Sandwich Thereapy – Phase 1 Complete

Everything I have read has shown me that women with aggressive endometrial cancer who undergo “sandwich therapy” treatment have an 80% survival rate with no reoccurrence of cancer.  Sandwich therapy involves undergoing chemotherapy, followed by radiation, followed finally by another round of chemo cycles.

I completed Phase 1 yesterday – in which I completed the third cycle of my first round of chemo.  Each round of chemo consisted of three cycles.  And I’m done that part – 1/3 of the way through.  Yay!

I also met with my radiation oncologist yesterday, and we set about the planning phase for radiation therapy.  I will begin radiation on November 5th, and it will be 5 days a week for 15 minutes per day for 5 weeks.  Then I will have three sessions of vaginal cuff radiation (internal) which will last four hours – 3 days of that.  One on a Monday, one on a Thursday, and one the following Monday.  Then I will get three weeks or so off (right around Christmas) before my final three cycles of chemo begin in January.

I had my 2nd CT Scan done yesterday as part of the planning phase, and still no cancer cells are showing up.  Yay!

The day was not without its challenges.  I had an 8am appointment for blood work, followed by a 9am appointment with my GYN ONC, and then a 10am appointment for chemo.   I had scheduled a 3pm appointment for the radiation department to begin planning (and they told me that should only take an hour).  Well, I didn’t get called back to chemo until 10:30.  And then I sat there for 45 minutes just waiting for my premeds (which take 20 minutes).  They totally screwed that up.  They ordered my chemo for Thursday (the 25th) instead of the 22nd.  Then they forgot to pick the meds up from the pharmacy.  I informed them three times that I had a 3pm appointment with radiation.  My chemo didn’t get started until noon.  I start with the Taxel, which takes 3 hours for infusion and then follow it with Carboplatin which takes half an hour.  You do the math.

I sent my husband down to radiation to let them know I’d be late, but the girl covering lunch just told him “yeah yeah yeah – just come down when she’s done” but she didn’t get our name or anything.  An hour or so later, Beth (the NP) from Dr. Rao’s office came by and she said she’d call them and let them know I was running behind.  Well apparently radiation got three calls.  And pushed my appointment back until 5.  We got there at 3:45.  Sigh.  They called me back by 4, and I met with Dr. Sharma to go over the plan and sign the consent form.  Then they brough me the cocktail for the CT Scan (blech).  I drank that down by 4:30.  And then I sat there until 5:30 waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting some more.  They were backed up.  Finally, at 5:45, I was back in the room for the planning phase.

I was laid on the table, and given a very large q-tip intravaginally to apply contrast to the end of my vagina.  I was straightened and moved, and a mold was made of my legs.  Then they ran me through an initial scan to “see where things were” and finally the full CT Scan.  Then they drew on me with a sharpie, and placed markers (waterproof tape with bulls eyes on them) in three spaces.  All I could think of was “Set phaser to eradicate!!”  I was done by 6:20, and we were back at the car by 6:30.  Got home from Baltimore at 7:30.  So we were out of the house for 13 hours yesterday.  Sigh.

I have been cleared to go back to work November 5th and I’m excited about that prospect.  I’m getting tired of sitting at home.  Now mind you, this week is going to suck.  I don’t handle chemo well.  Tomorrow and Thursday will be bad.  I don’t feel great today, but I do have to go to the pharmacy to pick up a pain-killer to battle the arthritis pain.  Chemo really inflames my arthritis, and causes me to have migraines on top of the nausea.  Thankfully I have compazine and zofran to combat the nausea, and as long as I stay on my schedule with those, I can keep it at bay.  I was just so very glad to get a break from chemo for a while.  I have hard time getting them to find a vein they can use, so today my arms are sore.  In addition, they gave me my flu shot yesterday with what looked like a needle they’d use to give a horse a tranquilizer.  Clearly my nurse was filling in from another department.  My shoulder is killing me – looks like I went a couple of rounds with Mohammad Ali.

But now I get a little break.

And I’m still cancer free y’all.  A-freaking-men.

Honestly though, I do with this sandwich therapy included authentic Philly cheese steaks instead of chemo.  That would be awesome.

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