Tuesday 1 November 2016

Chemo Completion

This blog post I fully expected to either be about the start of my 5th cycle of chemo and my impending week of unsettled stomach and tiredness, or as a roundup of my weekend at SU2C. However, I received a phone call this week that came straight out of left field and threw those plans out the window.

As I have mentioned previously, my chemo has been delayed lately because of low platelet levels showing up when I have blood tests done to assess my suitability to start treatment. The platelet value should be 100 or above to allow chemotherapy to commence and mine has been significantly lower, dropping as low as 14 last week, meaning my chemo has been postponed a couple of times. At the start of the week I went for another blood test, hoping to have recovered enough to keep my treatment on course for a finish by the end of the year. A couple of days ago however, I received a call from my oncologist bearing the news that my platelets had improved marginally but still sat at 16, miles away from being able to start any chemotherapy treatment. As I began to feel slightly disappointed she continued by saying "... So at this point I have decided I wont be prescribing any further chemotherapy. You're officially off treatment." I don't know what I expected but it definitely wasn't that.

After a bit of a discussion about the reasons for and against this I agreed that this was the best course of action for a couple of reasons. Firstly the chemo is underway because I'm physically able, not as a reaction to a growth in the tumour, so stopping shouldn't cause any significant negative responses in the tumour (touch wood). Secondly the chemo is clearly having a significant impact on my bone marrow and she didn't want to decimate it when the chemo isn't actually desperately needed. She would rather save my bone marrow for potential future occasions where there is a sudden growth which needs to be brought under control.

As a result of this my treatment plan moving forward will be to monitor my bloods weekly to check my platelet levels are recovering as expected. I will also be having a full assessment and scan in the new year to allow a decision to be made regarding finally being able to go away on my trip. Other than that, nothing. I know that I will undoubtedly be going back onto chemo at some point in the future, but, for now, it's nice to finally be off treatment for the first time since March.

Over these last eight months I've been through four cycles of chemotherapy, which adds up to a total of 140 tablets bearing chemicals; I've managed to keep my hair (just about) and - other than a dodgy gut during the latest cycle and some tiredness throughout - have felt okay all the way through; I've been able stay in the gym three times a week other than on a chemo week and have started doing some yoga as a way of getting a bit of extra exercise in during the week; finally - and most importantly - I've had Timmy reduce in size by just over 1/5 of his diameter. The impact of chemotherapy on brain tumours is oft-debated as there can be problems with enough of the chemicals getting across the Blood-Brain Barrier to make a meaningful difference, but based on my experiences I have to say the side effects are definitely worth the benefits and I won't hesitate to go back onto it at some point.

Now I'm off treatment though, I can start to work on myself without having to take breaks every six weeks, I'm going to do a little bit of judo coaching and working on ways to potentially get myself on the mat training in some way.


  1. Glad to hear you will be coaching! Macsen and Mali love it when you take the sessions!

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