June started off with action. Mom was beginning the 2nd kind of chemotherapy (current chemo). For the current chemo each cycle consists of 3 weekly treatments, and then there is a week off. A day before each weekly treatment, mom needs to get bloodwork done which is reviewed prior to treatment being provided. During the week off, mom has an appointment with the oncologist, Dr. O, which serves as a check in, check up and review of how things are going. Mom’s blood work is reviewed and discussed and she is also weighed. I mention this because weight loss is a big challenge for those with cancer and those going through chemo. Mom has lost quite a bit of weight since January and we are all working hard to keep her strong and healthy.
Mom’s weekly treatments were set for three Fridays in a row: June 1st, 8th, and 15th. The BCCA calls earlier that week to let us know what time the treatment will be. Sasha and dad went with mom each time. Dad was primarily the driver and support person, while Sasha who works close by, met up with them and accompanied mom inside. The nurse conducts an interview of sorts asking about symptoms, reactions, concerns etc. The nurse also starts the IV and”flushes out” the port before the medicine is attached. The current chemo is a relatively short session. All in, the appointment can take around an hour. Some of the side effects of this current chemo are that the patient may feel flu-like symptoms for a few days after treatment. There may also be increased pain and general fatigue.
Having the treatments on Fridays has had both benefits and drawbacks. The benefits are that during the weekends we, the family, are more available and flexible since we aren’t at work. We can spend more time at mom and dad’s place and contribute as needed. One of the drawbacks has been that there is a bigger chance that mom may not feel well enough to go to mass on Sunday which is something important and meaningful for her. For the rest of us it also means we don’t all meet at the same mass on Sunday morning, (which I miss!) but rather we split up so that if mom needs support at home, someone can stay with her while dad goes and then we switch out. This approach works out great! One big drawback and something I’ve missed over the last few months is that it’s become much more challenging for us to meet up as a family on Sundays for dinner. This has been a weekly ritual for many years. If mom is not well, she prefers quiet, and having a full noisy house is not helpful. This also means that she’s not well enough to come for dinner to someone else’s place. We’ve also had to be a lot more vigilant about germs, so any time someone has a cold or sniffle, they stay away. The colds and sniffles have seemed more frequent over the spring which impacted our family get-togethers even more. Boo! I think I can speak for the whole family that one giant drawback has also been that we miss mom’s cooking!!
At the beginning of June, mom was also feeling a pain in the back of one her calves . The doctor who checked things out felt it was likely nothing, but because blood clots are a concern for cancer patients, made a referral for mom to get an ultrasound done on her leg on June 7th at RCH. Following the ultrasound, mom was sent to emergency as a blood clot was evident. We didn’t know if this was critical or a precaution, but anyone who has been to RCH emergency can appreciate the long waits there. And so we had more quality family time :). After a few hours, we were told that mom has deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which is basically a fancy name for a blood clot. We were told mom can be discharged and she received an injection in her stomach for the blood clot. They scheduled us to come back the next day to see a doctor about on-going treatment given she is at a higher risk for blood clots which can become life-threatening. And so June 8th included both a chemo treatment in Surrey and an appointment at RCH. It was an exhausting day, especially for mom. Since that day, we are administering daily injections of an anticoagulant that helps prevent the formation of blood clots. Sasha has been the primary in-house doctor to administer the shots, I got to hold the cotton ball and rubbing alcohol once or twice haha.
Near the end of June, during the week off from chemo, there were a few really good days. Mom felt more energetic and strong. Maria, her daughter Ollie, mom and I even went on a day trip out by Hope to check out a vacation spot we have booked. It was a beautiful sunny day and it felt so good to get out of the daily routine and go on a little adventure.
Lastly, on June 28th we had a follow up with Dr. O. This ended up being a pretty standard appointment with a plan to start the next cycle of chemo. The dates were set to start on the next day, Friday June 29th and then July 6th and 13th, followed by a break again. There was also conversation about shifting the chemo dates around a bit for the next cycle so that we can go away on our annual week long family vacation in July if all goes according to plan.