Chronicles of Chemotherapy – Cycle #6 (The Final One!)
I woke up with feeling nauseous and suffering a hangover. And the hangover lingers on for at least 4 to 5 days at least. It’s an expensive way to have a hangover.
Anyhow… I made it! Yep, I have crossed the finishing line. I had my sixth and final chemotherapy session on Wednesday, 9th Feb. On the day itself, I woke up at 6 am, a good 1.5 hours earlier than the scheduled alarm clock. I put it down to anxiety together with the movements of my niece and nephews getting ready for school made it more challenging for me to catch extra 40 winks. I decided to wake up and slowly get myself ready for the 10am appointment.
Arrived at the clinic on time and I saw my favourite nurse from the external lab waiting at the receptionist. I couldn’t be more happier to have her draw my blood for the last time – it was fated. I happily made my way to the treatment room and sat in one of the sofa chairs ready for the test. A few minutes later, a different nurse was assigned instead. I tried to keep my disappointed look as subtle as possible. I wanted to ask, “Where did the other nurse go to?? I demand that she comes back and to take my blood!”. I had to accept that it wasn’t to be. I forged on and let the other nurse do her job.
I looked away as usual while the needle is being inserted and adopt my “happy thoughts” at the same time. I felt the poke and it hurt a tiny bit. Glad that this part of the treatment is over in less than ten minutes. Now, I just have to wait for 1.5 hours for the lab to turn around the results. Meanwhile I step outside to feed my tummy some breakfast. I was craving for an egg sandwich. Walked across towards the food basement of Takashimaya shopping centre and grabbed my egg sandwich in a Pomodoro bread roll from the Peck bakery. It really hit the spot. Walked around the atrium investigating the post Chinese New Year sale with my sister. The 1.5 hours flew by and time to head back to the oncologist’s office.
I didn’t have to wait for long before the lab faxed in results. Found out that only half of the report is ready but my doctor proceeded to ask me the usual question if I had any side effects from the last chemo session. She also checked for any physical signs such as swelling in my legs and around my neck for lumps. All good so far but she did notice the my tan lines on my back. She commented that I was burnt but I replied that I diligently apply sunscreen with SPF50 when I swim. She wasn’t overly concerned and mentioned in the past that the chemo drugs can darken the skin a lot faster than a normal person. I was also advised to reapply sunscreen every 15 mins instead of the 2 hour rule as I have come to learn. However, I should return to “normal” a few months later when the drugs are out of my system.
My haemoglobin is low which is expected. Other vitals such as red blood cells are also in the low range. What I am keen to know are the tumor markers/CEA results. It is this number is that will decide if I need more treatments beyond the six cycles originally prescribed. If the number increases or decreases by more than 10%, this indicates there are active cancer cells in the body. The ideal result we are looking for is within the 10% mark. In cycle five, my CEA markers recorded 6.7. The results for cycle 6 is 6.4. A huge sigh of relief for me. My sister shared the same sentiment. My wish for not wanting to endure another two cycles has come true. The oncologist is happy as well. Let the last chemo session begin.
Made my way to the treatment room and sat down ready for the nurse to poke me again (for the last time.. yeehhaaa!). She looked at both my hands and decided to use my left. Once again, the hunt for a good vein commences. Tap, tap, tap the hand to wake the veins and successfully finds one. Sprays a numbing agent before she inserts the needle. In all honesty, the numbing agent doesn’t work for me. I can still feel the pain when she sticks the needle in. First prod – ouch! Waits a few seconds before she pushes the needle a little more and I could feel my vein being enlarged (yes it did hurt). Low and behold, she wasn’t done and poked a little further in to make sure she gets the needle all the way in (ouch again!). Overall, I am delighted that she managed to find a vein within the first try.
Got my book ready to keep me company for the next several hours. Reading a police mystery this time called “The Ritual Bath” by Faye Kellerman. I wasn’t sure if it was the drug or waking up early that made me feel drowsy into an hour of the treatment. I didn’t fight the feeling. Closed my book and closed my eyes. It only felt like a few minutes when I dozed off but when looked at my watch, I woke up just a few minutes just as the last few millilitres of drugs was administered. I developed a hiccup not longer as soon as I woke up. I found it very odd. The nurses gave me some water but the hiccup persisted. The senior nurse did mention that hiccups could occur because of the drugs. This is the first time this has happened. As I have shared in my other posts, there is always something new crops up in each cycle. So, the hiccup was my last surprise.
What is the next step? Well, I have to do a PET Scan in 4 weeks time to check if the tumor has reduced and any further signs of cancer still visible. In the meantime, I will use the next few weeks to rest and spend sometime researching on my reward – another vacation! I so deserve it!! I was toying an Asian country like Japan but I am more inclined to visit the Middle East & North Africa – Israel, Jordan and Morocco. Egypt would be a great place to see but given the political unrest, I have to strike it off the list.
Despite not feeling one 100 percent well right now, I wish I could show a dancing emoticon here in this post to illustrate how I am happy not to be poked again for a very long time.