It's 4:00am on the morning of my chemo marathon and I'm happily dealing with a side effect - sleeping problems - by blogging. The culprit in this case is a drug which I took last night called dexamethasone - it's a steroid used to augment the "anti-nausea queen" ondansetron - and is also an anti-inflammatory. They both work extremely well in my case.
Yesterday's session had me feeling like a double-ended Popsicle - ice on the hands - stick in the middle - ice on the feet. However, as a result of joking about it with one of my nurses, I learned a new trick. The same theory of reducing the amount of chemo to the peripheries sometimes works in the mouth. So, if you suck on ice chips or a very cold beverage during your infusion - it reduces the flow of chemo to your saliva glands - which, next to your urinary tract, are the favorite places of escape. The drugs seek out all fast reproducing cells so after the cancer itself, the inside passage of your mouth, throat and stomach are key targets. This accounts for patients experiencing mouth sores, taste changes etc.
I had a visit from the Cancer Centre's Clinical Dietitian and she presented me with a newly published patient information pamphlet on the Nutritional Management of Common Food Nutrients. It's a very useful guide - more on this later...thanks Victoria!
I started my day with the chemo enhancing supplement - IP6 & Inositol - and will follow through with a green juice - and then a high protein smoothie. I've packed a picnic of small munchies - power bars, thermos of green tea with ginger, fruit, crackers, and two small sandwiches jammed with goodies including broccoli sprouts which contain 100 times the value of broccoli itself as per Dr. Richard Beliveau. ( Foods That Fight Cancer: Preventing Cancer through Diet )
The "chemo of the day" today is carboplatin - called the workhorse of ovarian cancer treatment. I am carboplatin-sensitive, meaning that it does work for me, but I am also allergic ( see Allergic Reactions) to the drug. As a result, they have developed a special protocol involving interrupting an extremely slow infusion many times with anti-allergy meds. Instead of the infusion taking a couple hours, it requires 7 - 8 hours - and most times (happily) with only minor problems.
A few years ago, gynecological oncology surgeons performing ovarian cancer surgery, started experimenting with a procedure whereby upon completion and before suturing you up, they would flood your abdomen with carboplatin...not just carboplatin - warmed carboplatin. They would rock you side to side to make sure that the drug was fully dispersed and then commence suturing. The theory behind this was to immediately treat any escaped cancer cells as well as discovering that heated chemo was more powerful than cold. This post-surgical procedure became known as "shake and bake". As my initial surgery was performed before the advent of this technique, I took the theory one step further and bring a heating pad with me to carboplatin infusions. I wrap the pad over the IV line entering my arm and can at least accomplish the "baking" part!
Yesterday's high point was not one, but three people Ringing the Bell - please read the section on the website under Hope & Healing. What a joy!
On your mark, get set, I'm off!