I was discharged from Middlemore Hospital after a stay of 4 and a half weeks. The surgery and stay took a lot of energy out of me. I remembered to be completely drained of energy even after a shower. I was underweight, my muscle tone was nearly non-existent, and just doing simple things at home was such a struggle.
But it was a time of looking forward to the next stages of my recovery and treatment. The immediate next step was to await the letter from the Auckland Hospital Oncology Department.
A few days later, the letter from Auckland Oncology arrived and I was booked in for the initial assessment for chemotherapy treatment. The appointment date was about four weeks away. It felt like a long way away because I was hoping to be enrolled soon after my discharge from Middlemore.
Praise the Lord however, that I received a telephone call from Auckland Oncology to advise me that my assessment appointment had been brought forward several weeks and I was able to see them next week. Indeed God works in mysterious ways.
At the appointment, the Registrar confirmed that I had been accepted for chemotherapy treatment. Radiation therapy had earlier been ruled out bec
ause of the location of the tumour mass that did not allow the tumour to remain static in a single location.
The chemotherapy treatment regime that was prescribed to me was called XELOX — which stood for the two cancer drugs called Xeloda and Oxaliplatin.
The cycles would be three weekly, with treatment in the first two weeks and rest in the third week.
Along the way, I would have to have a CT scan to see how the tumour had shrunk, so that the surgeons can assess whether I was ready for the procedure to remove the shrunken tumour.
On the first day of the three weekly cycle, I was to be given the infusion of Oxaliplatin via a drip, taking about 3 to 4 hours in total. Off all the side effects from Oxaliplatin, the one that I took notice of most is peripheral neuropathy which basically meant the numbing of the extreme nerve endings such as a the finger tips and the mouth.
But I want make special mention of the drug Xeloda or Capecitabine as it is known by its generic name. I have to take three tablets of Capecitabine every 12 hours with food.
What’s amazing with the Capecitabine is that it is like any normal drug and it only changed into the cancer drug Fluroacil when it reached cancer cells. The fluoroacil then changes the DNA of the cancer cells, stopping them growing and killing them.
Because I did not have to have the cancer drug fluroacil injected directly into me like they do with the Oxaliplatin, the side effects had been minimal.
I have had a number of cycles of chemotherapy treatment now and my oncology doctor confirmed that I have been responding very well to the treatment.
The CT scan taken after the third cycle c0nfirmed that the tumour had shrunk a lot. The experts have decided to let me have eight cycles in total before having another CT scan as a confirmation to surgery to remove the shrunken tumour.
After the shrunken tumour is removed, there will be further cycles of chemotherapy to tidy up.
… to be continued….