Bad News 2

I suppose it would have been too easy if everything were going to plan. And perhaps I would even be struggling to think of things to write. Unfortunately, this isn't the case.

On Thursday 30th January I had an appointment with my medical team to discuss the results of the previous scans. I thought it was a little peculiar when I was told that the radiographer's report was inconclusive and that it would be best if the results were seen by a lymphoma specialist. The outcome was that there is massively reduced activity in the tumours of the abdomen and neck, but increased lymphoma activity in the left lung. 
And they're almost all gone!
Tomorrow morning, I will be starting with a more intense chemotherapy called "dose-escalated BEACOPP". It is made up of seven different active parts, each serving a particular purpose. Three of the chemotherapy drugs from the previous ABVD schedule appear in the BEACOPP regimen. Yes, I know the acronyms don't quite add up, but I'm sure some big fancy doctor somewhere makes up all these names to make them sound more powerful.

Bleomycin (day 8) - slow IV injection
Etoposide (days 1-3) - IV drip for two hours
Adriamycin (day 1) - slow IV injection

Cyclophosphamide (day 1) - IV drip for one hour
Oncovin (day 8) - IV drip for 10 minutes
Procarbazine (days 1-7) - oral chemotherapy tablets
Prednisone (days 1-14) - oral steroid tablets

To sever and protect.
When I say that it is more intense, I really mean that it is more life consuming. It consists of four chemo sessions a fortnight, plus oral chemotherapy (tablets) at night. I'll also be on prednisone, a steroid, to keep me feeling better. My least favourite part is that I will be taught how to give myself Growth Factor injections. These injections will boost my immune system, ready to be destroyed again by the following chemotherapy cycle. For those who know me, I'm not very squeamish. That's true, but with the exception of injections. I hate them. So giving them to myself is going to be a big moment for me, and help me overcome a fear.

I may have self-delusion. 

The next rubbish thing is the oral chemotherapy. Originally I thought it was awesome. One pill, popped in the mouth and that's it. It works while you sleep. Wrong. Well, technically it's right but it comes with one massive side effect. I'll become intolerant to tyramine, a derivative of the amino acid, tyrosine. The easiest way to know if something contains tyramine is to ask yourself "is it yummy?". If the answer is yes, then it's off the menu. Chocolate? No. Pineapple? No. Peanut butter? No. Delicious cheeses? No, but Philadelphia is acceptable. Cake? No. Happiness? Won't be found through my stomach. This includes Borders Gingers being forbidden. 

It's a yes to jelly!

So yeah, bad news overall. Except there's one great big advantage! Research has shown that BEACOPP should only be given for 9-12 weeks. Hypothetically, if this goes well, I'll be all better by May. If it doesn't, the next step would be radiotherapy.

Joshua Lerner

Hi! I’m the 'star' of Livin' With Lymphoma. The blog was founded on the 31st October 2013, on the day I was diagnosed with Stage 4B Hodgkin's lymphoma. I hope you find it funny and informative.

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  1. And you're still awesome in spite of it all.

  2. Go on Josh, go eat jelly and win this! Love Steven S.

  3. Good luck with the BEACOPP, man. I wish you the best. Much love.