I made it through and it wasn’t bad. The day was long — I was at the hospital at 9 a.m. and didn’t leave until 5:30 p.m. — but it was long with waiting, not long with treatment. I started with blood tests, then signed in at the chemo ward before going up to the 18th floor where I would see my nurse and one of my oncologists for a physical. In the exam room, I met another woman on the AMG 386/temsirolimus trial. Also ovarian, she’s been enrolled since April. It’s keeping her cancer stable, but she’s had two episodes of pleural effusion (water between the lungs and the lining of the chest cavity) that have had to be drained with a chest tube. Oh, it’s awful, she said, I can’t sing or dance. I can never catch my breath. But it’s just an illness. Cancer. It’s not such a big deal. Like diabetes, you just have to control it. She’s been in treatment for five years. This is her second trial. Her original prognosis was four months. And right now, her main complaint is that she can’t sing or dance as she’d like to.
She told me to start juicing beets, carrots, celery, and something green every morning. That since she started doing that, her blood counts have been fine. I think I’ll try to track down a cheap (or free, if anyone has one kicking around they don’t use) juicer and start. My blood counts, as my nurse put it, are always kind of low. Lower than they would like, but since I’ve had my counts monitored for so long now — both on and off treatment — they know my natural state is constantly borderline-low. Fortunately blood counts aren’t a big factor in deciding whether I can get chemo or not since targeted therapies like the one I’m on don’t affect the immune system as much as traditional chemo. Biggest worry is low platelets or anemia, but my white blood cells and neutrophils should remain pretty untouched (which is good, because I really don’t have many of them).
As far as side effects are concerned, there aren’t many to speak of (yet). Yesterday, I didn’t notice anything during the first infusion of the AMG. I received Benadryl before the temsirolimus and had my normal Benadryl side effects — slight nausea, sensitivity to noise, stream-of-consciousness rambling (more so than usual). I slept through the temsirolimus infusion and felt pretty normal, though a bit tired at the end of it all, and my nerve endings were buzzing. My whole body, especially my feet and hands and face, felt like there was a low electrical current running through it. There were a couple hours where everything smelled really strong. My nose felt assaulted. Water tasted terrible, so I downed iced green tea with lemon that I had sitting in the fridge. I don’t feel any nausea, but I also don’t feel like eating.
I have to drop in to the hospital tomorrow afternoon for blood tests and a quick survey of any side effects I may have. Then I’m good until next Friday. I think I’ll ride my bike on chemo days — I’m clear-headed enough by the time everything is finished that I would be comfortable riding, and I can get there in half the time it takes by transit or car. And I want to remain active as long as edema or lung problems aren’t an issue. Plus another cancer blogger wrote about how he rode his bike to and from radiation and chemo, and that’s pretty impressive and I want to be able to say I did it, too.