I finished my radiation today–just in time to start chemotherapy.
Having made the decision to try my first stem cell transplant (SCT) in June, the plan is to use a three drug “chemo cocktail” for pre-transplant induction.
The combination of Revlimid, Velcade and dexamethasone (RVD) should help bring my tumor burden down close to zero in a matter of a few short months–at least that’s the plan!
My multiple myeloma has always been sensitive to most any therapy. But after four years on Revlimid, it had started creeping back.
Unfortunately, as my myeloma slowly raised my M-spike, it also began attacking my bones. Even though my M-spike (which measures the amount of monoclonal protein produced by the myeloma cells in my body) is only a low .6–I guess someone forgot to notify my myeloma it wasn’t supposed to be so active yet.
The good news is my myeloma seems to grow very slowly. The bad news is it apparently doesn’t need to achieve very high numbers in order to do a number on my bones.
So here I sit–laptop balancing on a swivel stool–waiting for the first official “stick” of the Spring, 2011 pre-transplant RVD induction tour!
A slim, middle aged nurse, named Terre’ just introduced herself, and gave me a quick, introductory “chemo 101” course. I think I lucked-out with this one… Terre seems professional and competent. I will withhold my official opinion until she gets my IV started! I had better hit the “hibernate setting” while she does her thing.
I’m back. After taking a one inch pile of info about chemo, dex and Velcade, I signed several consent forms. Terre was concerned I didn’t have a port yet. She feels the Velcade is going to “do a number” on my veins. So she started low on my hand, literally between my fingers. Terre is old school. You start as low on the hand/wrist as you can, so as your veins become unuseable, the tech can continue by moving up the arm.
That’s discouraging. I’m not sure if I will need a port for my transplant or not, since my stem cells are already harvested. I will check with Dr. Alsina tomorrow.
The IV stick was painful. She warned me that would be the case, based on the spot she chose. All things considered, Terre did an excellent job! I hope she works with me on Thursday.
But the IV itself was anti-climatic. 20 minutes to drain my small, clear IV bag of dex, then a quick IV push of Velcade. 10 minutes later I was finished.
Before she started with the Velcade, I asked if she could just refund the $4000 or so it cost, instead. Terre didn’t even pause. “Can’t do that.” she said with a rye smile. “Worth a try!” I repeated.
All of this is taking place at the Florida Cancer Institute New Hope, which is located about 50 minutes north of Tampa–and only 10 minutes from my home in Weeki Wachee.
It’s an efficient set-up. You walk in a set of sliding glass doors. Immediately in front of you is a long, curved reception counter. To the left are several lines of chairs for those waiting to “glow in the dark” and get their radiation therapy. To the right, another set of chairs for those of us needing infusion.
When I walked in this afternoon, I went left without thinking. After all, I had been doing that for over two weeks on my way to radiation.
But for the next 10 weeks, I will be seated on the right side of the clinic stable. I will still be able to chat with the busy, but helpful gals in reception. But this time it will be before or after my chemotherapy IV.
I do know this: My body tends to react strongly at first to new medication and therapy changes. Then it seems to adjust and settle down. I will let you know how I feel throughout all of this over the next few days. Stay tuned.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat