Last Sunday morning there was a man in church who was visiting from Dunedin. We knew of him through our sister-in-law who is a nurse at the hospice where this man, Tim, is a doctor. Tim has exactly the same condition as I have and has also had the radio-active spheres inserted in his liver. He has a lively faith too and we went to lunch together to compare notes. He is a few months ahead of me and has just completed his round of chemo. Tim’s metastases in the liver have also shown marked decrease, as mine have, and he looks pretty good. We were able to discuss numerous things and it was helpful having a specialist’s inside and personal knowledge of the condition. Bronwen and I were greatly encouraged by their visit and will maintain contact with them as fellow travellers on the cancer trail.
Monthly Archives: March 2009
My appointment for chemo finally went ahead last Friday but not before more ups and downs. The previous week I was unable to have it because my platelets were under 75. I had another blood test on the following Wednesday and while the platelets had recovered, my white cell count and my neutrafils were down. (Neutrafils affect the bodies ability to fight infections) Fortunately, by Friday the neutrafils had scraped their way to the benchmark and I was able to have my appointment. This was my final one in Christchurch. The next one will be in Nelson at the hospital there following our move to Nelson on 1 April.
Although I missed out on chemo last week I did get the results of the last CT scan and they showed continued reductions in the metastases they are monitoring. The scans only take a cross-section of the tumours so we assume the depth is also reducing as well as the width and length.Â
The sizes in March, compared with the sizes in February are as follows:
Liver segment 2: (5 Feb 09) 18mm x 10mm; Â (3 Mar 09) 18mm x 9mm
Liver segment 4A: (5/2/09) 16mm x 10mm; Â (3/3/09) 13mm x 10mm
Liver segment 5: (5/2/09) 7mm x 7mm; (3/3/09) 7mm x 6mm
Liver segment 6: (5/2/09) 7mm x 6mm; (3/3/09) 5 ?? [seems to be an incomplete reading – DD]
If the cross-sectional area is diminishing, I am hopeful the cubic measurement is also reducing proportionately. I have been given no indication about what is happening to the primary tumour. The assumption is that it will diminish along with the Oncologist’s main concern – the secondaries in the liver. I am told the primary growth will only be dealt with if it obstructs or causes other problems.
I was supposed to have chemo again last Friday but once again my platelets were too low (69 where minimum is 75). I had a feeling this might happen as I’d had a couple of very minor nose bleeds during the week and that is usually a sign. It was frustrating having to turn around and drive back to Hanmer, only to return to Christchurch this coming Friday instead. Each time we go to Chrischurch we schedule other appointments to make the most of our time there so that was one compensation.
This postponement will mean that the chemo on 20th March will be the last in Christchurch. The next will be in Nelson after our move there on 1st April. It also means that the week of our move will not be immediately after a treatment session which would make things more tiring.
All in all then, a useful outcome. The Lord governs our times and seasons and all delays have to pass through His schedule and work out in His and our best interests in the long run.
In spite of the disastrous surgical procedure to insert a porta-cath into my chest at the start of my treatment regime, I am enjoying not having to have PICC-line attached to my arm. That would require weekly dressing and would impede a lot of normal activity, as well as be a constant reminder that ‘I am sick’! The porta-cath sits inside my chest just under my left shoulder and apart from a lump, enables me to go swimming and carry on a normal active life.
To prove I can still enjoy life, here is a picture of our grandson Abraham and I in the children’s pool at the Hanmer Springs Hot pools. He is standing on my hands about to be propelled into a back flip. He is a water baby and loves the pools. Sorry, you can’t see the porta-cath lump in this view, but I still have my hair!
At my last appointment with the Oncologist I enquired about the results of the CEA (Carcinoembryonic antigen)Â tests. Taken at the time of my blood tests, this measures a protein in the blood that is called aÂ tumour marker. I was told that on their own they do not mean a lot but give an indication of what is happening to tumours within the body. Often the first indication some people have that they have cancer is an increase in the marker count. The normal count is between 0 and 2.5, although some smokers and heavy drinkers can have a level of 5 without having cancer.Â
When I began treatment my cancer marker level was 45. At the last blood test it had dropped to 5. I asked the Oncologist if that meant I would become a centenarian but she assured me that the best it indicates is that the treatment may have bought me more time.
I am grateful for all mercies, and to me that is a good one.