Saturday, 22 February 2014

Side effects, what side effects?

I'm due to have my second cycle of dacarbazine chemotherapy next week so I had my routine pre-treatment appointment with my oncologist on Thursday. Overall I've found the first cycle with this new drug to be the best I've experienced in terms of side effects - basically there haven't been any. This is pretty unusual and I've found myself wondering if the saline mixture I was infused with actually contained any dacarbazine! My oncologist was quick to remind me that I shouldn't assume the next cycle will be so trouble free.
We've decided to increase the dose of dacarbazine by 25% next week. I'm expecting some side effects but I'm hoping they will be quite mild given the experience from last cycle.
The oncologist gave me a copy of the radiology report from the CT scan that I had back on the 30th January. The purpose of the scan was to provide a baseline on tumour size that we will use to compare with my next scan, due in around five weeks time, which will be used to determine if the chemotherapy is working. I'd been off treatment for around eight weeks before the 30th January scan, during that time we knew that the cancer was growing and this was confirmed by the scan results. The tumours in my lungs, liver and abdomen had all increased in size. The good news is that the radiologist didn't raise any urgent concerns regarding this growth and he also didn't identity any new tumours elsewhere in my body.
My health has been generally good over the last three weeks although I have been getting more symptoms from the cancer since I stopped taking steroids a week ago. The most significant of these are constipation and stomach/abdominal pain. The pain is easy to manage as it tends to be transient in nature and responds quickly to paracetamol. The specialist nurse from our local hospice had warned me to expect additional symptoms once I discontinued the steroids, this is because the steroids suppress the inflammation that the tumours cause and without them this increases causing pressure on other organs.
My oncologist also asked me to continue to refrain from driving until he has spoken to a lymphoma consultant colleague of his. He said that he thinks it likely that I will not be judged safe to drive.
Not being able to drive is going to be a bit limiting in terms of my wildlife photography. Katie is happy to drive me to places but I like to spend a lot of time taking my shots and sitting around watching isn't much fun for her. One of the great things about photography is that a constraint on what or how you can shoot can sometimes help you to be more creative. Here are a few shots from February that were all taken within a mile walk of our house. Hopefully I'll find lots more subjects in the coming months.


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