So the first injection has been done. Amazing amount of safety checks and briefings before the actual jab was administered!
First, loads of blood samples were taken to check I was in a fit state to have the injection. Then weighing me to work out dosage (just call me “Dump Truck” for those of you who are fans of Sumo wrestling…). Finally, a lengthy explanation of what was going to happen, what precautions I need to take for the 7 days immediately following the injection – being “Radioactive Man” has its drawbacks – followed by some waiting around for the results of the blood tests.
I confess my stress levels were high when I arrived at the hospital due to both apprehension about the injection process – especially the insertion of the cannula (i hate those things!) – and our journey from home which took much longer than planned due to traffic issues. Still, we made it within my designated time slot and I even managed to sort out the weird concessionary parking permit system as well.
Needn’t have fretted about the cannula as I hardly felt it when they stuck the thing in my wrist, and most of the rest of my time at the hospital was spent between the waiting room and the cafeteria.
Didn’t have too long a wait before the test results were in and it was time for the injection. Didn’t feel anything other than my arm went a bit cold. Oddly, I had to do some physical jerks – arm waving and walking on the spot – as this is needed to get the radium circulating round my body. The nurse showed me it’s progress via a radiation meter (disappointingly it didn’t click like in the movies!) and then gave me a final pre-departure briefing on how to make sure there was no risk of anyone coming into contact with radiation expelled from my bladder or bowels for the 7 days following the injection. We’re lucky we have multiple toilets at home so I’ve taken over one for the next 7 days; must be tricky if you only have one toilet and several people in the house.
I was warned I might feel a bit sick, have diarrhoea and feel washed out after the treatment. Well, that kind of sums up how I am on quite a regular basis and so far it’s the “washed out” bit that’s making me feel grim.
I’ll add a further update in a few days.
So as part of the prep for my upcoming Radium 223 injections I had to have a series of blood tests. One test was to check my current PSA level ahead of treatment starting and, unfortunately, my PSA has jumped from 10.1 to 20.1 over the past 4 weeks – this is not great news.
I had a pretty bleak day when I found out. It always seems that every time I get myself into a position where I’m not constantly fretting about my illness then something happens that says “Hi there! This is your cancer calling. Just wanted to keep you from enjoying yourself and remind you that I’m still here and doing my best to spread further.”
I also found out that the other blood tests were to check if I’m actually suitable for the course of Radium 223 injections. Apparently some people just can’t have them so on top of the PSA rise, I’m now fretting whether I fall into this category. Super!
It’s on days like these that I want to throw something at the TV when those adverts come on showing people getting better after their encounter with cancer, and doing things like clubbing, swimming, running and all with big, smug smiles on their faces. I often wonder how many of these people are just actors and how many have actually dealt with the illness in person. I know deep down I don’t wish them or anyone else bad, but for me these cheesy ads suck big time.
I guess part of my problem in dealing with the ups and downs of living with cancer is that I’m a structured and logical person who likes instructions, rules, processes, etc. and now having to deal with this big thing in my life which doesn’t have a manual and which I can’t just ignore has been a struggle. I know from talking with people at the local hospice that everyone who has cancer has to find a way of dealing with it that works for them, and that there definitely isn’t a “one size fits all” approach, so I just have to keep chugging along and keep my fingers crossed that I can have the Radium 223 injections, that they are effective in dealing with the tumours in my bones, and that my PSA returns to a more acceptable level. Watch this space.
So having found out I’d made a hash of drawing up a suitable injection schedule (see earlier post), I’ve now corrected this and worked out that I’ll be having the course of 6 injections on Tuesdays starting end of Feb. Teach me to get all cocky about how I can still write an Excel formula from scratch…
I’ve had a really helpful dialogue with the team at Mount Vernon hospital who will be administering the injections. They answered all of my questions and have allayed (somewhat) my concerns. Apparently this is a common treatment and the incidence of issues or serious side-effects is low. I know I’ll still worry about things until the treatment is underway, but hopefully I’ll be worrying about the things I typically fret over – e.g. will having a cannula inserted in my wrist be as painful as in the past, will the injection itself be painful, will I feel ill afterwards, will I manage to sort out the cheap rate parking that cancer patients are entitled to at Mount Vernon.
I also confirmed with the team that it will be OK if one of my injections is on the Thursday of the week when it’s due rather than the Tuesday. This was pretty important as on the Wednesday that week I’m going out for the day with my lovely lady to an annual event, and we didn’t want to miss it if at all possible.
To help get things ready for the injection course to start, yesterday I had the first of what I expect to be frequent blood tests over the coming 6 months. I’m not a fan of needles, but time and time again the folks at the blood clinic in my local hospital manage to drain the required amount of blood with minimum discomfort. On this occasion they needed to fill 3 tubes (instead of the usual 1) but I hardly felt anything. I keep saying to them they should get the hospital to install one of those gadgets with 4 coloured buttons that allow you to register how you felt about your “experience”; if they did I’d definitely be hitting that Green button on my way out!
Next on the prep list is a dummy run over to the hospital during rush hour so I can figure out at what time I’ll need to leave when the day to start the injections comes around. M25 at 7:30 am doesn’t sound ideal…
Today I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to come up with a viable schedule for the course of Radium 223 injections that will hopefully suppress the tumours in my spine and pelvis.
I will be undergoing this treatment at Mount Vernon Hospital and they have provided me with a few constraints that meant scheduling the injections wasn’t straightforward.
First, the injections can only be carried out on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Second, for a period of 7 days after the injection I will be radioactive so can’t be in close proximity of children and pregnant women. Given we have a couple of holidays coming up in late February and early March, both of which involve air travel, it’s not been a straightforward planning exercise. But I think I now have a schedule that works – hopefully when I share it with the team at Mount Vernon they’ll agree.
I don’t have too much information as yet on the likely side effects of the injections other than I should expect some nausea and loose(r) bowel movements. Great…
As I find out more I’ll update this part of the Blog.
I am a 67 year-old retired IT Transition Director who discovered in 2012 that I had prostrate cancer. I underwent Brachytherapy (iodine seed implant) treatment in early 2013 and it appeared that the cancer had been eradicated.
Not so. In 2014 I found out the cancer had spread beyond my prostrate and that there was no cure for this, only various treatments to try and halt its progress. These started with quarterly hormone injections to prevent my body generating testosterone – prostrate cancer cells “feed” on this – and after a year or so these injections were supplemented with daily Bicalutamide tablets to provide a complete blockade of testosterone.
Although these treatments worked for a while, over time they have started to lose their effectiveness and I recently discovered I am developing tumours in my spine and pelvis. Additional, harsher treatments are now called for to try and reverse the growth of theses tumours and deter others from starting.
I have not found it easy living with this illness or dealing with the side effects of the treatments. It has been particularly frustrating having to listen to people telling me things like “Oh, don’t worry you’ll be OK – it’s only prostrate cancer and they cure that these days”.
So I’ve started this Blog to try and provide a realistic, layman’s view of things. Maybe it will help other people who are unfortunate enough to have to deal with advanced metastasised prostrate cancer to prepare themselves, and to know that they aren’t the only ones in this situation.
Today I’m launching my Blog. If you visit the About page you’ll find some information about who I am and why I’ve started this Blog. I doubt it will be the most exciting thing you’ve ever seen but maybe there will be some items of interest from time to time.
If you do decide to comment, please be polite and courteous. Thanks.