The Results

Today was the big day – it had become monumental in our lives and finally, finally it is over.

Yesterday my husband had his CT scan to see if the chemo he is presently on was an effective treatment.  He ended up having a full body, including head, CT scan.  He had to drink two large glasses of a mixture of apple juice, water and some type of dye prior to the scan.  The scan itself was uneventful.  The CT technician at the hospital was personable and friendly – nice guy, he’s done all of my hubby’s scans so far.  About four hours after the scan my husband’s troubles began.  He started to feel nauseous and ended up vomiting sporadically throughout the evening, overnight and into this morning.  As a result, and out of desperation, I called our GP.  It seemed cruel to take a guy who was feeling so awful to an appointment that involved driving a half hour and waiting two hours for blood work to be processed with the potential outcome of receiving bad news.  I asked the GP if I should put him through that, he’s such a nice man and deserves kindness.  Her answer was “he needs to go to this appointment.”  Okay, so be it.

My husband, me  and his nephew – who thankfully drove – set off for the hospital.   My husband did the blood work thing and then waited.  It was quite busy and we had to wait a little bit before seeing his Oncologist.  It was worth the wait.  The Oncologist did a review of the CT scan findings with us – with what we perceived to be an incredible outcome.  The nodules in his lungs appeared to have gone – this finding is qualified by the development of some pleural effusion which obscured some areas of the lung – so there could still be some cancerous nodules behind the pleural patches.  The tumor that had been identified as the primary was not visible in this CT scan.  The bony lesions appeared to be healing.  It was not all sunshine and lollipops – there are some concerns with the pleural effusion as well as the purpura and petechiae on his leg.  We left with a prescription to try and clear these up.  His chemo session for tomorrow was cancelled.  The Oncologist rescheduled us for next week when we will meet with him after he has done some consultation with his peers to develop a plan for the next stage of my husband’s treatment.

Simply put, as the Oncologist stated, “it is a very good outcome.”   Not out of the woods yet but significantly closer.  My husband will always be a cancer patient, we know that, but for right now he appears to have gained some quality time.  Thank you to the collective universe and all those sending positive thoughts his way.

My sister-in-law did well too.  The tumor they removed was larger than they anticipated.  Still her surgeon was pleased overall with how the surgery went.  She had a bit of a tough night last night due to pain, so hopefully the pain medication has been modified to address this.  In her case, there are some requirements physically before she can be released from the hospital – which is a good thing.  I suspect she will be in the hospital until Thursday at least.

Whew, this is one rollercoaster ride that has too many highs and lows.  I know that there remain a lot of unknowns and that next week may bring new information, but for now we are going to relax just a little bit.

The Doctor Visits

Family is forever.

Family is forever.

Our GP stopped by yesterday, gloved and masked since she herself has been battling a bit of a bug.  My husband is paranoid about germs, always has been – he had on his mask.  It was quite comical looking at him, the doctor and my sister-in-law after she arrived – all masked up chatting away in the living room.  I felt totally secure, after all everyone was busy inhaling their own germs, what would I need a mask for?  Anyway, the doctor stated she thought that it was time for a visit since she hadn’t seen him for a few weeks.  Really she was there to do an emotional gauge.  Monday is CT Scan day and also my sister-in-law’s surgery day – both are heavy on everyone’s mind.

I notice a significant change in my sister-in-law, the nerves are showing – she’s pushing herself pretty hard but is obviously exhausted. Somehow she’s managed to stay remarkably upbeat which I thank her for, I know she’s doing this for her brother.  He’s worried about her so I know she’s trying to reduce his anxiety by staying as positive as she can.  Ask him if he’s anxious and he’ll say no that this is just another curveball in life – but I suspect he is and it is feeding into his headaches and extreme fatigue.

The doctor was here for about 45 minutes.  One of the things we discussed was the purpura and petechiae on his left leg.  In the last day or so it was looking a lot less angry and the swelling in the calf had started to come down. The doctor wanted us to know that with his platelets dropping after chemo it was possible that it could flare up again.  We need to ensure that the skin is well hydrated and that if there are any breaks in his skin to immediately start applying an antibiotic cream twice a day.   I have a feeling we will see our GP at the house again by the end of next week.  I think she recognized how high his anxiety level was and will check in after his chemo next Wednesday.

Regardless of how everyone is feeling we decided to plan a nice roast beef dinner for his sister.  She’s been hankering for one and so no problem – that’s easy to deliver.  We will do a traditional Sunday dinner with all the fixings – even if nobody eats it the table will still look nice and the house will smell great.

We need all the positive thoughts we can get – so send them our way.

The Blood Clot – One Month Later

Have to get things flowing again.

Have to get things flowing again.

It is one month since the blood clot became part of our cancer journey.  The clot was quite sizeable so it is no surprise that it will take some time for it to dissolve – however, we had hoped that most of it would be gone by now and it is not.  My husband’s blood clot was from his ankle to his groin, as a result his left leg swelled up significantly and became quite shiny.  It is still a significant size.  The blood clot appears to be slowly dissolving, with the top of his thigh to his knee showing the most marked reduction.  The calf/shin and foot have improved marginally.  However the swelling is still very apparent, for example, if he crosses his ankles or his legs the indentation that results to his left leg makes it look deformed.  Needless to say I am relentless in making sure he doesn’t cross anything!

On his left leg the purpura and petechiae are still quite vivid.  There has not been a significant change in their appearance.  The front of his shin is covered from knee to ankle, and the petechiae has spread to the back of his heel.  This is the only area that it has spread to since it developed, and I wonder if this is a result of putting on/taking off his shoe on that foot.  We had been told that any bumps, pressure or knocks to his skin can result in more discoloration and purpura.  (The petechiae is rash-like in appearance whereas the purpura present as purple spots under the skin.)   His skin on the left shin and foot remains quite tender to touch.

Once again, it appears that we are playing the waiting game for these ailments to go away.  The blood clot seems to be taking its time, and any reading I’ve done on the purpura/petechiae suggests that it will go away somewhere within 6 to 8 weeks.  Just seems to be one thing after another.

The Rash

The Cottage - A typical Thanksgiving weekend.

The Cottage – A typical Thanksgiving weekend.

This week we have been dealing with a rash on my husband’s left leg and today is the third day.  As a result of some telephone calls and a report made by the visiting nurse, we heard from the doctor late yesterday – Thursday.  The doctor advised us that she wanted to get some blood work done as soon as possible to see how his platelets were doing.  Platelets help the blood clot.  So this morning we went to the laboratory at our local hospital and had some blood drawn.  Our GP was concerned enough that she had requested we go to the lab at the hospital since she would get a report back the same day.

At this point in his chemo cycle, my husband is in his “low” phase; the chemo has gone through and demolished his cells and his body now is trying to replenish.  Alongside this he has the issue of his blood clot and continues to take a daily Fragmin® injection. The rash is an additional irritant in the whole cycle.  It turns out that the rash on my husband’s leg is two different things and is related to his low platelets.  He has petechiae – a small red rash under the skin, as well as purpura which is the larger purplish splotches on his leg.  This means that he is leaking blood under the skin.  In consultation with our Oncologist, our GP instructed us to reduce his dosage of the blood thinner from a “full” dose to a “three quarter” dose – which is normal procedure after about a month on the blood thinner.  Fortunately, we recently requested a prescription that would allow us to draw up our own injections so a dosage reduction was not a problem from an administration perspective.  We were also able to discuss the needle size with the Pharmacist and, as a result, we are now using a smaller and finer needle for the injection – which is far less painful.  Commencing today we used the lower dosage for his Fragmin® injection and hope that this will help improve his comfort level.

Current status is that the rash is quite angry looking on his leg.  It is tender and painful to touch and has had an impact on his mobility.  Not too sure how long we will have to deal with this issue.  Needless to say, it hasn’t been a stellar day for my husband.  He has a headache and I suspect it is as a result of the stress of worrying about what is going on with his leg, wondering what the rash might be and if it is related to the blood clot, the discomfort associated with any type of physical movement, and all the while feeling the extreme fatigue which accompanies the “low” point in any chemo cycle.

We head into the Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada and it will be quite different for us this year.  It will likely be a quiet almost solitary event – we do have a small family gathering planned but it won’t be at our house, it certainly won’t be at the family cottage, and the reality is that we don’t know if he will even attend.  It’s a hard road for an extreme extrovert.  If only he were a bit more of a computer techie – we could Skype everyone in around the dinner table and have a virtual family meal together!