Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Some Good News

Our eagerly and anxiously awaited appointment with Prof. John Wong took place yesterday! 


He congratulated Lin on completing his six cycles of chemotherapy, albeit this was completed on 31 January 2011 rather than the originally scheduled 18 November 2010 - an extension of two and a half months.


The main culprit was the ANC (NOT as some of you had jested, the African National Congress!).
ANC: The absolute neutrophil count, the number of white blood cells (WBCs) that are neutrophils.


Low/compromised immune levels invariably cause delays in administering chemotherapy and so it was with Lin.


Things improved slightly when the dosage of the chemotherapy drugs was reduced and then, again, after Oxaliplatin was dropped from the 'cocktail'.


In fact, his last two chemotherapy sessions  (16 January and 31 January 2011) were according to plan! Let's hope (and pray) that this is a good sign.


After Lin was pocked and prodded and offered up his palms for inspection, Prof. Wong talked us through a Survivorship Care Plan which you can find here:
http://www.asco.org/ASCOv2/Practice+%26+Guidelines/Quality+Care/Quality+Measurement+%26+Improvement/Chemotherapy+Treatment+Plan+and+Summary/Colon+Cancer+Treatment+Plan+and+Summary+Resources?cpsextcurrchannel=1


Lest I bore you, anyone who is interested should visit:
http://www.cancer.net/portal/site/patient


Another useful site for information about cancer:
http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Home.aspx
Both are clear, concise and easy to understand, a huge help when the last thing anyone (who is already anxious) wants to do is to be even more confused and befuddled.


Things decided: Lin will continue to have 3-monthly check ups / reviews with Prof. Wong, and he will keep his port-a-cath (saves having it taken out and then a new one implanted if the need should arise because of age and the effects of chemo drugs coursing through his veins - basically they become harder to find!). But we must have it flushed clean every four to six weeks.


Bottom line: we will visit Prof. Wong mid-March, and before then Lin will have his blood tested and a colonoscopy too. The latter being his least favourite diagnostic procedure!


Prof. Wong did mention that there is a CT Scan for signs of colon cancer but it does not show up all pre-cancerous growths (i.e. polyps). Also, the benefit of a colonoscopy is that when spotted during the colonoscopy the polyp(s) can be snipped off.


I did a bit of looking around. What the proponents of the virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography) don't tell you is that you still MUST perform the same bowel preparations! 


In addition to missing small polyps, a virtual colonoscopy can result in some false positive results and if any polyps or other abnormalities are noticed, a colonoscopy will be needed (source: cancer.org).


Why risk doing the horrid bowel preparation twice?



    In the meantime, Lin must wait for his neutrophils (the famous ANC) to recover and takes care not to let any infection or injury hamper his recovery.


We are both quietly elated (if one can be elated and quiet at the same time) and looking at our calendars to see when we can make that 'Great Escape' to Hong Kong and Florida!


Do keep your fingers and toes crossed.


PS: Prof. Wong said that yesterday's occasion is the time when he would report this milestone to the referring doctor. In this case, some of you know who was instrumental in Lin being able to become a patient of the most able and competent oncologist one is ever likely to meet. 


We owe a debt of gratitude, which can never be repaid, to this true friend in need.