Tuesday, May 29, 2012

There goes lucky.

So it has been awhile since I wrote here and quite a bit has happened since then.  Use my friend google to look up any terminology I use here.  I had a PET/CT scan around February and my spleen lit up like a Christmas tree. So on to my 5th surgery, a splenectomy,  so that it  can be biopsied.  "You have cancer." is a terrifying sentence to hear from your doctor. "Your cancer is back" is even worse. It's heart breaking. It pisses you off.   It really pisses you off.  There is no known cause for this disease my oncologist has told me.   I know the cause, it's called shitty luck. 
So now into the second line of treatment. A bone marrow/stem cell transplant.   I had 2 rounds of salvage chemo called RICE.  Each letter is a name of a chemo drug not because I am Asian and we eat rice.   Each round I was admitted into the hospital to received chemo which started on a Friday and ended on Monday.   This was chemo for 3-4 days straight.  My treatment of RCHOP, first line treatment, was only one day for 6 rounds. RICE made me more nauseous.   I made a rule to myself about going to work. When I was doing RCHOP, my rule would be:

if I feel like crap - go to work. 
if I feel like shit - best to stay home

On RICE, knowing that I will be having a stem cell transplant which will require me to be in the hospital for 3-4 weeks and another couple/few weeks at home, I have to use my vacation and sick days sparingly. My rule:

If I feel like shit - go to work
If I feel like death is better - tell Ana or my mom to leave work and be my nurse. 

I have always wondered why some cancer patients say they've had enough treatment and want to call it quits. Wouldn't they want to continue fighting.   Now I know why.  RICE treatment was the first time I had felt like that.  The side effects of chemo is just terrible. If I had worst enemies, I would not wish this on them.   I would throw up before work, during work, and when I would get back home.  Just imagine the morning after a night of heavy drinking and you spin yourself around, that's the feeling of chemo induced nausea. People tell me I'm strong to be going through this and still go to work. I'm not strong, I just don't have a choice. Work keeps me busy and sane where I don't think about the worst outcome. That's at night before I go to bed or wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to bed. I close my eyes and I picture myself in a coffin. It's pretty weird and dark when I see myself in a suit and sometimes in a braves jersey with my arms folded on my chest. 

So to prepare for a stem cell transplant I have been going to the hospital almost everyday, even on weekends.  I had my 6th surgery, on a Wednesday,  to install my triple Neostar  port on my left breast to go along with my double lumen port on my right breast. The way I think about it, since I work in IT,   I'm like a computer with 5 USB ports you can connect devices to. Complications to this surgery was less than 1%.  This should have been a "wham bam thank you ma'am" type of surgery.  Since I have shitty luck, hello 1%. X-rays taken after the surgery showed I had a pneumothorax. So instead of going home to relax and get ready for mobilization chemo the next 2 days, I get admitted to the hospital. What a frustrating day. This surgery was scheduled for 10am. I wasn't in the operating room till 5:30pm so I've had nothing to eat or drink since the night before.  The next morning another x-ray was taken and the pneumothorax healed it self and I was given the go ahead to receive chemo that day. 

So I had two days of chemo and daily shots of neupogen to get my bone marrow to make millions of stem cells and release them into the bloodstream. This was done so that a machine can collect my stem cells and be used on June 13, the day of my transplant.  The neupogen shots must have really work. Normal range for white blood count is between 4-10. My white count was at 95.  This caused me to be in a ton of bone pain but my stem cell collection was a success since my oncologist wanted at least 4 million stem cells and we were able to get 11 million. 

I still have to go to the hospital to flush/clean my Neostar line but it's only an inconvenience  since I have to drive to downtown Baylor and then drive to work afterwards. But until June 5, the day I get admitted, that is all I need to do medically. 

Quite a few people has asked me if I am scared knowing that I am fixing to have a stem cell transplant. My answer is, not yet. June 4th maybe another answer. 

Machine that separates my stem cells from my blood.

My stem cells to be transplanted back into me after high dosage chemo.  This will be use to rescue my immune system.

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