Wow! What a day! It started bright and early registering at the Cancer Centre at 8:30 am. I was directed to Clinic B. It was a bit of a wait, where we need to enter our health status in a online kiosk to manage our symptoms. I did learn that I will have Dr. Stevens as my primary physician. He is a Hematologist but also an Oncologist. There was some initial mis-communication as I was referred prior to them realizing I would require a second biopsy to confirm my diagnosis. Hence, first I was referred to Dr. McCarron who was consulting I believe on some of my results. But Dr. Stevens will be in charge of my treatment and who will be steering my ship.
After a lengthy wait and question and answer period with the nurse, I finally met Dr. Stevens. As an aside, it is surprising to both Jason and myself that my history has been re-stated several different times to professionals at Grand River Cancer Centre. First question being, "tell us what brings you here to the Cancer Centre today." I feel as though I answer the same questions. Like don't they document that for someone? I will work on that. I should type up my history so I can just hand the whole story of life to them all ready!! (Type A I know)
Dr. Stevens, how does one describe such a positive, warm individual? He reminds me of a knowledgeable, smart Will Ferrell? And I mean that in a good way. I know you have to picture that in your head! He exudes happy and I felt instantly at ease. He had copies of all the biopsies and tests done to date and explained what each one meant, in very easy to understand lay-man's terms. He explained what my treatment regime will look like if all goes to plan. And the most important part of this post!!
I am being admitted to the 6th floor Oncology unit tonight and after an early morning CT scan, my first round 1A of Chemotherapy begins tomorrow Friday April 18, 2014. I will be having the standard Hodgkins protocol which is called ABVD chemotherapy which is delivered via intravenous. It takes about a half a day to finish one treatment.
The reason I will be an in-patient for this first round of chemo is that the out patient clinic is extremely booked up and this is the fastest way for me to begin my treatment. At this point, we are looking at approximately 6 months of chemo, given every 2 weeks. After this first treatment, it will be given as an outpatient at the cancer clinic. There is a chance it could be less or more, depending on how well my body responds and what a mid-point PET scan shows in terms of the cancer disappearing!!
I had a whole blood work up completed today and will also find out if a bone marrow biopsy is required. Since I am in an earlier stage of Hodgkins, and the cancer did not appear below my diaphragm, if my blood work continues to be in the normal ranges then I will hopefully not need a bone marrow biopsy!! Let's cross our fingers for that!! Eventually in the next few weeks, I will have a heart ultrasound and something called a MUGA scan, these will measure my heart functioning as one of the chemotherapy drugs can be hard on your heart and they want a baseline functioning record.
It was an overwhelming day, so much information to absorb. I tried to ask the questions that I had prepared but it seems like there are new ones all the time. I am keeping track of them and know that they will be answered. I was given a plethora of reading material that I will be reading over the course of the next few days/weeks.
I am grateful that the treatment is starting and that I have been told that Hodgkins is a completely cureable form of cancer. As many people have said, including the doctor today, if you have to have cancer this is one of the more preferable ones to get. Not that I always enjoy hearing that but it gives me positive information to focus on. It saddens me that I will need to be off work for an extended period of time. But in talking to one of my favourite colleagues today, "I don't have a choice." If I want to live, this is what I need to do. This pause in my life allows me to focus on healing myself, loving my family and friends and will no doubt change me and my outlook for the rest of my long life. Stay tuned!! I will update after the first treatment. While I am nervous about the side effects, those (while unpleasant annoyances) will be proof that the treatment is doing what it needs to do.
Thank you to my two best friends who took me out for lunch, laughed with me and helped me process everything that I heard today. I love you both and don't know what I would do without you in my life. Thank you again to my Secret Bunnies at school. Your kindness leaves me without words.