Go on, feel sorry for me. It’s not often I ask for your sympathy…
As well as getting the prognosis, treatment options and odds on good/bad things happening (see previous blog), last week’s meeting with the consultant also set out the timetable for the rest of the year – assuming things go to plan.
We already knew that a summer holiday was a no-no, and Thursday’s meeting was just the rubber stamping confirmation.
It’s hardly the end of the world, and getting treatment and getting better are the number one priorities.
But I feel for Louise and the kids, who’ve already had to put up with so much since diagnosis and would really benefit from a sunshine break over the coming months.
Still, maybe my good friends at the Met Office, who I know are avid readers of this blog, could arrange for a barbecue summer for my stay-at-home family? We all know the power they have over the weather!
The good news – for me at least – is that summer 2016 marks a sporting extravaganza. There’s the European Football Championships in June and July (and none of the stress of having to support Scotland) and then the Olympics in August, alongside the annual major events like Wimbledon, the Tour de France and the Open.
Whether I’m stuck in hospital or recuperating at home, I’ll not be short of something to keep me entertained!
So what does my treatment schedule look like?
Again, there’s lots of ifs, buts and maybes. Not just the usual vagaries of delay due to infections and blood counts, but wide variations in preparation and recovery times.
The plan so far looks like this:
- 14-16 March – final round (#6) of ‘normal’ chemotherapy, followed by two weeks of blood testing.
- 22 March – start of Stem Cell process – visit to transplant team at ERI and various physical and blood checks.
- 4 April – single day of high-dose chemotherapy
- 5-10 April (or longer) – daily growth factor injections to encourage Stem Cell production.
- 11 April (or later) – start of Stem Cell ‘harvesting’ at ERI. May need to attend for two or three days of 4/5 hour sessions to get enough Stem Cells.
- Early April – re-staging colonoscopy and CT scan
- April 18 for four to six weeks – multiple pre Stem Cell transplant checks – heart, lungs, kidneys, blood etc.
- Mid- to end-May – Admission to Western General to start Stem Cell re-plantation process. Starts with six days of ‘industrial strength’ chemotherapy, one day of recovery, then the return of the harvested Stem Cells via IV drip.
- Mid- to end-May until mid- to end-June – Expectation is that I will spend four to six weeks in Western, most of it in isolation to avoid the risk of infections which can be life threatening due to lack of an immune system.
- July until September/October/November – post-transplant recovery generally takes three to six months depending on how well your blood counts and immune system recover.
Oh, and I forgot, if you’re thinking ‘lucky sod, getting to relax in his garden all summer’, I need to avoid too much direct sunlight due to increased risk of skin cancer, so it’s big hats, long sleeves and no shorts for me even if I do get out to the patio.