Monday, 17 December 2012

Clouds and silver linings: Chemo cycle 4 week 2

Ever since Steve started second line chemo on 8 October, we have been conscious that (if all went to plan) his treatment would include the Christmas/New Year period.  

As cycle 4 started and festive season approached, we became increasingly curious about how scans, check ups (and cycle 5 of treatment if agreed) would all be fitted in over the next couple of weeks, bearing in mind that the normal clinics would not operate over the holidays. Besides which, we wanted to make some festive arrangements of our own!

We explained our concerns when we met with the lead chemo nurse in hospital at the start of cycle 4 last Monday. We were told that Steve would receive an appointment for a scan before Christmas, and the results would be considered at his next check up which would be on 27 December. 

It seemed to us that this would be a bit tight for time with Christmas in between, knowing that it normally takes around two weeks for radiologists to assess scans. However, we were reassured that it was feasible so started making our own festive arrangements on that basis.

We were also told that if there had been a positive response to treatment and Steve was well enough, chemo session 5 would take place on 31 December.  New Years Eve. Not the best of timing, but you learn to live with things like that when fighting cancer.   

An early scan appointment was key to all these arrangements slotting neatly into place.  Liz the chemo nurse phoned last Tuesday to let us know that she had "walked" the scan request over to the radiology department to ensure that it would get booked in without delay.  We have been waiting for the scan appointment letter since then, but nothing had arrived by this morning.

Worried that the letter might have been delayed in the Christmas post and not wanting to miss his slot, Steve phoned this morning to check the date and time of his scan appointment.  It turns out that although the request has been with radiology for a week, the appointment had yet to be booked in. Doh!  However, a date was fixed there and then for his scan to take place this Thursday so - at last - the first part of the jigsaw is in place.

After sorting this out first thing this morning, Steve went off to the GP for his haemoglobin blood test.  While he was out, the phone rang. It was the consultant oncologist's secretary ringing to let Steve know that his scan had been arranged for Thursday (yes...we know...he has just arranged it himself....!) and that she had booked him in to see Dr T on 10 January.  

When Steve rang back to confirm that he had picked up the message, he was told that the delay between scan and check up was down to the Christmas/New Year break. There would not be enough time been 20th and 27th December for radiology to assess the scan and advise the consultant who will decide whether Steve will have two more cycles of treatment.  We could have told them that last week.  Come to think of it, we did say that last week!

But every cloud has a silver lining, or in this case several silver linings :-)  

We can spend a little more time with Jack and Katie over Christmas, instead of having to rush off for a hospital appointment on 27 December. And New Year's Eve will not be spent in the Day Centre having chemo drugs pumped into Steve's system. Best of all, Steve will have an extended break from treatment over the holidays, allowing us to enjoy the festivities even more and giving his body a chance to recover from the poison before the next cycle of treatment, if that goes ahead.  

These things have a way of working out, and this time it's worked out really well for us..... Ho!  Ho!  Ho!  

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