Sunday, June 7, 2009

EPOCH + R, round eight

Three weeks ago (right when I finished round seven), my company laid off our only night shift inspector. To try to get product ready to ship out on our trucks in the morning, I have been starting work at 3am. I have been leaving work at 11am, which is nice, but makes for a weird sleep schedule (nap when I get home, wake up for the afternoon, then have a short sleep before work). This coming week my boss is having me try a 5am to 1pm shift; it would be nice if that ends up working so I can stop having to wake up at two o'clock in the morning.

At the end of the first break week, my blood tests came back low on platelets. I noticed several times that idle scratching of a scab produced, not a lot of blood, but much more than would have normally seen. My eighth Neupogen shot left me with a bruise, something that had not happened before. It worries me to have my blood cells becoming more affected by the chemotherapy. On the bright side, though, my hemoglobin levels have been hanging in there. Below 12 is anemic; below 8 requires a blood transfusion. The past four cycles, I've squeaked by at 8.3 to 8.4.

I was not hungry or thirsty for most of my first break week. My thirst started working again on Thursday, but the hunger came back more gradually. It wasn't until well into my second break week that I felt I was eating normally again. I must have been making myself eat enough, though, because I did not lose any weight. It's reassuring to be at the same weight I was when I started the chemo.

The break from round seven, for the first time during my treatment, I never felt a need for pain relievers. No nighttime leg cramps, no tongue pain: it was wonderful to be pain-free for so much of the time. That said, I did have some occasional minor irritations. One was similar to lower back pain/cramps I have typically had on the last day of Neupogen shots. This cycle, however, I had cramps along my entire spine (usually when I was leaning forward to look at something) that persisted several days after my last shot. I had been attributing this to the "bone pain" side effect of the Neupogen, but now I think it must be something else.

Also, the palms of my hands and soles of my feet were very sensitive for a couple of days during my second break week (e.g. standing on an uneven surface barefoot was painful). I believe this is called hand-foot syndrome. Having it for a long period of time can cause a person to lose their fingerprints, which apparently upsets U.S. Customs officials. This isn't a risk in my case (since I plan on being done with chemotherapy now), but I thought it was interesting.

My eighth week of chemotherapy was very similar to the past few rounds: sleeping about ten hours a day, toward the end of the week everything started tasting really nasty (on Friday I had the nurses give me IV fluids). The hot flashes have continued. And of course, the torso swelling this weekend that makes it painful to be touched (I think is inflammation caused by withdrawal from the steroids). The lack of hunger and thirst has started, and I know I'll have the low energy/steroid crash in a couple of days. But I'll get through it, and this time, I get to stay feeling normal! Yay for chemotherapy being done!


Jen said...

Congrats on finishing your chemo treatments! I applaud you, it can't be easy, especially with a new work schedule.

kmc86 said...

Hello there, my husband was diagnosed with Diffuse B cell Lymphoma, he is 45 and started his EPOCH R treatment, this week was his 2nd cycle. He is in stage1.
the dr has recommended 6 cycles, How are you doing? and why are you doing 8 cycles? what is the prognosis? thanks

lyrl said...

I believe it's pretty standard to go two cycles beyond maximum response (shrinkage) of the tumor, for a total of up to eight cycle. My tumor was still shrinking after six cycles, so my oncologist recommended two more.

My tumor was large (over 5 inches across), had grown into my pericardium (the sack around the heart) and metastasized to my left adrenal gland. With your husband in stage 1, it's very likely he will only need six cycles.

I'm doing good right now. I have a PET scan in two weeks, and then my oncologist will discuss radiation with me. The prognosis for my sub-type of diffuse B cell is fairly good; I talked more about it in this post.

All the best to your husband in dealing with the chemo and in beating his cancer.

Becky (CanadianMaple) said...

Congratulations on being done the chemo! I've been thinking about you and hoping you've been doing well.

OS has been really slow and I wanted to extend an invite to the Speakeasy. I've always enjoyed your posts and wanted to give you the option to join in. :)