Abi has just completed one year of chemotherapy. Before she began chemo‘, I was unbelievably nervous about her taking such powerful drugs. Whereas now, the irony is I’m incredibly nervous about her not having them! But as Abi has done brilliantly on her weekly doses of Vinblastine, despite the odd hiccup, I would have gladly continued chemo’ indefinitely. She’s so well! Her tumours have either shrunk or remained stable, and she has added more than half her own body weight this past year; up from a worrying 16kg to a much healthier 25kg.
Besides, Abi’s Oncologist told me that when two consecutive scans have shown no more shrinkage, there’s no real reason to continue giving chemotherapy. As Abi’s blood neutrophils and white blood cells remained quite low throughout treatment, the break would give her immune system a chance to recover from what was, effectively, poison. Thankfully, her latest blood counts, taken just a week or so ago, and a fortnight after treatment stopped, seemed to suggest that her body had already recovered well. That meant that if Abi’s tumours progressed to the point that she needed to go back on chemotherapy, she would be able to cope. Anyway, it’s not as though her doctors weren’t doing anything; Abi would continue to be scanned every three months, so she would be carefully monitored.
When people have said to me (as they often have): “I don’t know how you have managed this past year!” I’ve often thought: “what’s the big deal?” After all, Abi’s breezed through her treatment. I don’t believe that we grasped the enormity of what was happening because our weekly hospital visits became part of our normality. It’s been easy to forget that many people have a negative view of chemotherapy. I did too! I think we were lucky that Abi’s Oncologist was open to using a drug that is not considered quite so effective as the standard protocol of Carboplatin and Vincristine, but has far fewer known side effects. Had Abi been given the more aggressive standard therapy and suffered hearing loss or neuropathy, I might not have been quite so effusive.
All-in-all, despite a tough start, we’ve had an excellent year of treatment and Abi is doing great. In fact, she looks as well as I’ve ever seen her. So much so, I’ve changed my perspective entirely; Chemotherapy is not the demon I imagined it to be. In fact, quite the opposite; it has enabled Abi to thrive.