Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Jack: The High School Adventure Begins


Chemo Round Two

Tuesday 21 Jan..  Round Two begins.  It was a bit touch and go as the each round is dependent on blood results confirming that the white blood cells have recovered sufficiently.  Todays test were fine although my Neutrophil count was borderline.. reading about this R-CHOP treatment it is likely that future treatments will be around 21 days and not exactly every 21 days.

First cycle was a breeze, lets hope round two goes the same way.  One aspect of treatment is how much difference I feel from the pressure in my chest/ heart.  Prior to round one I was feeling dizzy, had breathing difficulties and not sleeping well… these symptoms disappeared almost overnight with treatment.  Heart rate has dropped from around 95 to 75… more like normal.

Hair is falling out at great rate, the number one from last week has served its purpose.  Its a novel experience rubbing suntan lotion on top (Thanks Allan for the tip) if only I remembered my lower back and I wouldn't be sunburnt at all.

So back chillin… in ward as the drugs go it.  Ange has leant me her Steve Jobs book which I plan to get into shortly.

Ahhh.. Post of the new shirt will be added shortly.


Long Weekend

We had a great long weekend at Whitianga or the Coromandel..

We rented a cabin/flat at the campground in Whitianga, most of the units were very basic but being lucky first to arrive (it was not busy) we got to pick the best of the bunch which was really cool.  Had a great time visiting heaps of cool beaches in the area, including Hot Water Beach..  Hot Water Beach is a thermal phenominon which sees hot water seep through the beach sand at low tide.. aka beach spa.  Its a bit of a tourist trap but always worth the effort..  It has a special meaning as it was sitting in a hot beach pool back in 1991 that I decided that NZ would be my new home.. look no further.

We were shocked to realize that the last time we were in the Coromandel was when James was 10 months old.. I think bad memories of holiday traffic jams had conspired to keep us away.  However this time the new bridge at Kopu mean that these were worries of the past.  Except of course on state highway 2 which was a parking lot on Monday afternoon, we crawled along at snails pace for half-an-hour before taking a sneaky detour at Maramarua (thanks Liane) which saved us enduring a very frustrating crawl back to the southern motorway.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

We all live in a yellow submarine

Arrive home a short while ago..  it was long day but surprisingly stress-free.  The nursing staff were fantastic and the day just flew past.  I had no reactions to rituximab or any of the chemo drugs which bodes well for ongoing treatment.  Other than that I don't feel any different - no nausea yet.  Next treatment in 21 days.. with a couple of blood tests and doctors visits in-between.  One down five to go.

I now feel properly qualified to listen to some Beetles tunes in the hope to uncover hidden meanings in the lyrics. Plugging in now…..


Day One - Take 2

Tuesday is a new day.. it was good to put Monday behind me.  I was first to arrive in the ward today - got here just before all the oldies were wheeled in.  Sharing ward today with All Black Captain and coach - Fred Allen. He's pushing 92 and is still very sharp and Fred appears to be running the show, he knows all the team by name and they are taking good care of him.

I've seen the team and everything is all setup, drugs loaded.  First up is rituximab which is an artificially produced antibody, I think it has rodent origins but thats no worry as I enjoy a good soft cheese as much as the next rat. That is then followed by the heavy hitters of cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine… along with the prednisone.  The course is based around a 21 day cycle and is called R-CHOP - I'll probably go through 6 cycles.

Ange should be arriving with my coffee shortly - caffeine is as you all know the critical drug that holds everything together. I'm about to get started so I'll get this posted.

cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine

Monday, 9 January 2012

Day One - Fail

Today ended up being a dry-run.  Arrived spot on time. Had line put in. Popped Pre-meds. Then was informed there had been a mix-up between ward and pharmacy - Chemo drugs weren't ready.  I successfully revisited the impulsion to go all Rambo and burn the place down while confronting the armed defenders squad welding a blood pressure monitor as a mallet.   It was 50-50 call… decided to opt for a "I'm very disappointed" tone especially since I will be seeing quite a bit of these people over the next year.
So back home now - back into hospital tomorrow.  I'm sure this is only a one off.. rest assured if it happens again you hear about it on One News.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Friday Check Up (Health Update)

Fuck its Friday already.   Got some good news today - CAT scan results from yesterday showed all other lymph nodes were clean so at this stage the cancer is located only in the chest (mediastinal).  Also found out yesterday that I start treatment first thing Monday morning.  I'm still waiting for the results back from Wednesday's bone marrow biopsy - should hear back early next week.

Its been a wild ride these last two weeks and I'm still pretty amazed at the speed and momentum that has built up since discovery on 21st December.  While some of the speed has to be attributed to having scans done privately, I certainly can't fault the public system which has been fantastic.  I like to think that they are trying to make up for missing the tumor when I was admitted back in November but the reality is that (this time around) they seem to be really onto it.

My treatment is being handled by the Haematology department of North Shore Hospital and starts Monday at 9am.. drugs go in intravenously over a six hour period.  Go home and chill watching for any reactions.. followup with blood tests over the next two weeks.  Check up in third week.  The cycle repeats every 21 days, at this stage the plan is to go for 6-8 cycles before a full reassessment.  We will get a good sense of the effectiveness of the treatment during the third cycle, probably through another CT scan.  The goal initially is to eradicate the tumor completely and then monitor the situation closely.  Its all about taking one step at a time.

I'm going to have some fun with this.. watch this space for some interesting hair styles. It will all fall out eventually and then you won't be able to tell me and my brother apart).  In the second week of each treatment, I'll have to take extra care to stay away from all sorts of luggies as my immunity will be lower than normal.  Otherwise I should be fine to carry on as per normal..

I'm really looking forward to getting the OK to start back into a fitness regime and there is also some really exciting stuff happening at work that I'm keen to contribute to.  I'll have to find a replacement to cover my work down in Wellington as I'm not going to be able travel down to the capital every week like last year.  Other than that - life continues as normal - I'm feeling Uber positive and looking forward to some new/ challenging/ interesting life experiences.

Thursday, 5 January 2012


A bit of a heath update.. in case you missed the news I've had a fairly interesting christmas break (check out my last post for more details).  Late last week I got the results back of the biopsy which was taken on 23rd December. This confirmed a lymphoma non-hoskins type tumor.

Things are still moving pretty quickly and I went back into North Shore Hospital yesterday for a bone marrow biopsy and I'm going for a further CAT Scan this afternoon….  these last two procedures are primarily to help plan best course of treatment.   I expecting treatment to sometime next week - This will involve an initial phase of six, three week courses of chemotherapy.

I still pretty upbeat… things are moving along quickly and its good to that we've getting onto this problem. Thanks for all messages of support, much appreciated, sorry that I haven't responded or got in touch but will get around to this once I get my feet back on solid ground.