Friday, June 6, 2014

What is Neutropenia?

This week I completed my second cycle of chemotherapy, each cycle being 2 treatments. The treatment went smoothly and I have been recuperating up at my Aunt's schoolhouse near Collingwood. The country fresh air, relaxed atmosphere here and how beautiful it is,  nurtures my soul.

While at the hospital for treatment, I have bloodwork done each time and I did learn from the oncology nurse that I have severe neutropenia.  "Neutropenia is an abnormally low count of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that helps fight off infections, particularly those caused by bacteria and fungi." My neutrophils are at zero! So you can't go much lower that that.

If you have severe neutropenia — fewer than about 500 cells per microliter of blood — bacteria normally present in your mouth and digestive tract can cause infections. So being that I have zero cells in my blood, I am greatly at risk for infection. I will need to be extremely careful with hygiene, hand-washing, hand sanitizer and choosing to go to functions where there are larger crowds. I have been instructed to take my temperature twice a day and if my temperature is above 38F then I need to go directly to emergency. I got the message that there no messing around with this as it can be life-threatening if I have an infection that is not immediately treated.

Since I have been feeling well and have not had any signs of infection, Dr. Stevens allowed my chemotherapy to proceed despite the neutrophil levels. They will continue to monitor my bloodwork and there is a possibility I may need to have daily injections of Neupogen in addition to the Heparin shots I am already giving myself. I will see the Oncologist on June 16 and will find out the next steps in terms of how they are going to treat the Neutropenia, or whether they will just monitor me.

All things considered, I am coping with the side effects and taking each day as it comes. I am grateful for the time I am spending here at the schoolhouse. We have had walks, lunch at Lora Bay, a trip into Collingwood and patio time at the Firehall Pizza, one of our favourite places to go in town. I have been sleeping great and while I am tired, I feel ready and prepared for the next few days that I know will be difficult.

Jordan has had a busy few days, she competed at the County Track Meet last night and came in 3rd place in the High Jump. Today, Jason and Jordan left early to drive to Oshawa to the Reach for the Top Invitational Competition. Jordan came in first place on the Bars and second place on the Beam. She was also awarded a special award for "Best Free Hips" on the Bars. It is not recommended for me to be surrounded by such large crowds with my current bloodwork standing, I am sad to miss the chance to see Jordan and cheer her on. She knows and understands that I am her biggest fan and am there in spirit. I need to limit my contact where I am able to and while it is hard and I am disappointed that cancer is getting in my way, I know that it is only temporary and will be worth it in the end.

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