…
If this treatment works, I have been advised that this should knock the disease back for the next 5 years or so, at which time another round of treatment, with more powerful drugs will be on the cards. Eventually, there could be bone marrow transplantation to look forward to and there is some good work being done with stem cells at the moment, which may have come good by the time I need it. I have decided to pass on the mistletoe for now…
One of my friends has suggested that I keep a photographic record of what happens while I am in hospital. I’m only going to be in there for a relatively short time, but I will look at making a project out of the next few months for sure.
So. Let’s get on with it. Plenty of people have been down this road before and come out the other end smiling. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t.
PS – Top Tip for a really excellent film to watch – “Moon”.