I spoke to Janet last night and here’s the latest:
She said that she’s currently at the “lowest point” in this round of treatment. Her current lab values are:
WBC: 0.2 (because this is so low, she currently has a neutropenic fever of 102°F, but this should abate once her WBC starts to go back up)
ANC: ~0 (she explained to me that these are the body’s defense cells and are currently practically nonexistent)
Platelets: ~45 (This has jumped from 5 to 45 over the past day due to a blood transfusion)
Hematocrit: 28.8 (when this value drops to 27 or below a transfusion is needed)
She summed it up by saying that basically her body’s defenses are nonexistent and that one of the ways this presents is as mucositis (which is an inflammation and ulceration of the digestive tract and is a common adverse effect of chemotherapy). Because of the mucositis she’s had trouble eating and drinking and currently can’t eat whole foods. Because of this she’s experienced some rapid weight loss. She’s been drinking and eating a lot of shakes and yogurt, but even then it hurts to swallow water. She’s been put on a morphine IV every three hours to combat the pain.
She described it as having incredibly bad heart burn, especially in the esophagus, and she’s on special medication for it that she takes before she eats. I thought at first that it was her name for it, but the general name for it, even in the medical field, is “magic mouthwash.” Her’s is a combination of benadryl, lidocane (an anesthetic), and maalox (a coating agent). She also does oral rinses 3-5 times a day in order to keep the pH balance in her mouth.
She said that while this is the low point in the treatment, she should start getting better in the next few days. She said she’s doing okay, and that her parents are visiting her frequently, and otherwise she just tends to sleep a lot. Between the benadryl, morphine (which she said that if they give her too much she throws up, so she’s not worried about getting addicted), and others she spends a lot of time sleeping.
She said this round should only last a few more weeks.
For those of you who can, blood and platelet donations also play a very important role in the treatment of cancer patients (as well as many others!). (Janet’s blood type, for those who asked, is O+, so she can only receive blood transfusions from other O+ and O- blood types.) For those interested, please check out the Red Cross links for more information. You can type in your zip code to find your nearest blood drive or donation center:
Thank you to everyone for your continued support!
My thanks, and lots of love, a TeamJanet transcriber,