Oncology – first appointment

Having not had much clue as to how this appointment would go, it went pretty much as I had imagined!  It was really a chance to talk things over.  Initially we discussed why chemo had been suggested, which might sound daft as I’m sat in the oncology department, but it was quite useful to have it explained very specifically.  Basically, as we know that it has started to spread that’s why it’s necessary.  There were lots of questions, as you’d expect, about my general health.  I suffer from visual migraines and one of the drugs in the combination might be a bit of an issue there, so they will know to keep tabs on that.  They also need to know whether I have been through the menopause (no idea) because the chemo will likely trigger menopausal symptoms, and the hormone therapy they want me to have does the same.  They also asked about family cancer history, and there was some concern about 3 close relatives suffering from bladder cancer about 6 years ago all pretty much at the same time (my Dad in fact died from this).  I would not have expected this to cause the concern it did, so important to know to mention everything.  I will have another referral to a genetics clinic now to complete one of their huge questionnaires.  I also mentioned my issue with finding veins for blood, and he was very pleased that I’d be needing a PICC line – I’m guessing this makes things much easier for the medical staff as well!

He then told me what combination I would be having.  It’s called FEC-T and has 2 parts to it.  The first 3 cycles will be the FEC bit, and the second 3 the T bit.  Each cycle will be 3 weeks.  We talked in detail about possible side effects, and I’ve been warned that the second set of cycles are likely to be more difficult than the first.  I will lose my hair, so he has already asked for an appointment with their wig shop.  Not sure how I feel about a wig, but I will definitely keep the appointment.  I may have been a bit slow on the uptake, but realised that I’d also lose my eyebrows, and for some reason that is really bothering me.  It looks likely that the wig place will also be able to advise on that as well – phew.

We talked about where I would have my chemo, as there were also options here.  There are 3 locations, so I have initially chosen one not in the actual main hospital itself – I can change to another location at any time if I want.  Really just trying to think of what’s easiest for people to get me to & also the parking issue.

There was a brief discussion about the use of cold caps – and they were definitely against.  Very little evidence that they have any effect – but one thing they do know is that it slows down the movement of the chemo in the cold area, which might not be good.

In between the chemo sessions I will need additional blood tests, which can be done at my local surgery and then the results sent on, which makes things really handy.

We then talked about when it was likely to start, it might have clashed with the night away my brothers & I have planned for our 50th birthday (I’m a twin).  He is going to push it on a couple of days so we can still have our celebration – I think this also means I’ll hopefully be feeling ok on the actual day & will still have my hair!

Loads of opportunities to ask questions.  I was assured I would be fine to be in work if I felt well enough – no issue with coming into contact with lots of other people (I had wondered if it might be too high an infection risk, but apparently the bulk tend to come from within!)  He said the ideal would be if I could go in flexibly when & for as long as I felt able to – hopefully this will be possible.  I also asked about swimming – I’d read that this was likely to be forbidden – but not so at all!  All the other things I’d noted down had been covered already in some detail.

Finally I was taken into the nurses station for blood tests

While I wait for details of the first session to come through I will try my hardest to be as healthy as I can within reason.  Planning to take lots of exercise (this is not new, I’ve always been pretty active) and eat as well as I can.  This feels very important now – but we’ll see how long I can keep it up!

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