Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Cancer treatment: week 14

This last week has been a very good week.  A lot of really positive things have been happening.

Although I have been feeling a little under the weather, my taste buds are working well again, my hair has started to grow a bit (at least a quarter of an inch - hmm, where should I part it?) albeit temporarily, my sore PICC line has been sorted and I got a brain scan.  And the best bit of all...I got invited to meet the Belfast Giants.

My sore PICC line 

I mentioned in my last blog about the sore PICC line I had and how I might have something called 'mechanical phlebitis' (see A mini mountain walk and another chemo delay).   Well, I got the line checked out last Friday as things hadn't improved. 

To cut along story short, the infusion services team had a look at it and they concluded that I needed the locking mechanism, which secures the line, removed from inside my arm.  They thought that was what was causing the swelling and pain.  

It was really quite sore when the nurse took the mechanism out.  She then stuck a different locking system (called a 'statlock') onto my skin which the external part of the line was clipped into.  This has helped enormously.  The swelling has subsided and the pain has gone.  What a relief.

My brain scan

I had my appointment for my brain scan to see if I had done any damage after I knocked myself out last month (see Games without Frontiers). Yes, I do have a brain, folks.  I must admit it doesn't work as well as it used to.  I blame the chemo.  'Chemo-brain' is a well known phenomenon amongst cancer patients.

I won't bore you with the details of the scan but this is the third CT scan I've had since diagnosis and I'm getting a bit blasé about them now. They don't scare me at all.  Suffice to say that I had the contrast dye injected into me, lay on the couch where the big doughnut went over my head, and I didn't swear once.   I was in and out in a jiffy.

Meeting the Belfast Giants

Anyone who knows me or has been following my blogs knows that I'm an avid fan of the Belfast Giants ice hockey team.  Now without wishing to bore the pants of anyone who couldn't care less about them or indeed [ice] hockey in general, I've written a specific piece about how I got invited to meet them and what happened when I did.  If you're interested, go to The day I met the Belfast Giants.

Chemo's back on track

My blood results have improved - not hugely but sufficiently - so I was able to get chemo this week.  

I got the new drug (Paclitaxel) yesterday.  So far it has been far gentler on me than the horrible docetaxel which they have now stopped giving me.  

Before I got the drug, I was given steroids and an infusion of anti-histamine to prevent any allergic reaction.  It made me very sleepy and I pretty much slept through the next hour and a half of the treatment.   When I woke up all the other patients had gone and I was the only one left.

I'm also not going to be on steroids as long with this new drug.   Which is nice.  I will however need to get three days of injections to stimulate my white blood cells.  Not so nice.

I'll keep you posted on how this new drug affects me.  Fingers crossed it will be much less harsh.


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  1. Hi Karen, Roy from the top of the mountain here lol. Sounds like I'm a hermit, but you know what I mean! Looks like things are improving for you which is good. Strange to understand that you're happy to get chemo, on account of improving blood! Glad to hear that the pain in your arm has gone because of the new locking mechanism. Hope it continues that way.
    One thing we have in common with our treatment is injections to help blood cells to improve. In your case white, red in mine. Try to get used to the injections, I'm not saying it gets easier - although I know a thing or two about them. For more than a year and a half, I've had to inject myself weekly, that's more than 80 injections!
    Take care Karen and keep cheerful. I'll hopefully see you at the Macmillan event next Friday.

    1. Hi Roy, so sorry for not replying before now, but at least we had a good chat on Friday. It was great to see you. Keep up the good fight yourself and stay cheerful, despite the difficulties you face xx


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