Cisplatin, gemcitabine

My chemotherapy runs as a set of six three-week cycles. Day 1 is spent in the oncology out-patients ward, hooked up to an IV drip from around 9AM to near 6PM. This starts with anti-sickness drugs and some steroids, then some saline through the IV, and then some big chemo guns: gemcitabine and cisplatin. Finally, more saline to flush everything through.

This adds up to a lot of fluid, so I have to go to the bathroom every 20 or 30 minutes throughout the day.

The steroids in the morning help buffer me for the day of the chemo, and I get another three days’ worth to help cushion me afterwards. The couple of days after that, though, are tough: the effects are like a body hangover that lasts for most of a week – wearing off (more or less) just in time for the second session: day 8, a half-day repeat of day 1 without the cisplatin.

The week after that is day 15, and nothing happens until the three-week cycle starts again.

At the start I felt surprisingly good. The steroids helped of course, but chemotherapy is a cumulative treatment; each cycle is harder to shake off. The first thing I found was that I couldn’t drink any beer; the combination of chemo poison and the alcohol (also poison, technically) was a really bad combination. After four cycles it’s harder to function between sessions, and my immune system is close to non-existent. In the end that caught me out big-time, but not until I’d finished the full set of chemo sessions.

I had very little problems with appetite, let alone full-blown nausea. That’s partly because I was reasonably fit and healthy going into the chemo, but mainly thanks to the buffering, soothing effects of taking cannabis. Even if cannabis only helps relieve symptoms it should be given medals for how well it does that! And it does seem overpoweringly likely that it’s also part of the reason why I got such dramatically and unexpectedly good results in my CT scans.

Additional three-month-later note: chemotherapy is heavy stuff. My unusually high tolerance, whatever produced that (hint: cannabis), left me somewhat unprepared for how much it would affect me by the end and afterwards. I’m now, as of this additional note, a little over two months past the last chemo session and I’m still at risk of infection and have little energy. Being systemically poisoned has consequences… who knew? 🙂

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