Cancer Updates IRL

A Delay & Setback With Chemotherapy

We’re off to a bumpy start..

The night before I was supposed to check in to the hospital to start my new round of chemotherapy, I came down with a fever so I got permission from my Oncologist to push back the chemotherapy a couple of days to hopefully shake it off.

The fever was just the head of the cavalcade of alternating symptoms over the next 8 days that followed. Fever was replaced with an intense brain fog one day, stomach pains substituted the day after, and so on to include back pains, more fever, and more stomach pains.

In fact, I’ve felt these symptoms after contracting dengue in the past and my General Practitioner seemed to agree too so I was doing at-home treatments for hydration and paracetamol to keep the fever and body pains down.

After 8 days and not seeing much progress and testing negative for Dengue fever twice, I looked at my wife and told her that I want to be checked into the hospital after waking up with a crushing stomach ache that morning. During this whole ordeal, I could barely eat anything and was really limited to a liquid diet that resulted in about 4.1 KGs / 9 LBs of weight loss. Yikes! 

I will also admit that during this time, I was very stubborn about checking myself into the hospital earlier because I was also keen on the idea that this is dengue (as I have had it before) and it is more comfortable to be treated at home rather than the hospital as there are no anti-viral medications you can be prescribed for it. 

This past Saturday (July 16, 2022) was when I checked myself into the hospital, finally. I was extremely dehydrated and malnourished by the time I plopped down on the bed in my hospital room at around Noon. By this point, I had only eaten a couple of crackers, 1-2 glasses of water, and a glass of water with Berocca (an effervescent tablet with vitamins). I was not in good shape at all.

The nurses quickly started a saline drip and also administered some gastritis medication and a steroid as prescribed by my Oncologist, and within a couple of hours, I started the feel the warmth in my body and I could start thinking clearly again for the first time in days. Hallelujah! 

Later that same day, my Oncologist visited me in my hospital room and gave me some bad news.

It seems that over the course of the last 8 or so days, the level of Bilirubin (a yellowish pigment that is made during the normal breakdown of red blood cells during digestion) has risen to an unsafe level that makes me unfit for chemotherapy. 

This spike is likely due to the blockage of the biliary duct that I spoke about in this post so I am now compelled to get a stent in order for the Bilirubin levels in my blood to normalize so chemotherapy is back on the table again.

It was tough news to hear considering it had only been 9 or so days and this unexpected escalation has now spawned a speed bump ahead before I get the chemotherapy that I need. Since I was feeling better, I was allowed to go home to rest and told to meet with a Surgeon who can perform the stent procedure as soon as possible.

On the plus side, I’ve been feeling a lot better since being discharged 48 hours ago. I’m still taking some steroids along with some anti-nausea and gastritis medications which are providing a lot of relief. My energy levels are back and I can finally eat much more than I could have when I was sick.

Fast forward a couple of days to today, I met with the Surgeon who is going to perform the procedure and he walked me through what is to come. What he plans to do is an endoscopic procedure to install a fully covered metal biliary stent that will ensure that the flow of bile through the liver remains unobstructed while the cover will act as further protection for the stent against any blockages from the tumor growths.

The procedure is scheduled for tomorrow (July 19, 2022) afternoon and should last around 30 – 45 minutes but I will need to remain in the hospital overnight for observation in case of complications or if I develop any unexpected pancreatitis the next morning.

So here we go! We’re off to a bumpy start but hopefully getting this stent now will make chemotherapy an option very soon.

Keep your fingers (and all of your toes) crossed for me!