The question is to Oral Chemo or not Oral Chemo
I know, I know. It has been a long, long while since I updated my blog. I am not going to give any excuses either. Since my last chemo in October 2011, I have kept myself busy looking for work. Plus I took another short break to visit my homeland of Australia.
Anyway, coming back on to chemo or not chemo. I have gone for a regular check up – 6 weeks to be exact. In the last blood test just before Christmas, my liver was good. I always look out for the red numbers in the report. They show if I am below or above the normal range for various elements. The December blood test was a little more colorful this time. There were at least half-dozen indicators glowing in red. But my oncologist reviewed that the key elements are my liver, my haemoglobin, white and red blood count cells. Not forgetting the cancer (CEA) markers. Liver was good but the haemoglobin, white and red blood count cells are still below the normal range. The doctor mentioned that my white blood cells may not recover to the normal range for the pure simple reason of past radiation treatment coupled with chemo. Basically my body has taken a good beating.
My CEA marker for Dec crept up to 30. I was a little alarmed but I stayed calm. The doctor did ask if I was feeling under the weather in the week leading up to the appointment. I didn’t have any major symptoms like cramps or flu. I did have diarrhoea but nothing serious. Believe it or not having the tummy runs does spike up the CEA markers. l learnt something new. Even though my markers increased again, it was still too soon for any next steps in terms of treatment.
Last Friday, 3 February it was my second follow-up post chemo. This follow-up was a little unconventional. The nurse from the pathology lab took an extra vial of blood. My oncologist rushed into the treatment room explaining that the extra vial will be tested on a separate machine. The lab introduced a new machine and the readings for CEA Markers plus Cancer Antigens 19.9 is vastly different. This is a major concern for my oncologist because she is not able to decide if her patients need further or not. The “discrepancy” was discovered through another patient. I am so happy that she found out about this soon enough. I hate to think that patient’s having to continue chemo unnecessarily.
The blood tests took longer this time round. I zoomed in on how my cancer markers were performing. I got a real shock when the CEA doubled from 6 weeks ago. The doctor asked the same question if I had any symptoms. She reminded me again not to focus on the number. If the trend is going up, then it just indicates that the embryonic cancer cells are active once again. Since that I pose no symptoms, she would not recommend any treatment. I did ask about oral chemo. I recall from earlier consultation that there was an oral chemotherapy yet to be introduced in Singapore. She shared the oral chemo drug is now available. From the trial, the drug has 40% to 50% success of keeping the cancer cells from producing. That is not too bad of success rate. Of course with oral chemo, you would need to take several tablets per day everyday for up to 4 weeks. Then a 2 week break and then you resume. The beauty of the oral chemo is side effects are much less severe in comparison to traditional intravenous chemo. diarrhoea and low white cell blood counts are the reported side effects.
So the question now is to whether switch to oral chemo. I am trying alternative treatment via diet and exercise to bring down the markers. At this stage it is good to know that I have the oral chemo available. Furthermore, at least I don’t have to spend hours at the clinic and not be sick for 1 week. I am going to do my own research on this oral chemo.
Time to wrap up this post. Till next post.