Time Keeps on Ticking

1 Dec

Tami – This blog title is for you.  Hope the song stays with you all day.  :)

Source: ThinkStockPhotos.com

You know how I said yesterday that these treatments come around fast?  I lied.

I am slightly neutrapenic at the moment.  You’re neutra-what??

Neutropenia happens when the neutrophil (which is a type of white blood cell) count is too low.  This can be caused by the cancer itself or, which is often the case, by the chemotherapy.

My count is not severely low, but it was low enough yesterday that treatment is being postponed for a week.  Uugghhhh…..  Do you know what this does to me mentally?  I was completely psyched up and ready for chemo yesterday.  I had “The Talk” with myself while I was getting dressed, pumping myself up to get ready for what was to come.  I was even having a good hair day, people!  And that is NOT something that happens every day.  :)

I, and my hair, were ready to tackle this cancer!  But, alas, it was not to be.

Because the chemo attacks the white cells, receiving treatment while my count is too low could could put me at high risk for infection.  A low white cell count means that it is easier for me to catch an infection and harder for me to fight it off on my own.  In order to prevent an infection (not just a cold or flu type of infection, but any infection caused by something like germs getting into a paper cut, etc.), I am to do things like:

  • avoid sick people, so if I back away from you – it’s nothing personal :)
  • wash my hands even more often than normal and use hand sanitizer when I absolutely cannot wash
  • brush my teeth gently with a soft toothbrush
  • do not touch Pumpkin’s litter box (Barry already does this, bless him!)
  • check my temp 3 times a day (call the doc if it’s 100.5 or higher)

I’ll go back next Wednesday, have labs, and hope and pray that the count is high enough I can resume treatment.  If I’m able to get treatment next week, Dr. Daniel wants to follow it with an injection of Neupogen to make sure the white count doesn’t dip too low after the next treatment.  Neupogen will cause my bone marrow to create more white cells.  This is good and helpful, but the downside is that my bones will ache for a while because the marrow is working so hard.  It just gets more and more fun!

Now, for some REALLY good news.  The CT scan I had last week shows that the kidney looks GREAT!!  It continues to show improvement and a significant reduction in the amount of “thickening” that is the result of the lymphoma.  Dr. Daniel said it is possible (hear me – possible, not definite) that there is no active cancer there anymore.  So it seems that everything we’ve been doing is doing exactly what we hoped it would.  Praise God!

The postponement of this week’s treatment means my last treatment will not be the last week of December, but will instead be the first week of January.  I explained to Dr. Daniel that this just did not fit my plans.  Ha ha!  MY goal was to be finished with chemo by the end of the year and start 2012 chemo-free.  He apologized (cause he’s such a nice guy) and then pointed out that I will most likely do what’s called maintenance chemo for two years.  So even if I finished this initial course of treatment by the end of the year, I would still have chemo next year.  Bummer!  I’d read about maintenance chemo and knew it was a definite possibility for someone with indolent lymphoma, so it wasn’t a total surprise.  For me, maintenance chemo will involve one treatment of Rituxan every 2 months and I will do this for two years in addition to periodic scans to monitor the kidney.

While I’m not surprised by the suggestion of maintenance chemo, it does place me face-to-face with my new life in a way that I hadn’t yet allowed my mind to really fully grasp.  Even after these initial six courses are complete, I will be not cured of lymphoma – I will be in remission.  As much as I would like for this race to be a sprint to the finish line from where I could happily wave goodbye to lymphoma, it is actually more like a marathon that is going to take much longer to complete.  Either way, I’m up for it thanks to my God, and you all – my family and friends who are praying, loving, and encouraging me through this.

♥ Rachel

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8 Responses to “Time Keeps on Ticking”

  1. Becky Robinson December 1, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    Glad the report on your kidney was good. No more stent–Yea!! Happy day, girl.

    Love,
    Becky

    • rachturner December 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

      Yes, Becky! Such good news from the CT. :)

  2. The Savvy Sister December 1, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    Minor set back…you know this, just go with it and trust that this is the way it’s supposed to happen.
    I used a great meditation tape to “think” my white cells to go up. It was very empowering:
    I used “Healthy Immune System”, but there are other CD’s that guide you through the meditation. There are many for chemo.
    Here’s the link if you’re interested:
    http://www.healthjourneys.com/category.aspx?mcid=7&catid=13

    • rachturner December 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

      Very minor setback and all for my own good. Did it work? “thinking” your white cells up? That’s an interesting idea.

      • The Savvy Sister December 5, 2011 at 7:44 am #

        Your mind is very powerful. I think it absolutely did as my doctors said they never saw anyone do as well as I did with therapy.(I also ate well, and exercised, and prayed…a lot during treatment)
        I was on an experimental dose of Taxotere getting it weekly instead of every 3 weeks.
        It at least gave me something to do during chemo!

      • rachturner December 7, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

        That is so great to hear and good for you for doing so well with it. You strike me as someone who works hard to meet and beat every challenge presented to you.

  3. Susan December 3, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Ugh ugh ugh! I know what a mind game it is to have a setback like this! I think it’s because we invest so much emotionally into the dates and chemo countdown, it’s really a tough blow when that gets screwed with. My chemo cocktail is really harsh on the white blood cells, so I actually have to give myself Neupogen for 10 days after each treatment. The bone pain does suck (I’m actually experiencing it pretty badly today) but it’s not so bad that it’s worth worrying about. Having to be extra careful about germs does get really annoying, but infections are no joke, so I am always having to remind myself that it’s better safe than sorry. Cancer never listens to our plans, does it? On the other hand – GREAT new about your scans!!

    • rachturner December 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

      I think half the battle when dealing with cancer has to do with the mental aspect. 10 days of Neupogen? Wow. Thanks for the info about the bone pain. Now I’m not as nervous about it. You are so right, Susan – cancer never listens to our plans. :) I hope you are having a good day today!

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