Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Great news and meet my new friend the Z pack

I received some great news from Dr Stevens my oncologist today. My bloodwork continues to improve and return to normal levels in almost all categories. He is so pleased that my white blood cell count is now in the normal range as well as my hemoglobin and platelets. In his words, it's quite amazing! Another test that they use is called an ESR or erythrocyte sedimentation rate test. It is often referred to as the sedimentation rate or the sed rate. An ESR blood test is usually done to check and understand the degree of inflammation in the body and is related to cancers such as lymphoma, various kinds of infections as well as autoimmune disorders and diseases. When I was first diagnosed my ESR rate was well over 60 he recalled. The normal range is between 0-20. My new ESR rate is now 4. This is often used as a "soft predictor" for lymphoma so as long as these numbers stay low, this indicates that there is most likely no inflammation in my lymph nodes, which is what we are continuing to watch for. I will see Dr Stevens again in two months for additional bloodwork and if necessary another follow-up CT scan.

Unfortunately, the downside to my visit is that I have acquired my first respiratory infection. I came down with a cold last weekend and quickly it was clear that it had migrated to my chest. I am quite wheezy, particularly in the morning and there were minor crackling sounds. He prescribed Zithromax which is used to treat many different types of respiratory infections caused by bacteria. It is 5 pills given over the course of several days, but it is fast-acting and stays in your system for around 10 days. It is likely I will need antibiotics each time I contract a cold over this first year, post-chemotherapy. One of the chemotherapy drugs in ABVD called Bleomycin can cause lung damage and make your lungs more susceptible to infection. This is the drug that is also connected to another side effects I am dealing with peripheral neuropathy of my fingers and Raynaud's disease - discoloration of fingers and toes.

I am grateful that I had the appointment with Dr Stevens this week or I would have been making a trek to our family physician instead. It was great to check-in with Dr Stevens and feel re-assured that all is going according to plan. I wasn't sure about attending the appointment at the Cancer Centre with me coughing so much but they did not want me to miss the appointment and wanted to investigate the cold. I was masked up and sanitized down. This cold has definitely reminded me that my body is continuing to recover and that I am still not 100% Michelle.

A girls getaway weekend is on my horizon. Sun, spa, massages, dinners, beach, reading and relaxation. All in the company of 3 amazing ladies whom I share great memories of highschool at GRCI. What a great way to celebrate life, soak up the sun and reconnect. Bucket list - check!

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