We started chemo three weeks ago because the nasty little cancer that cost us our bladder [and prostate] back in November has spread to the lymph system, colonizing one of the twenty nodes they took along with the rest of our innards.
Our surgeon and our oncologist both give us good odds with the chemo, with only a one in five chance of a malignant resurgence with the chemo, compared to even odds or worse without it.
The regime consists of three weekly sessions, followed by one week off. Then retreat three more times.
The first session is the killer, a mix of two drugs. There’s an initial dose of gemcitabine hydrochloride followed with hefty infusion of cisplatin. It’s the latter drug that carries the punch in the form of three days of a deep-seated nausea, requiring another one-two chemical treatment. [For more, see this earlier post.]
The next two sessions are gemcitabine hydrochloride-only, and the worst side effect seems to be the burning session in the vein near the injection site.
As noted in our last post, the cisplatin seems to have triggered a nine-day siege of constipation, ending with a trip to the emergency room.
Our final gemcitabine hydrochloride session Tuesday went by almost without a hitch, and we’re not feeling any nausea the day after, so we may be in for a realtively pleasant two-week break before the next double whammy.
When we say “almost,” we mean some worrisome results from our last blood and urine tests led the oncologist to halve the dose of chemo.
Our platelet count was less two-thirds of the therapeutic minimum [64 versus 100, with a normal range of 140-400], and our urine showed elevated numbers for hemoglobin, protein, urobilinogen, and leucocyte esterase. But it’s the platelet count they want to see up before another double whammy.
We’re just glad we’ve got a two-week break.