Full details on my Cancer Diary page.
I had my appointment with the oncologist today, a charming Chinese lady called Dr. Lo, who immediately put us at our ease. I had been told that the surgery was considered curative, but would need some chemotherapy afterwards as "belt and braces" to mop up any rogue cells which might still remain in my system.
I had been hoping for a single cycle of oral chemo, but in view of the fact that my cancer had invaded through all layers of the bowel wall and also into one lymph node, and was the most aggressive kind, I was told that it would be administered intravenously over the next SIX MONTHS!!! I was horrified when she told us that. Also, the oral chemo isn't suitable for someone with heart problems.
I am having Oxaliplatin (eloxatin) intravenously, every three weeks, for six months. This is far more radical than I'd hoped. I shall have a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) installed for the duration of the treatment, and the chemo and any other drugs will be administered through the cannula in the crook of my elbow, from which they will also be able to take blood.
The PICC line will have to be flushed every week by the district nurse. Each treatment will take about four hours. Side effects will be cumulative over the course of the treatment, and which will be most severe immediately after treatment, and may include increased risk of infection, anaemia, bleeding and bruising, peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet), and almost universally, extreme fatigue. Nausea and diarrhoea should not be a problem because drugs are prescribed to counteract these. There may be other side effects too; it all sounds pretty unpleasant.
As we left, my hubby took me into the chapel, which is just near the oncology department. It's absolutely beautiful. All around the altar are lots and lots of little teddies given in memory of babies who had died, and this moved me so much. Thinking of that made me count my blessings, and realise that whatever I've got to face, it's never going to be as bad as that. The chapel is such a beautiful sanctuary and I'm so glad we went in there before coming home.
I will be called in again probably early next week, when they will talk to me about my treatment, and possibly fit the PICC line and do my initial blood test and prepare me for the beginning of the treatment which will follow soon after.
I just hope I stay the course and can put up with it all... I am still finding it quite hard to get my head around the idea that I've had cancer at all, and haven't been able to think about that aspect much until now, because my brain has compartmentalised it all, allowing me to focus first on the surgery, then on managing the stoma.
It's a bit frustrating to think that I shall be made to feel poorly again just when I feel I am picking up after my operation and thinking I would soon get my life back again, but I feel it's still on hold and will be for some time now.