A date for my high dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant has finally been decided. It will be on next Thursday, the 29th October 2009. Speaking to my consultant this morning about the treatment, I am already feeling a bit nervous.
BEAM chemotherapy is the regiment I'll be having this time around, before they end up with transfusing my stem cells back into my body. BEAM consists of:
* Carmustine (BiCNU®)
* Cytarabine (Arabinoside)
In short, the treatment will be given over a period of 8 days, which includes the stem cell transplant on the final day. The daunting bit will be how I respond to the treatment and stem cell transplant straight after, and for that reason I'll probably be kept in hospital for another 2-3 weeks. Altogether, it is expected that I'll be in hospital for at least a month this time around.
I've mentioned how the 2 ESHAP chemotherapy I've had in the past were stronger than the initial ABVD chemotherapy, and I ended up with worse side effects and longer recovery period than normal. But having learned the likely side effects of this BEAM chemotherapy, I seriously need to prepare myself both physically and mentally for what is to come.
Nausea, vomiting and extreme tiredness are probably side effects I'm quite used to, and hopefully ones that I can cope with even with the BEAM chemotherapy.
Obviously I'm always slightly apprehensive with the possibility of infection, being anaemic and risk of bleeding with this high dose chemotherapy. But what I am not really looking forward to is the other likely side effect I've never had in the past, in particular the mouth ulcer (mucositis).
As warned by my Consultant, often the mucositis gets really bad that patients need to be given morphine to ease the pain and can hardly swallow food and therefore had to be given nutrients via a nasogastric tube.
NG tube is inserted via the nasal cavity, goes all the way down into the stomach.
I must admit I already feel this is one task too daunting to bear, but I am not going to turn back now having made this far. I need to persevere.
I have Allah. I believe in Allah's plannings. I must.
At least I get an initial impression of what lies ahead of me from this video, showing Emma Hargreaves, a teenager with cancer who shared her experience of going through the BEAM chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. I'm not sure how she is at the moment, but she certainly has one strong character given her young age, and I wish her all the best in life.
Her video is one of the many videos that can be watched via the jimmyteens.tv website, a creative initiative by the Teenage Cancer Trust to share experiences of teenagers living with cancer. Spend some time watching a few of the videos, and you'll be amazed how strong and positive these young people are towards their condition. I have nothing but my utmost respect to each and every one of them.
6 days to go. O Allah, you are sufficient for me and a Great disposer of affairs are You. Make my path easy if that is Your Will.
Plenty of dua's please...