Now that we have been thrown back into the world of chemotherapy it means that our lives need to become slightly more regimented than we have been used to over the last few years. As this chemotherapy regime is very different to the last we need to make sure that all the cogs in the wheel, so to speak, are working together and that everything runs smoothly.
While the NHS is great and we are extremely grateful for the excellent care both Eleanor and ourselves have received over the last few years, it is so important that as parents we keep on top of everything, when multiple hospitals and services are all working together things can very easily be missed, or assumed!
This particular chemotherapy regime is 52 weeks of weekly treatment called Vinblastine, it is also a ‘count dependant’ chemo so a blood test has to be taken within 48 hours before it is given to ensure the patient is well enough to receive the drug. A full blood count (or an ‘FBC’ if you’re a fan of Holby City or Casualty!) is a panel of tests which examine the different elements of the blood. In Eleanor’s case we are looking predominately at the results of her Platelets and Neutrophils. If they drop below certain levels the chemotherapy is given at a reduced dose or omitted completely. If chemo is given when these counts are too low it can cause severe damage to the bone marrow.
Eleanor has her pre-chemo blood test on a Monday morning and then chemo is given on a Wednesday after school. The blood test is carried out at home by the community nursing team who then deliver the bloods to the lab at our local hospital. Results need to be received by our local hospital by mid-day on the Monday to enable them to be checked, approved by the powers that be and the chemotherapy ordered to have it delivered in time for our arrival on the Wednesday after school. It is all very tight and we are hoping it will all go to plan for the year!
Thankfully we have the backup option of Eleanor’s lead hospital, The Royal Marsden, who do have a lab on-site and can make and deliver chemotherapy within a few hours, but having the chemo at our local hospital makes our lives so much easier and means that Eleanor’s education doesn’t take a hit too!
So here we go. Less than 4 years since diagnosis and Eleanor is starting a second chemotherapy protocol. This tumour really isn’t going to give her an easy ride!
Wish us luck. x