Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Next Chapter Begins...

Today is the last day of no chemo for the next 12 months. What a yucky sentence to write. But, I have to remind myself that chemo equals cure and the sooner we get there the better. Forester's next regimen is a bit confusing so I will try to spell it out as best I can. It's been hard for us to remember it! Forester is about to begin 6, 28 day cycles. So, this is what the next 6 months will look like for us.

Forester will be receiving 4 separate chemotherapy drugs. On day 1 (of 28) Forester will be admitted to the hospital and he will receive Isotretinoin (chemo) by mouth, Cisplatin (chemo) via port for 6 hours, and Vincristine(chemo) via port for 2 minutes. On Day 2 and 3 he will receive Cyclophosphamide (chemo) via port for over an hour. On day 4 he will receive GCSF for 10 days via port or shot which helps his white blood cell count recover. On day 5 (Friday) he gets to go home. On day 8 (Monday) we return to Hem-Oc clinic where he will receive Vincristine via port and return home later in the day. On days 16-28 he will take Isotretinoin by mouth 2 times a day, completing the 28 day cycle. Then we will repeat this cycle 5 more times.

I am once again going to list all the possible side effects from these drugs so that you can be praying specifically against them - please!! But, before I do that, I have to PRAISE GOD and thank you for your prayers. These are the side effects from Carboplatin that Forester did NOT encounter: abdominal pain, mouth sores, damage to his ears/hearing loss, change in vision, damage to his liver or kidneys! He only experienced the common side effects. He is done with that drug (and radiation) and we thank you for praying!!

Possible side effects from Isotretinoin:

Common: Dry skin, dry, cracked, bleeding lips, increased tendency to sunburn, bloody nose from dry membranes, aches and pains in the joints, back pain, increase in calcium in the blood.

Less likely: Rash and itching, increase in cholesterol, red eyes, elevation in the blood of certain enzymes which may cause liver damage, Lower red & white blood cells, too many platelets in the blood, hair loss, loss of appetite, weight loss, darkening or lightening of the skin, increase in blood sugar levels, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, numbness & tingling in the fingers and toes, changes in vision, swelling, chest pain, inflammation of the gums, slowed growth, dry throat, mild kidney damage, extra bone growth - deposits.

Rare but serious: severe allergic reaction which can be life threatening, irritation of the airways making you cough and wheeze, skin breakdown, convulsions. brain swelling, severe headache, changes in vision, depression, osteoporosis, inflammation of the pancreas & severe abdominal pain; possibly life threatening, diarrhea & bleeding.

Possible side effects of Cisplatin:

Common: nausea & vomiting, lower red & white blood cells, abnormal amounts of magnesium in the body, loss of appetite, damage to the ear causing difficulty in hearing high pitched sounds, temporary mild increases in certain chemicals in the blood because the kidneys are not working as well as normal.

Less likely: abnormal body salts, Metallic taste, rash, numbness & tingling in fingers and toes, temporary vision changes, damage to the ears causing balance problems and ringing in the ears, increased enzyme levels in the liver, inflammation of the port/vein.

Rare but serious: Allergic reaction that could be life threatening, permanent damage to the kidneys, deafness, seizures, blurred vision & color blindness, decrease in muscle & nerve function that may affect normal functions such as walking, Leukemia later in life.

Possible side effects of Cyclophosphamide:

Common: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, low white blood cell count, hair loss, decreased ability to fight infection, decrease in the number of sperm which could decrease the ability to have children.

Less likely: Abnormal hormone function, abdominal pain, diarrhea, low red blood cell count, bleeding & inflammation of the urinary bladder, temporary blurred vision, nasal stuffiness, skin rash, darkening areas of the skin, slow healing and infections.

Rare but serious: Heart muscle damage which could be fatal, abnormal heart rhythms, damage and scarring to the lungs making you short of breath, Leukemia, damage or scarring to the bladder, Allergic reaction which could be life threatening, infertility.

Possible side effects of Vincristine: (this is one of the drugs Forester has already been on)

Likely: hair loss, reversible nerve problems that may affect the way you walk and the feelings in your fingers and toes (neuropathy), constipation (Forester has experienced all of these - only mild neuropathy though).

Less likely: Jaw pain, headache, muscle weakness, abdominal pain, numbness & tingling, wrist or foot drop, drooping eyelids, double vision, abnormal walk with foot slapping, difficulty with urination, dizziness, abnormal hormone function, drop in white cells. (so far, Forester has only had the drooping eyelids).

Rare but serious: Intestinal blockage, nearby damage of tissue near port site, vocal cord paralysis, difficulty breathing, inability to walk, decreased ability to hear, damage to the optic nerve, damage to the liver (Forester hasn't experienced ANY of these -PTL!).

If you don't mind, PLEASE print this out, stick it on your fridge and pray specifically that Forester will not experience these side effects. If that is too overwhelming, please pray protection over his EARS & HEARING, his EYES & VISION, his LIVER, his KIDNEYS and BLADDER and protection from exposure to illness and infection. It seems all these drugs could affect those areas. Also, Forester has had such a hard time with the vomiting. He's been off of chemo/radiation for 7 weeks and yet he vomited yesterday morning. His system is just not normal and I am praying & ask you to pray, in spite of what is supposed to happen, that Forester's nausea & vomiting will at least remain the same and not get worse. Ugh, Lord, please protect Forester's little body!

In spite of all that yuckiness written above, I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe He is interceding for us at the right hand of God. I KNOW my God can heal. I KNOW my God can do the impossible. I choose to believe this no matter the circumstance. Will you join me? We will pray our way through this fight together! We couldn't do it without you.

All my gratitude and love,



candace said...

Just wanted you to know we are praying.
Stuart had a similar regimen as Forester. He did a 21 day cycle with 6 days inpatient and the rest at our oncology clinic.
Our testimony with regards to the side effects:
God does protect.
Everytime they would hang a bag of chemo I would pray this simple prayer: "Lord, let this be 100% death to cancer and 100% life for the rest of Stuart's body. Let's it only cause harm to the cancer in Jesus' name"
Stuart had massive amounts of cyclophosphamide and vincristine (along with 8 other chemo drugs) He did get nausea and the other "very common" side effects. He does have neuropathy in his fingers and toes (although not as bad as it "should be", but no serious side effects - no damage to heart, kidneys, liver - no allergic reactions. We are praying his fertility will come back.
The Cross is between the chemo and Forester. Jesus lives to take the brunt of this for Forester. Everything has to filter through Him.
We pray against any plan of the enemy and ask Christ's protection for Forester's life and body and mind and childhood.
May God's kingdom (rule and reign) come in this situation and his nurture and sustaining power come to you all to get through this long period.
The time FLEW by for was hard, but God's grace was there to walk it out and the days flew by.
You will be on the side of "no chemo" before you know it".
Praying from Atlanta as we continue to recover (2 weeks post completion of our 7 month journey!)
Love to your family.
Candace and Stuart Smartt

Callie Smith said...

I join ya girl! We are praying!

Kelly said...

Hi Whit! Praying for Forester and for your family as well!

The Gatherum Family said...

Absolutely count on our prayers and the prayers of my WHOLE family. I told them all about little Forester and your beautiful family...

Sam and Laurie Knowles said...

We are continuing to pray for Forester and you as you walk through this journey! I am printing out the list of side effects so we can pray specifically. Lots of love...The Knowles family

Aunt Brenda said...

I love the sweet prayer that Candace said for her Stuart. I will make this my prayer for Forester and hold all of you in my heart. I love you. Aunt B