Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Please feel free to roam about the planet.

Now that I'm "off leash" and out from under the wing of continuous medical care, my nurse practitioner (aka Dr. Forman's right-hand woman), Barb, told me to "feel free to roam about the planet." Those words are music to my ears!

Tomorrow I'll spend eight hours at the City of Hope for my first infusion of maintenance Rituxan, a "monoclonal antibody" that has been successful in keeping the MCL beast at bay. I was originally scheduled for four consecutive weeks of Rituxan every six months for two years. But, after reviewing my most recent blood count numbers and my blood history, Dr. Forman became concerned about one of the possible side effects of Rituxan - reduced platelet production. Instead of the four-weeks-in-a-row schedule, I'll be going in just one time every three months for my round of Rituxan.

I haven't posted my blood count numbers for a while. My WBCs are down slightly because of a lousy head cold. My red counts are also down a tad, but my platelets are on the rise. I do wish they'd break 100.

Day 116, Monday, March 10, 2008
(Numbers in parentheses are normal ranges.)
WBC 2.7 (4.0-11)
RBC 3.00 (3.8-5.2)
HGB 10.6 (11.5-15.5)
PLT 71 (150-350)

My weight is also down a tad, but I'm sure it's a result of my feeble appetite from the cold.

It felt strange on Monday to have my blood drawn the old-fashioned way - through a vein in my arm. It reminded me of the early days of my cancer adventure, before the PICC line was inserted in March 2007.

Even before patients confessed to being "newbies," I could pick them out in a lineup. The anxious look in their eyes gave them away. One man lit up when he learned that I was on the other side of treatment. He told me that he desperately needed to talk with me and asked if I could wait for him.

We went outside and sat together by the Spirit of Life fountain. It seemed a little surreal to be sitting outside on a warm Spring-like day, listening to the splashing fountain and discussing his treatment for stage three rectal cancer. He starts chemo next week.

Even though our cancers and cases couldn't be more different, I think it was important for him to be able to talk with someone who had lived a "normal" life through treatment and survived to tell about it.

On Friday, I plan to visit someone whose case is a little closer to my own. My new friend Gahlit, the mother of a 15-month-old daughter, just completed a successful donor stem cell transplant for leukemia and is recovering at home. She's one of the spunkiest, feistiest gals I know and, for me, one of the "side benefits" of cancer. Yep - there are side benefits as well as side effects.

Now I hope you'll excuse me. I have a planet to roam.


Barbara Roth said...

How great you are free to roam the planet. Feel like going to Tuscany with me? I leave the end of April and would love to share it with you. Ciao, Barbara

Nancy said...

Congrats on being able to "roam."
I was just a City of Hope today. Wish our appointments were the same day so we could visit. I just had to have my Pantamadine, lung treatment and have my thyroid ultrasound (follow-up). Will not know results from this for a while. Take Care & Have fund wherever the road takes you... :>
love, n

Karen said...

I'm sure you will be a wonderful resource for the "cancer newbies" who need information, encouragement and reassurance! I'll see you on Friday.

Ann said...

Yay Susan!