It finally came around, around a full month has passed since first diagnosed and I made it in for cycle one day one of my medical trial.
Nervous? No, surprisingly not. It’s not like I was going in for major surgery or anything, very little could actually go wrong and in the event of any bad reaction I would be surrounded by specialist nurses to get me sorted out. Kari was nervous though, enough for the both of us!
Advised to take an overnight bag ( just in case ) and a picnic for lunch we rolled up just before 11am and made our way in. It was all new staff I hadn’t seen before with the exception of Paula the research nurse who – when on hospital grounds at least – is rarely more than a few feet away from me! After a quick assessment and obs they started stabbing my left hand with a cannula, then gave in and went with the right instead, proceeded to take what seemed like several pints of blood which we learnt were to be sent of to Sweden, Belgium and Switzerland for various tests to be carried out and checked – who needs to holiday abroad I’ve likely already been more places than you… in DNA form anyway! 🙂
An hour after turning up, the first infusions started. This one was the immunotherapy drug Atezolizumab, or the placebo depending which random blind branch I’d landed on. I was accompanied throughout by Paula checking my obs every 15 minutes and was not allowed to take any other medication as they needed to know that any side effects appearing could only have come from the infusion and nothing else. This went smoothly enough over the course of an hour and I had no effects appearing at the time so all good so far!
A quick flush with the saline solution and onto the second infusion which was the first of two chemo drugs, Gemcitabine. This was a 30 minute infusion being fed in at a faster rate, within a few minutes of this one starting I started to get a pain up my vain to about halfway up my forearm… a pain which gradually increased in intensity. I hit the call button and won’t lie, the anxiety did start to build here for the first time.
Trying my best to keep my anxiety in check the nurse came over pretty quickly and it turns out that the chemo infusions are kept in the fridge, and it is the cold temperature of them causing the pain! The easy fix was to get me an electric heated arm warmer which they wrapped around both my arm and the cannula tubing to warm the infusion. After a few minutes this started to do the trick and the pain eased again.
Once over, another quick flush with saline and onto the third and final infusion – 1 hour of Carboplatin. I kept the arm warmer on for this one just in case but didn’t seem to have as much of an issue and the time flew by – probably as I was half dosing through the hour struggling to stay awake!
I found myself counting down the minutes for the final ten still, eager to head home. It had been a long day, and sitting around in a chair all day had never been so draining before – I’m basically done for!
Overall though really good day considering no immediate ill effects from the infusions, which means future infusions can be given at a faster rate so will be shorter visits – bonus!
Now I just have to watch out for any side effects over the next few days or so. In particular swelling which is a potential side effect of immunotherapy and could be a tell as to whether I am on the drug or a placebo… tho not getting any swelling doesn’t really mean anything either way I could still be on the drug just not being affected so much.
I also come home with strict instructions to always sit down when using the loo now… apparently we can’t risk splashes of “radioactive/contaminated fluid” missing the target! I also have to double flush every time… just in case! Everything now is so geared to avoiding any kind of bugs and preventing anybody else accidentally coming into contact with the chemo drugs somehow… and it’s all very strict with several nurses giving me the same lecture over again!
Well, here’s hoping the side effects are kept to a minimum with the exception of swelling which I do actually want to see, then hopefully I can rejoin my Goodgym buddies on a group “run” on Monday for the first time in months! I won’t actually be running it just yet but will be there taking part with some tasks Egg has specially selected for me… hopefully lunge free lol. Really looking forward to this so hoping to be feeling good through Monday, any setback will be gutting now as I really do need ( and want ) to get back out there!
So, I will keep you up to date on anything that may happen over this next week and if I make it to Goodgym or not. I think I may throw together some kind of post / video on running… not really covered that and the cancer yet though I’ve probably posted enough depressing posts to last all year lol!