Monday 8 October 2012

Cycle 1 Day 1 ..and things can only get better.....

Chemo day today - the start of Steve's second regime of treatment since he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in June 2009.  The first regime was a drug trial - a combination of Velcade and Cisplatin - which probably kept his condition more or less stable for three years.  Today he has started on a combination of pemetrexed (aka Alimta) and carboplatin (another platinum based drug, but with fewer and less severe side effects compared to cisplatin). One dose of each, once every 21 days, for six cycles.

The preparation started on Friday, when he had bloods taken at the GP surgery; small samples put in different coloured phials depending on the test requested.  Yesterday, he started taking steroids (Dextamethasone) twice a day with more this morning, before chemo which was due to start at 11 am.

We had psyched ourselves up ready for this.  However, when Steve phoned the hospital to check that the blood tests were OK, he was told that one blood was missing (we assume because it was put in the wrong coloured phial).  He would have to go into hospital to have more bloods taken first thing, come home, then go back again for his chemo appointment between 1.00 and 1.30 pm.  Good job we don't live too far away!

Just as we were leaving the house to go back to hospital, the phone rang.  It was one of the lung nurses phoning to see how he was feeling after his first chemo session. According to her notes, he was due to start treatment last week.  Ho hum.  She will ring back....

We played hunt the parking space on arrival at the hospital and eventually found one at the far end of the site.  By then, the car park office (where we were to pick up a ticket which allows cancer patients free parking) was closed, so we had to take a chance, leave the covering letter/instructions on the dashboard and hope for the best!

The Day Centre which had been quiet when Steve had been there earlier in the day was bursting at the seams by the time we arrived at 1.30.  Short-staffed, Steve was told he was number five in the queue waiting for treatment.  Luckily we had come prepared for a long wait, so just sat patiently as the minutes and hours ticked by. At long last, a nurse appeared at 3.15 to give Steve his pre-meds - more of the steroid Dextamethasone plus Ondansetron anti-sickness given intravenously, followed by a saline flush.  Then the pharmacist arrived and went through the anti-sickness medication regime timetable; three different drugs at different times of the day over periods of two, three and five days (longer if necessary).  He will be ratting soon, but hopefully not sick...

Chemo eventually started at 3.35, with 10 minutes of pemetrexed followed by a saline flush.  Then a 30 minute break, followed by 60 minutes of carboplatin and a last saline flush.  Hurrah!

The last thing before leaving was to go through the "red book" where everything is recorded, plus other odds and ends to help people on chemo, all in a neat little plastic zipped folder, just like the ones our kids took to school :-) And that was it....home in the rush hour, rather later than expected.

Ah well, after a start like that, things can only get better - can't they?  

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