You know it’s the end of summer when you hit the road at 6:00 am and it is dark. This is just too early to be heading out for anything!
We were heading out to Virginia Beach to the hospital – two procedures to be done before my chemo treatments can begin – and I was hoping that starting out so early would mean that I would be first in line for the OR? Probably not, but one can hope! 🙂 It was nice to travel that early, once our eyelids were propped open – not much traffic, and you could almost feel the silence and the calm start to the day. Prayed on the way, watching it get lighter and lighter, that God would keep the roads clear of bad traffic, and that there wouldn’t be a back up at the high rise bridge – and both those prayers were answered.
Checking in at the hospital was quiet and calm at this hour – now 7:30 am – not many folks there yet, waiting rooms empty except for staff – so no waiting in line – got registered, and interesting – at least at Leigh Hospital – they now have a tracking system, so whoever is waiting for you can tell up on a computer monitor in the waiting room can tell exactly where you are in the progress of your visit – all color coded – I was not on the ‘waiting’ end, but I like the idea of being able to know somewhat what is going on.
Was taken back to be prepped for surgery – and of course my first request was for a blanket, being the ‘always-cold’ person – and lo and behold, they now have hospital gowns with ports in them that can be hooked up to warm air – and you can control how warm and how much fan! Wonder of wonders. I put on the gown, and realized it was a ‘one size fits all’ and it was a tad large – down to my feet and over my hands large, but small price for warmth. However, once Lucian got it hooked up and running, I felt like a hot air balloon about to take off – the gown had two layers and all the air went in between and blew that gown right up. I must have been quite the sight…lol! Once we moved it to a lower port and turned the fan down, it was nice!
Met the anesthesiologist and he explained what he would do, then the surgeon came in with a quick recap – first the port on whichever side had the best vein, then the biopsy. I even got to meet the nurses who would be in surgery too – kind of nice to see the people who would be helping me! A nurse started the IV, and told me that’s how they would put me to sleep – and that all would be well. I remember part of the trip to the OR, and moving over to the table – and then I was waking up in the recovery room, and about an hour later, Lucian was taking us home!
Although the reasons for the hospital visit were not the greatest, all the staff people, the RNs, Doctors, and the support staff were all very upbeat and kind to me – for the ugly reason I was there, they made it a pleasant experience – and the trip home was filled with thanking God that we are one step closer to beating this thing one more time…..
This was supposed to be the cherry on top of the whipped cream – the one test that would tell me that once again, cancer had been beat back – and that I had won this round. Interesting to me that the Scanner is housed in what amounts to a semi–trailer – complete with little elevator to get you inside. Inside is very cramped, but everyone is so nice, and there’s lots of joking around while they prepare the nice radioactive sugar to put in you that tells the tale.
The scan showed that not only was the cancer not gone, it was back in new and different places – not at all the news I wanted to hear! My first thought was…..ok….what do we do now? What gets done when the ‘go-to’ immunological antibody that had always worked before – fails? Is there a ‘plan B’?
After the initial shock – I was all over the internet, and back to the forums of people in my same boat – battling this cancer – non-hodgkins lymphoma. I got some good answers and lots of leads for reading – so I was ready to go to the appointment with my oncologist and the Nurse Practitioner. Of course, they knew that I already knew what the test had revealed – so it was on to solutions.
Seems the next line of defense was to use a different immunological antibody and combine it with a chemo drug – to attack and hopefully defeat the cancer and put me back in remission. The new immunological antibody is called – are you ready for this? – Obinutuzumab – what a mouthful! But, there is a brand name for this and it is called Gazyva. The chemo drug to be added was Bendamustine – not quite as much a mouthful – but it also has a brand name – Treanda. So – the tentative plan is to do 6 rounds of this combination of antibodies and chemo, then another PET/CT scan to see if it has done the job!
Good news is that this combo has been very successful in treating folks like me who had the previous treatment fail – so yay! Bad news is – the previous treatment was down to an 8 minute injection – but the new treatment was back to all day in the infusion room hooked up to the IV. But, that’s ok – it’s the results that matter – so onward and upward. Before we could start – the doc wanted a new CAT scan to see if there are more bad guys lurking anywhere else in my body, and a biopsy of one of the lymph nodes to make sure the cancer hasn’t turned itself into some other kind (yup – it happens!), and putting in a medi-port – because my veins are too small to take the repeated long infusions.