You know that feeling, the Sunday Night Fear? It descends upon sunset when the carefree weekend is coming to a close and the gloom and reality of what the working week entails begins to present it’s ugly head in the form of Monday morning? Throw in a few drinks over the weekend and that ‘fear’ escalates to the next level. Well despite not having worked for half a year since being diagnosed or participated in any wild drinking sessions for aaaaages, that dreadful feeling still lurks within me as Monday is my chemo day and with that brings a long day in the chair and a sometimes unpredictable week ahead.
For those of you that are unaware of the process, all cancer patients must have a complete blood count test taken day before each chemo treatment. This is to ensure that the immune system and body is strong enough to handle another dose. Chemotherapy drugs can stop your bone marrow producing enough red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, so having this blood count determines whether it is safe enough to proceed with treatment.
With this in mind, yesterday was the first set of alarm bells that went off for my blood count results that came through from my Sunday morning test that I have each week. My liver function results were through the roof and my neutrophils (white blood cells that are first responders to infection that can gobble up bacteria, fungi, and germs) were really low and well below the acceptable level to proceed with chemo. The chemo nurse told us to go home and come back in a week as my body and immune system is too weak to handle another hit. To be honest, I’d been waiting for this moment to happen as it’s quite common for these kind of set backs to take place during chemo treatment, which is no surprise considering how knocked about and vulnerable chemo makes you.
I’ve suffered from a running nose, a razor blade sore throat and mouth ulcers all weekend so yep, it was pretty obvious that my poor immune system was stuck on struggle street with a flat.
I had an ultrasound about 2 weeks ago as my liver function was high, but the results had plateaued out again so my oncologist wasn’t concerned saying that the mild fatty infiltration was common for someone being pumped with this amount of chemo. So yesterday when I saw that my high liver function had nearly doubled from last week, I was quite worried as there’s no way I want to jeopardise my liver for a round of chemo. I can happily wait another week if need be.
Even though I was concern about my liver and that I had been told to head home to resume treatment next week, I had the nurse and registrar contact my oncologist as per her request in the instance of treatment being stopped.
After hours waiting for her to finish a seminar and review my case, I was told to have another blood test to see if perhaps my bloods have improved within 24 hrs. I wasn’t hopeful as my body felt pretty run down. Hours later results showed that the levels were the same as yesterday. Despite this, my oncologist advised that I proceed with chemo anyway. Tough bitch, I tell you! She wasn’t concerned with the high liver function, but more so with the low white blood cells. In order to proceed with chemo, it means that for the next four days post treatment I’ll need to give myself daily injections of Filgrastim which will stimulate my immune system by boosting the production of neutrophils (white blood cells) and also increase my chance of keeping on track with Monday chemo sessions.
I’m pretty lucky considering this is my 16th week of chemo and my body has kept strong enough up until now as some poor patients have a terrible time keeping on track with treatments, needing longer breaks between sessions in order to recuperate. Perhaps I’ve made it up to here so far without any real obstacles a result of my two acupuncture sessions each week where we work on stimulating neutrophils, and also from consuming nutrient dense foods and supplements in an attempt to keep as healthy as possible? Either way, I’m running with it as it at least makes me feel like I’m contributing and controlling the situation in some way.
With only 4 weeks to go, the light at the end of the tunnel is shining bloody bright and the Sunday Night Fear will soon be a thing of the past (I guess until I start working again). With the chemo finish line so close, I’m now feeling excited for Monday sessions and if it means 4 daily injections every week for the next month, then so be it.