Wednesday, January 14, 2009
So...chemo treatment #2 did not happen yesterday. I saw my onc's PA, Tara Rick, yesterday (who is pretty cool). My white blood cell count was too low--specifically my neutrophils. The actual WBC count was 2.9 (the minimum is 4.0), and my neutrophils were 0.4 (the minimum is 1.6). Neutrophils are the type of white blood cell that 'ingest' pathogens. They are sort of the 'first line defense' for your body, and if they are low, then your immune system is compromised. If my neutrophils were within a more normal range, chemo would have gone on anyway and they would have given me Neulasta, which is a granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. That's just a fancy word for 'white blood cell producing protein.' Neulasta will make my bone marrow over-produce neutrophils, and this sometimes causes bone pain. My treatment was rescheduled for Friday at 10:00 with the hopes that my counts will increase by then. They will be giving me Neulasta then (assuming my counts are adequate).
I realized that I never wrote about the different stages. I'll just go through that briefly, since I'm sure no one wants another biology lecture :)
Stage I is characterized by the presence of cancer in just one lymph node region, or just one part of a tissue or organ (remember those Reed-Sternberg cells?); for example, the presence of cells in a single node in the chest or groin, or in an organ such as the thymus or spleen.
Stage II is characterized by the presence of cancer in more than one lymph node region, but they are close to each other and on the same side of the diaphragm; using the example above, it would be more than one node in the same area.
Stage III is characterized by the presence of cancer in more than one lymph node region on different sides of the diaphragm. The cancer can also be found in organs that are near those nodes.
Stage IV is characterized by the presence of cancer in several areas, nodes, and/or organs, different sides of the diaphragm.
There are also 'A' and 'B' designations of the stages. 'A' means that the person has had no weight loss, drenching night sweats, or fevers. 'B' means that one or more of these symptoms are present.
I am stage IA, which is the best I could hope for given the circumstances!
I will also have another lung function test on Friday after my chemo. My onc wants to do one before each chemo cycle to see if my lungs are healthy enough to add the bleomycin. I've been trying to work on my lungs a little, but not because I want the bleo. I'm just tired of getting winded when I go up stairs. The gym looks better all the time, and I did go yesterday. Walking is boring and doesn't get my heart or respiratory rate up enough, so I am going to try a slow jog today. That is assuming that I can motivate myself to go out again in this ridiculously cold weather. I'm so sick of this crap. I'm totally moving to somewhere ON the equator when I'm done with school.
That's all I have, really. Getting myself all geared up for the Red Kool-Aid Death, Comet, and Drano infusion and then not having it happen is sort of a strange experience. I'm relieved in the way you would be relieved at putting off going to the dentist for another day. I'm pissy about it because it means I have to wait another few days, and get myself geared up all over again. Chemo is just one of those things that I just want to get over with so I can get on with my life. Stupid fricken cancer!