My Battle With Cancer
Part 2: Induction Treatment

Chemotherapy Cycle 3

24 February 2005
With my treatment starting 3 days later I now headed off to Christchurch on a Thursday instead of Monday. This time it was to be for a very long two weeks. I guess the greatest upside of starting the treatment a few days later was that I was feeling much better at the start of this cycle.

25 February 2005
After getting up I had my last bit of food before heading over to the hospital for chemo. After eating breakfast my whole stomach was once again in pain and I was now worried this could delay starting my chemo. We arrived at the hospital at 10AM and waited for the chemo drugs to arrive only this didn't happen until after 3pm so once again we waited all day in the hospital for nothing. While waiting my stomach started hurting again so the house surgeon examined me but he was convinced I could start chemo today so I did. After starting chemo I found I became really nauseous right away. The nurse gave me an anti-nausea drug injected into my Hickman line. The particular anti-nausea drug knocked me out almost instantly. I just wanted to sleep, so mum went back to Ranui house for a couple of hours and let me lie down. I actually felt nauseous for most of the evening but slept reasonably well through the night.

26 February 2005
I was awoken early by a very arrogent male nurse. He didn't seem to care if I wanted to sleep in the mornings and once my first day's chemo was finished around 9 in the morning he wanted me to get up and take a shower so he could start the next days chemo right away. I explained that last time they didn't start the next day's treatment until after 3PM and he told me this wasn't possible as there are not many staff trained to give chemo drugs at night in the weekends. He wasn't happy about me not eating food and wasn't happy I hadn't taken my medication yet forgetting the fact that I wouldn't usually be out of bed yet so wouldn't usually have taken my medication. I spent the rest of the day playing around on the laptop before going to bed quite late at night.

27 February 2005
Once again the male nurse awoke me early to start my third day of chemo. I asked that I could have some more sleep and all he would allow was another hour as he wanted to get the chemo started early again. It was much nicer after 3PM when the shift had changed and this nurse had gone home.

28 February 2005
My final day's chemo ended in the morning and I was allowed to sleep in for a part of the morning. I had trouble taking my medication this morning as I just couldn't drink anything the nurse told me that if I can't get my medication into me then I would have to stay in hospital. This threat from the nurse was a good enough push for me to take my medication
In the afternoon I went back to Ranui house and spent the rest of the afternoon just lying down on the bed. In the evening I could not eat any tea just an ice block and a Milo chocolate bar I ate in the afternoon. We had to go back to the hospital to have my sub-cut line inserted and my GCSF injection taken. This time I had a higher dosage to get my white cell count up faster for the stem cell harvest. I tried squeezing the needle but it was like I just didn't have the energy to and then it felt as if someone was strangling my neck, I ended up getting up and pacing around the room in pain and then vomiting. The line had not been inserted properly so the nurse reinserted a new line and injected the GCSF for me and it seemed to be ok this time. After arriving back at Ranui house I went to bed at around 8:30 and had a very restless night.

2 March 2005
Two days after finishing my third round of chemotherapy and we are still in Christchurch staying at Ranui House, normally we would be home by now. Mum dragged me out of bed at 9am because I needed to have the dressing changed on my Hickman over at the hospital, this is done every week. The nurse in the oncology department made the appointment for 9:30am and given that I was still recovering from the chemo I didn't have the energy to be up this early. As soon as we returned I went straight back to bed for the rest of the morning. At 1:30pm mum and I were taken down to the Christchurch Blood Donor Service where were given information about the stem cell harvest in the next week. I just had to sit down as I didn't have the energy, the nurse showed me the machine used to harvest the stem cells but I could hardly look at it I just needed to sit down. Once we were back at Ranui house I had another rest and felt better by the evening. Mum cooked chops for tea and one of the other patients decided that she would start telling my mother how she should be cooking these chops and told her it would use less power if she cooked them on the grill with her food. The patient then took her cooked food and opened the door between the dining area and the lounge to watch TV, the smell of mum's chops set off the fire alarm. Mum then took the chops that were now cooked and put them on a plate with other food for me and we ate outside in the BBQ area after we were all told to evacuate the building. The false fire alarm ended up getting the fire brigade in to check over the building and later Ranui house was given a bill for $1000 for setting off a false alarm.

4 March 2005
After getting up at lunch time mum and I had to see a psychiatrist so that she could establish what issues have gone on in my life and whether this would affect me in any way if I was to do the high dosage treatment, I still question how necessary this was as all it did was make me look like I have lived a bad life prior to being diagnosed with cancer and that truly isn't the case. My next appointment was with a registrar from the Bone Marrow unit. It took him nearly 2 hours to actually turn up during that time I just sat in pain, my stomach hurt and I had no energy. When the registrar finally arrived he explained that on Sunday he will take a blood test and if the haemoglobin levels are low then I will require a blood transfusion this is to ensure my blood is ok for a stem cell harvest. I was then asked to sign consent to have a blood transfusion. Late in the afternoon Peter and Kat, a couple of old friends from when I was student, came around to Ranui House to visit me. It was nice to catch up and explain just how this treatment has affected me, I felt so much better for the rest of the day after had come and visited me. I can remember commenting to Peter how I had beaten him to go bald as for the past few years Peter had been going bald.

6 March 2005
Over the past few days I hadn't been feeling great at all, the biggest issue has been an upset stomach and chronic diarrhoea. Fortunately my temperature hasn't risen above 38 degrees so I have managed to stay out of hospital. Mum and I arrived at the Bone Marrow Unit to have a blood test done early in the morning we then waited an hour for the results. As predicted my haemoglobin levels were low and as a result a blood transfusion was necessary, I also had fluids pumped into me. After a few hours I started to feel so much better like I had so much more energy. The Bone Marrow Unit at Christchurch hospital was a much nicer environment than Ward 27 and the good news is that if I do get sick while still in Christchurch this week I will be sent there instead of Ward 27. In the evening I felt so much better thanks to having these fluids pumped through me.

7 March 2005
I was dragged out of bed very early so I could be down at the hospital by 7:30am for another blood test if my blood was ok I would have my stem cell harvest today but I didn't see that being likely. As soon as the blood test was over I went straight back to bed at Ranui house. Late in the morning the Bone Marrow Unit called to say that my blood should be at a level to do a stem cell harvest tomorrow I was told I needed to make sure I had plenty of fluids all day. I drank heaps that day as I just wanted to get the stem cell harvest over and go home.

8 March 2005
My blood test came back fine to proceed with the stem cell harvest. I was put in a single room in the Bone Marrow Unit and I have to say these rooms are much nicer than the rooms in the oncology ward. The rooms have their own toilets and showers like at Southland Hospital, there even was a TV and DVD player in the room. The stem cells were harvested off my vein instead of using my Hickman as it is possible to damage the Hickman line with a stem cell harvest. To do a successful harvest 2 million cells must be harvested, this normally has to be done over two days. After a few hours I was told that I had so far harvested more than the required 2 million cells which meant the stem cell harvest would only need to be done today. Later that day I was told that not only had I harvest more than the required 2 million cells but I had actually harvested over 8 million cells, 5 million is considered to be optimum. The best news is that as a result I can now go home to Invercargill tomorrow, it had been a very long two weeks in Christchurch.

9 March 2005
After arranging with the Ministry of Health for a flight home the earliest we could go home was the next day, since Katrina works for Air New Zealand she was able to change our flight to today. The only problem was that now our taxi had to be changed and doing this was easier said than done, the Ministry of Health were questioning how we changed the flight and starting arguing that if the taxi was changed to today there would be no one to get on it. In the end we managed to convince the operator that if the taxi took us to the airport today and the flight wasn't available today we would just stay the night at Katrina's place since this is close to the airport. We managed to get our flight home fine and it was such a relief to be home after so long.

14 March 2005
Mum and I attended a Living with Cancer Seminar run by the Cancer Society. It was a chance to share information with others who were going through similar treatment. The seminar was run over two days but unfortunately for me I was unable to attend the second day as it was held the following week and Christchurch Hospital wanted me up there a day early so I could see Professor Robinson.

19 March 2005
My 26th birthday but for me there wasn't really much to celebrate and the day was quite an uneventful one. We were supposed to go away this weekend but with being asked to be in Christchurch a day early this became impossible.

My 26th Birthday
Opening my presents on my 26th Birthday, I am now completely bald.

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My Battle With Cancer

Part 1: Being Diagnosed With Cancer Life Before CancerThe DiagnosisTreatment Begins
Part 2: Induction Treatment Chemotherapy Cycle: 123456
Part 3: Surgery The Surgery
Part 4: Consolidation Treatment Chemotherapy Cycle: 7891011121314
Part 5: Life After Cancer Removal of the Hickman Line20062007 - 20102011 - 2016