At around 11 PM Wednesday, March 2, 2016 we began the first round of the Dose-Controlled EPOCH chemotherapy. This is the first of 4 bags that will require 24 hours each for the total infusion to occur. As I write this at a little before midnight on Thursday (3/3), the first sets of bags have completed, I’ve showered, and the second set of bags (out of four series of bags) have been installed and are flowing the chemicals through my body.
I am to avoid contact with others during and two days after the infusion. Apparently, the body sweats off the chemo that is absorbed, making it toxic to others who come in contact with it. This means I cannot sleep in the same bed as my wife during this treatment and I cannot have direct contact with anyone during this time. Fortunately, she is able to stay in my hospital room with me. Some research suggests that having a family member stay with a patient often speeds recovery and improves recovery levels. I certainly believe they are on to something. It has been such a comfort and blessing to have her here with me throughout this process.
Unfortunately, this means I won’t be able to see much of my grandson during my treatment and recovery. Once I become non-toxic, the period leading up to what is called “Nadir” is encountered. During this time, a chemo patient’s white blood cells are at a critical low point, which means they are unable to fight of the simplest infections. ( Chemo cannot distinguish between good cells and cancer cells so all cells are killed including the white blood cells needed to fight infection). The risk of infection is very high and the ability to recover from an infection becomes a significant concern. A fever as low as 100 degrees Fahrenheit will require a chemo patient to be hospitalized. Subsequently, any exposure to people who may be ill or has been in contact with someone who may be carrying a virus is to be avoided. They explained that daycare centers and young children are some of the biggest carriers of such bacteria. If I have to go out during that time, I am to wear a mask.
As an answer to prayer, I haven’t noticed any reaction to the chemo so far except for a decreased need for pain medication. My Oncologist/ Hematologist suggested that as the chemo shrinks the cancerous masses, it will likely reduce the pain I have been experiencing. I believe he is correct — I believe the masses are reducing in size already, which is causing the pain reduction. Additionally, I was finally able to get some much needed rest. Each of these were truly prayers answered!