Etoposide, You and Me Aren’t Friends

Bedtime stories on daddy's last night at home.
Bedtime stories on daddy’s last night at home.
This past Thursday night, I continued a tradition that started on December 5th, 2012.  I didn’t now then how long this tradition would last, and it changed a bit over time; however this time I carried out the tradition just as I did on that first night.  On that night I new I was going to be admitted to begin treatment for Leukemia.  I knew I would be away for awhile, although I didn’t know how long.  I picked up each of my children one at a time and told them that daddy would fight.  No matter how long it takes.  No matter how much it hurts.  I would fight and I would come back to them.

As they’ve grown older it’s a bit harder to pick them up while asleep, but I always touch them and have the same speech before I get admitted.  Thursday, October 8th, I carried out the tradition in full and picked each one up and held them in my arms.  Tucker, Daddy is fighting for you so he can see you grow up and we can be buddies for life.  Natalie, I don’t know how long I’ll be gone but I’ll be thinking of you and longing until we can play together again.  Sydney, it doesn’t matter how much this hurts.  It’s all worth it to see your smile and hear your laugh.  And after laying each one of them back down, I gave one final look and left the room.  Ready for the next fight.

Day -7
In the SCT world, the day you receive you new cells is day 0.  Any day before day 0 is a negative day and any day after is a plus day.  So yesterday was Day -7 and today is day -6.  Day -7 started off easy enough.  I checked in at registration and then went to Interventional Radiology to get my central line placed.  I got some good drugs, but not quite as  much as I though I would get.  Nothing hurt, but I could definitely feel the line getting pulled through and inserted.  After that, I was transported to the Bone Marrow Transplant unit to await my chemo.

Etoposide isn’t my favorite chemo ever.  I mean, I don’t think I have a favorite chemo, but if I was going to rank order them Etoposide would be at the bottom.  In defense of Etoposide, I did receive a really really big dose.  My target does was 60 mg/kg, which would have been 6,540 mg.  Due to policy and not wanting to kill me, the actual dose was 5,530 mg.  In the video below, you can see the globs of Etoposide fall into the normal saline.  Kinda like a lava lamp, but without the good endorphins when you watch it.

Now, I’m no pharmacist but I did look up typical doses of Etoposide when it is used daily to treat different types of cancers.  The largest dose I could find was for consolidation treatment of AML and that was 250mg/m2/day.  I’m roughly 2.4 m2 so that would be 600 mg per day for 3 days, or 1800 mg total.  And I received 3 times that total amount over 4 hours.  Ya, bad things were bound to happen.

Etoposide Side Effects
Now in the grand scheme of things, these side effects weren’t too bad.  For awhile there I was sweating a whole lot and turning a lot in bed.  I just couldn’t get comfortable and every time I’d wipe my forehead, more sweat would instantly appear.  This went on for a bit before it started to subside and that’s when I felt the rumbly in my tumbly.  I’ve felt nasueous on chemo before so that wasn’t anything new.  You just hold on and try to think of other things.  I also find that if I snack on graham crackers or other items that helps.  But this rumbly was on a whole different level and added a brand new side effect for me.  As the kids would say, I pooked.  I was actually trying to pee in the plastic urinal when it all went down, or came up, so to speak.  I did a quick look a the toilet, which had a blue cover over it since I am getting chemo.  Nope, not gonna make that.  Then I looked down at the trash can that was already full of trash.  Nope, to much chance for blow back.  So I went with the 3rd option which was the sink.  And then proceeded to fill the sync pretty full with what was definitely my dinner.  I puked 3 more times that night.  Nothing too debilitating, but nothing to fun either.  So far today I’m feeling somewhat nauseous but not pukey, so that’s good.

Day -6
Aside from the puking that started day -6 and the nausea that has lingered, day -6 hasn’t been too bad.  Day -5 will be another rest day, because in the words of my nurse “when you get  a dose of chemo that big, you need 2 days of rest.”  On Day -4 we will start the total body irradiation. I’m sure I’ll have more fun experience to share from that.  Until then, I hope you all enjoy your Day -5 and make the most of it!

A Duck Dynasty Prayer
Well we’re off to a good start.  Or at least as good of a start as can be expected.  I know darker days are coming, but I also know no matter how dark those days get, your light can overcome them.  I am never in total darkness with you God.  Let me see your light and hold on to that glimpse of you.  As I toss and turn in my bed, let me realize it’s just for the moment.  And that your light will overtake the darkness.  Thank you for all the support we have.  All the gifts, all the well wishes, all the notes/texts of encouragement.  I thank you for it all.  As I battle these next days, weeks and months I know you are by my side.  Thank you for another day.

10 thoughts on “Etoposide, You and Me Aren’t Friends

  1. So thankful you are on the other side of day -7 and have a small respite before the radiation begins. I’m looking forward to loving on Sydney, Natalie and Tucker next weekend as we help mom wig them for a few days. We have lots of fun planned to keep them busy and of course our kids can’t wait to play with their cousins. Love you and Linz so much and we are praying you through this. Praying for Dom too and his health and safety during this week as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so grateful last night is over, and you are feeling “better”. What good description you provide for a situation none of us want you to be in, but a situation for which we are so in awe of your strength and determination. For you to be able to write in your blog after that type of night is amazing. I pray for your good sleep tonight, for your better “rest” day tomorrow, and for the minus days to soon bring about the plus days. Prayers always for you my dear son. I love you so much! Mom

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yiou are in our thoughts and prayers during this time. Anyone who has been through Chemo, know that it isn’t fun, but if it keeps cancer at bay, it’s worth it. Glad you have some rest before the radiation. Keep looking forward to day 0 and a new beginning and future without cancer!
    Blessings to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re in my prayers, dear Rob. Every hour is one hour closer to Day Zero, and then you get to start counting on the PLUS side. Your spirit, determination, and FAITH inspire me (and I’m certain, many other people) every day. You’re in God’s hands, and there’s no better place. Blesssings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am sorry you are not feeling very well with this part of it but keep looking toward the end goal to be cancer free, stronger, and lots of time ahead with that wife and young’uns. Praying for you all daily!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rob (and Lindsey), Praying God’s strength for you both as you continue through this ordeal. Thank you for sharing what it is like for those of us who have never experienced such torture. You make it so much easier to pray knowledgeably. I have only three words for you: DIE CANCER DIE!!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Your strength and faith are an inspiration to us and all who follow your journey. We are praying for these minus days pass with minimum unpleasantness for you. God does hold you in the palm of His hand. Plus days are jus around the corner. Love the picture of you with your precious children.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh Rob if I had a magic wand and could take this over for you I would. I am sitting here crying my eyes out and begging God for His love and comfort for you. Those rumbling attacks happen at the worse times. I had many of those although I never felt that I could freely share the gory details. What one goes thru killing off one thing so that life can go on.

    You are such a special person and you have a beautiful soul. I am so proud to be your Aunt and appreciate the love and humilty you teach us all with your experience. You learn in life that things don’t matter. You learn that there are those whom you thought loved you but turn their backs on you. Thre are those who you thought were just an acquaintance but they become you r angels of mercy. But none of that matters. What matters is when you have totally turned yourself over to God and let Him do what He hss planned for you and accept to carry the cross of Jesus that you see all the blessings in life. Life is so precious and we do not have a second to spare. As I have said before, you have been accepted as a leader in God’s army and I bid you to march on christian soldier. Your reward is awaiting you and you have touched so many lives.

    I will continue to hold you, Lindsey, and the kids in prayer. I love y’all with all my heart.

    Aunt Liz

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Praying for you guys- Rob and family. I’m sitting here at work reading this and enjoying my coffee. You are an inspiration to me today to enjoy my day and make the most of it. Which means- doing my best in my work walking challenge- “Walktober” and making time to enjoy the gifts that good Lord has given me- like my dogs and the sunrise.


    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rob, you are truly an inspiration to us all. The way you face each day and share it with us is amazing. I’m praying for those plus days and the day when you are cancer free forever. Praying for your strength through this all and comfort for you and your loving family!

    Liked by 1 person

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