Thursday, April 24, 2008

04/24/08 - Chemotherapy ?

On Tuesday, April 22nd, I went to Moffitt for a number of appointments. Specifically, I had a check of my counts, an MRI of my head, and an appointment with my doctors to discuss the previous two items. The MRI was clear of any tumor regrowth, which is very good, and my counts were low. I usually receive chemotherapy a week after this appointment, but my doctors felt that my counts wouldn't be high enough to receive it so soon.

My chemotherapy was originally scheduled for eight cycles of eight weeks - for a total of 64 weeks. If that schedule was adhered to, my last chemo would have started on February 20th... My low counts have pushed out that date.

Big decision... Well, because my counts have been low, my doctors have given me the option to stop chemo about the last 3-4 cycles (since last fall). I presently had one more cycle left. To make a long story short, I have chosen not to receive my last dose of chemotherapy.

Catch 22... Chemo drugs attack fast-growing cells. This includes tumor cells and blood cells. The conflict that happens is while trying to shrink or eliminate the tumor, chemo will lower your blood counts. During my previous (7 of 8) chemo cycle, my blood counts were lower than ever. They can reach a point where they recover very slowly, or not at all... Since my counts seemed to be approaching that point, and the next cycle would have been my last, I decided not to receive it.

I chose not to stop earlier mainly because the treatment was not close to its end. Another factor was that if I continued and my counts dropped, they would've used Aranesp again to boost my red blood cells. I'd rather not receive Aranesp ever again because of its potentially severe side effects.

For now, we're going to monitor my blood counts once per week until they recover. In eight weeks, I'm scheduled to have my blood checked, an MRI of my head, an MRI of my spine, a spinal tap (I had one during my "silent period" when I wasn't blogging after my operation), and a meeting with my doctors to discuss the test results. That will be a long day.

To summarize, I have stopped chemotherapy. My blood counts are still low, and they will be checked until they recover. In the future, I will be checked for tumor recurrence at regular intervals. I will still have plenty of updates to post...