Part one of the new Chemo cycle targeting the Bowel Cancer has started with a 3 hour session in Xativa Hospital. Dad was put on an intravenous solution to kick start this new phase. It also gave him chance to reconnect with the countless number of nurses/girlfriends he has gained during his time attending all his various appointments.
He has also now been prescribed part 2 of the Chemo treatment which is Capecitabina – a tablet to be taken orally, twice a day, for the next 14 days.
As expected the standard list of side effects that could occur during this round of Chemo is quite lengthy:
Stomach pain or upset stomach, Constipation, Loss of appetite, Changes in the ability to perceive the flavours of food, Increased thirst, Unusual tiredness or weakness, Dizziness, Headache, Hair loss, Rash, Back, joint or muscle pain, Redness, swelling, itching or tearing of the eyes, Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep.
The Serious side effects that we need to keep an eye out for though are as follows:
Diarrhoea, Sickness, Vomiting, Sores in the mouth, Swelling, pain, redness, or scaling of the skin on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet, Fever, chills, sore throat or other signs of infection, Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs, Pain or tightness in the chest, Fast heartbeat, Dark urine, Yellowing of the skin or eyes.
The Oncologist is going to see Dad on a weekly basis to ensure that he is coping okay with this cycle of Chemo. She is highly concerned of the side effects that could occur for Dad and wants to ensure that the treatment is the right choice at this late stage. She did give the option to postpone it this morning as Dad was feeling a little worse for wear and very tired.
It is touch and go if this cycle of Chemo will do anything other than upset the balances of Dad’s other organs which have currently stabilised. The Capecitabina tablets can cause complications for patients that have current issues with their liver, kidneys and heart. The fact that Dad has liver metastases, fluid round his heart and had kidney failure over Christmas are all areas of concern that the hospital must keep a close eye on. Salt levels are also going to be at risk if diarrhoea occurs due to the fact this will flush out liquid intake which in turn will flush out all the sodium causing even more complications for the kidneys.
The counter argument of this is that he is barely now eating anything anyway. So, in some respects this is helping as the less he takes in the less he needs to process through his body. To better understand what he was up against we have asked if surgery was possible in order to remove the tumour in his bowel. This would have meant Dad having a Colostomy Bag, which is something he doesn’t really like the thought of but we wanted to know anyway.
Unfortunately, surgery to remove the tumour is not possible. The tumour is big and is inoperable. It is also the reason he cannot toilet properly. It’s not just that he isn’t eating, the tumour is so big that the colon is almost fully blocked. As a result, should he start being sick and not toileting at all, then he will end up having a Colostomy Bag whether he likes it or not, despite the fact the tumour will remain in his Colon.
Both Dad & Mum are understandably concerned with regards to the lack of eating and the Oncologist has said that it is not a problem. Her words were basically that whilst not eating will cause him to die, he will die anyway. This was done in a pleasant and tactful way though the answer is only what we already knew.
This coming Wednesday we will see the Oncologist for a follow up review; Dad will have his blood tests done and this will give them the chance to decide whether the treatment should continue or not.
On Thursday, Dad will then have a biopsy done on his liver. This will be a full day appointment with careful monitoring needed throughout the day. He will be put on an intravenous drip in order to administer medication if required and will be on bed rest, after the biopsy, within the oncology department for between 2-6 hours.
Should Chemo work and not impact Dad’s quality of life too drastically then the cycle is repeated every 3 weeks. (The next one being 10th March).
Should Dad not be strong enough then his options are limited. It’s highly likely a Colostomy Bag will be fitted and he will then be in the realm of the palliative care team to ensure he is as pain free as possible until the end.
Despite Dad being shattered, feeling ‘wuzzy’ and a little worse for wear, we did still head out today for a walk around a nearby lake. Dad wanted to and so this should be taken as an encouraging sign. I have to admit, he doesn’t look half bad either. Well, not half bad in this picture.