Bald 'n Sassy

Life is for the living. Live simply. Expect less.

Archive for the month “July, 2011”

Numero Quattro – a milestone

An active morning for me today. With a sunny day outside I was looking forward heading to the pool to swim some laps.  Each time I swim, I make it a point to swim 30 laps.  This magic number has been my minimum laps for the past 2 months.  I decided to challenge myself and increase to 40 laps.  I am so proud of myself that I did manage to squeeze in the extra 10 laps.  I could see dark clouds looming  each time I lift my head to take a breath. Moments later, the clouds starting to cry. The rain didn’t stop me from continuing with my swim.  I love swimming in the rain.  The rain drops has a soothing effect on the back.  Some may think I am little crazy in the rain.  There were 2 other swimmers who also didn’t let the rain stop them from swimming.  My arms and legs starting to ache now.

Tomorrow will be my 4th round of chemo.  This marks as milestone for me.  I would cross the quarter mark checkpoint.  When I first started this second chapter of chemo, the number 12 is a high number and that it will take 6 months to complete which sounds pretty daunting. As each day treatment passes, I can happily cross each session.

I must admit that I haven’t been doing my stress ball exercise in the last few days.  I hope tomorrow the nurses will not have a major challenge to hunt for a suitable vein.  I like to see this hunting exercise as “game” for the nurses.  I say I make it interesting each time I visit the clinic.

Ok, time to head under the covers and get some shut-eye.  I hope there is some improvement in my white blood cell count in the blood test.  Fingers and toes crossed.

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Round 3 – this time it’s for real

Gosh where has the time gone.  One week has zoomed at a blink of an eye. After the wait and see approach and taking iron tablets to address my anemia, it was time to get another blood test done to decide if I am  medically fit to go ahead with round 3.  Aside from the haemoglobin the other key indicator the oncologist is hoping to see some improvements is my white blood cell count.  I kept my fingers crossed while I waited patiently for the results.  In the meantime, I fed my tummy with a nutella and banana sandwich for breakfast.

An hour and half later, the results are back.  There was good and bad news.  First, the good news is that in 5 days, my haemoglobin level increased and fall within the “normal” category.  I was no longer anemic.  The bad news is that my white blood cell count specifically the polymorph level has not changed from last week – this is also known as leukopenia. With low white blood cell count it means that my body is not as strong to fight off any infections. So what does this mean?  My doctor said that I have 2 options.

Option 1:  go ahead with the chemo session with the same dosage but I would have to inject myself with Neupogen, is a man-made form of a protein that stimulates the growth of white blood cells in your body.

Option 2: Wait for another week with the hope that the white blood cells improve.  I did ask if I could eat or do something to help.  Unfortunately, there is very little I can do in this case.  Should I wait a little longer to do chemo, there is a possibility that I may encounter some cramps in my stomach because the cancer cells are working their way into my guts.  Not a pretty picture and nor do I want to wait and see if the pain comes back.

With no other obvious symptoms such as pain or discomfort, there wasn’t anything to prevent me from continuing with the treatment.  Since I am not keen to have any stomach cramps, I chose the first option.  I would rather have the injections.

By now my body is attuned to receive the chemo and most of the common side effects are manageable.  One of my least side effects is the nauseous feeling.  Despite the anti-nauseous medications I am given prior to each chemo session, it still lingers around for 4 to 5 days.  I hate it!  It is having the hangover feelings without the alcohol.  Somehow, I fought the feeling and survived it.

I have officially completed a quarter of my treatment.  Hooray!

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Not quite ready for Round 3

Today is my scheduled day for the 3rd round of chemo but it just didn’t happen.  The reason lies within my blood.  Yes, my blood test result is the determining factor if I my body can cope with chemo.  In my case the 2 key criteria that was the show stopper are my haemoglobin and total white cell count.

My oncologist asked if I am including red meats or other good sources of iron.  Since my last hospital visit and based on dietitian’s advice, I have kept to a low fibre diet.  Mind you I have consumed more fish and white meats like chicken and pork.  I only eat red meats maybe once in a fortnight.  I do take iron supplements on a daily basis but it seems that it is not enough.  My doctor says that I should be consuming at least 200mg of iron per day.  I just checked the over the counter iron supplement and the real dosage of iron is 18mg plus 10mg of iron in my multi vitamins .  In total I am only consuming 14% of the recommended daily intake – yikes.  Here I am thinking that other iron in the natural foods that I take should be enough.  I guess not.  This is not the first time I have been told that I am iron deficient. Hence, I self prescribed to take store-bought iron tablets.  As of today, my doctor has prescribed higher dosage of iron tablets to take over the next few days to boost my levels.  Of course the alternative is to eat more red meats like beef and liver.  Isn’t that a great reason to go out and eat a thick slice of delicious prime roast.. Ha!

As for the total white cell count, it was one particular cell called polymorphs that was particularly low.  Based on my understanding it is this polymorphs in your body that fights any infections or bacteria.  The blood test indicated that it is below the normal range.  If my doctor proceeded with the chemo, she has to administer a lower dosage of the drug which means less effective to kill the cancer cells.  It also means that I maybe more susceptible to catching infection post chemo.  The doctor strongly suggested that to postpone the treatment a few days after taking the prescribed iron tablets.

This is the first time in my chemo treatment plan where I had to wait for a few days till my body is ready.  I rather be safe and have the drug work effectively. Wednesday, 13 July is the D Day.  My body will be ready then.

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