St. John’s, Newfoundland – A view of the harbour taken through our hotel room window . God willing we will be back for another visit.
On the same day as my husband had his CT scan, my sister-in-law had her surgery. It’s been a crazy mixed up world since that day and in the craziness the amazing news that my husband got was diminished. It’s hard to appreciate what he was told by the Oncologist when his sister is sedated and intubated at the hospital.
What my husband was told was remarkable. The Oncologist had been somewhat guarded in our meeting on the 21st of October, qualifying his statements necessarily, advising that he wanted to have a peer review and further consultation on the CT film. He telephoned us that Thursday to tell us that his original impressions were supported by his peers. Although some areas of my husband’s lungs are still obscured by pleural effusion, those areas that are clear – ARE clear. The nodules were no longer in evidence in the lungs and the location of the mother tumor, where visible on the CT film, appeared clear as well. The bony lesions are healing. The Oncologist was very pleased to relay this information stating it was one of the best results from chemotherapy he has seen.
What does this mean for the future? Two medical tests are set within the next week; another CT scan then a couple of days later a pulmonary function test. In the interim my husband has been prescribed antibiotics as well as prednisone to help improve his physical health. We have also heard from a separate medical agency that administers a bone infusion and hope to have this treatment started in the next week or so. Regardless of what the next CT scan shows it sounds like there is more chemotherapy planned for the second week of November. How many sessions will be determined based on the results of the two tests I imagine.
This excellent news has started to register with my husband who is cautiously optimistic, however, the situation with his sister has definitely cast a pall over what should be an exceptionally joyous outcome. The worry and fear has created stress and tension within the immediate members of the family. Where there should be cohesion there is friction and it affects all of us. We need her back and we need it soon.
Yesterday we went to the dentist. Our Oncologist had requested a dental check up as part of the ongoing treatment plan for my husband’s cancer. My husband’s bones are quite thin, brittle and fragile as a result of the bone cancer and the subsequent radiation. He’s already had an injection of a bone strengthening agent which he will get every six months. The Oncologist has also recommended a bone “infusion” as part of my husband’s treatment. This will be administered at home through the use of a drip.
Prior to commencing the therapy my husband required a dental inspection to ensure that all is well. One of the potential side effects of the drug can be osteonecrosis of the jaw, which is quite painful as healthy bone tissue in the jaw dies. Needless to say, this side effect can cause the patient all sorts of grief. The treatment cannot commence without a dental inspection to ensure that there are no major issues with the patient related to the teeth and jaw.
When I had made the appointment I had advised the dentist that my husband was on a blood thinner as part of the cancer treatment. This was important and meant that they deferred cleaning his teeth. When we attended the dentist’s office we went through all the medications that my husband is presently on, after which they did some x-rays and an inspection. He passed with flying colors. We also talked about thrush and bacteria in the mouth. The dentist and the dental technician gave us some great tips on how to prevent mouth sores and keep thrush at bay. We left with a prescription for a mouth wash in the event he develops mouth sores. I will hold on to the script and hopefully won’t have to get it filled.
I think the dental appointment was very important – regardless of whether he takes the infusion or not. It helps to know that your teeth, jaw, etc., are in good shape and that you have no issues brewing there. So I think it was a good thing, however, I do have questions about the “infusion” and what that means. He’s getting an injection already for his bone density, what will the “infusion” do, does he need both? What’s the difference? Are there any side effects to the infusion? What does it do in the body? What is the timing for it? I want his chemo to have optimal effect and not make the body work twice as hard at processing another treatment at the same time.
We see the Oncologist next week – lucky guy – so many questions, so much to learn ..
So last night we had a conversation about the upcoming chemo treatment. It has been weighing heavy on his mind since he got the blood clot. His leg is still very swollen and we know that it will take upwards of two months before it is back to normal. We realize that he will remain on the injections long after that. We decided to talk to the Oncologist about the risks of having chemo with his circulation impeded by such a large clot. The Oncologist assured us that many cancer patients end up with blood clots and are able to continue with their treatments. Despite his assurances we decided to postpone the chemo treatment for one week. His Oncologist was absolutely fine with this. I think the doctor recognized that my husband was feeling quite “beat up” by the events that occurred after the last treatment. The delay is more of an opportunity for my husband to rebound and get back a semblance of wellbeing before we go in for round three and knock him down again.
So we left the hospital with the understanding that the Oncologist would reschedule the chemo treatment and that he would also be requisitioning a CT scan after the next round of chemo to see how things were going. Indeed a couple of hours later we received a call from the hospital setting up the alternate arrangements and faxing through an order for blood work to our local lab. So that’s all arranged and taken care of and it is truly a relief.
Here’s my thoughts on all of this. No doubt about it, our bodies are quite miraculous, we regenerate and heal in ways beyond comprehension or explanation. But everything has a limit. In the last 10 days my poor husband has started on medication for thrush as well as a blood clot. This is enough for the body to process right now. It felt like we could be going into overload if we threw the chemo in there as well. It seems better to allow his system to focus on remedying those two new challenges before we literally blasted it with the chemo. So we opted for the week, breathed a big sigh of relief and came home to have a nap since the worry preceding this appointment had left us with very little in the tank.
I want to share an excerpt from and article I found online while researching blood clots, it’s from the UK and was written after the untimely death of an actress. It says: “Doctors are increasingly realising that many cancer patients do not die from the cancer itself but from clots that may have been preventable. Shocking figures from the charity Lifeblood show that for every seven cancer patients who die in hospital, one will succumb not to the disease itself, but to pulmonary embolism, one of the main causes of death linked to blood clots. … Lifeblood is campaigning for better education within the medical profession about the connection between cancer and clots.” (Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2385171/Sophiya-Haque-Why-cancer-patients-needlessly-dying-blood-clots.html#ixzz3E52uA8kH retrieved Sept. 22, 2014.)
With cancer there are so many threats out there. It is very important to understand what you are dealing with, but it is hard to learn and comprehend an unfamiliar subject when you’re stressed out of your mind!