Sorry I've been a bit absent as of late. It's been busy at work and to be honest, I just haven't wanted to think about having cancer for a while.
Last month I had my usual finger stick and my doctor
informed me that my platelet count was too low to start the month's
round. 53,000 per microliter (normal is about 150,000-450,000). He
told me that it's nothing to worry about, no real concern, but that he
wanted me to wait a week to recover before starting my next round. A
week later I'd rebounded to just shy of the lower end of normal, so he
gave me the go-ahead on the lower dose. It was kind of a bummer, since
I'd tolerated the chemo so well for so long. My other counts (RBCs and
WBCs) were fine.
How he explained it to me, when a patient takes chemo it damages their
bone marrow and reduces their ability to produce blood cells. Give the
body some time to recover and it can usually repair about 99% of the
damage. Now, that's the number he gave me so it's what I've got to work
with. I have no idea how accurate that is. So even though the body
can almost completely recover, there is a small amount of permanent
damage. Then next time, the patient will recover to 99% of their new
normal, for a little more permanent damage, which brings them to about
98.01% of their original baseline.
The makers of Temodar suggest that patients only take it for a maximum
of 2 years, regardless of its effectiveness. 24 doses means their
blood's about 21.4% compromised.
I've always hated math.
I saw a series called The Unusuals on Netflix that has an interesting take on brain cancer. It's about a group of NYC detectives. It's not a particularly great show - each character basically has exactly one character trait - but one of the characters has a brain tumor and shows a lot of the same symptoms and anxieties I've seen in myself and other patients. He decides to try to ignore his tumor, because he doesn't want to end up a vegetable in a hospital even though his doctor tells him he'll be dead within months if he doesn't get it treated. Throughout the nine episodes I watched (not sure if there are any more), he suffers hallucinations, changes in his sense of taste and smell, headaches, and of course all the fear and uncertainty such a diagnosis brings. I think the show got canceled after that so I don't know if he ever does get it treated; the closest he got in the episodes I saw was sneaking into a hospital with the coroner for an MRI.
It's a good enough treatment of the disease that I wonder if it isn't based on some real life experience. Worth a watch if you have Netflix streaming and nothing better to do.