Although we were a little disappointed to see Gabrielle back with us this year we are delighted to see that she has maintained her positive attitude. Her last two 'terms' with us were full of challenges but she handled them with determination and humour and we have no reason to believe that this 'term' will be any different.
Gabrielle arrived back with us at the beginning of the year with a CA125 score of 360 but after only one treatment brought this down to 14. At the LOC we would ask that all our ovarian patients achieve a grade of lower than 30 and so were delighted with her early acheivement. Gabrielle has however managed to achieve a score of just 5 this week and deservedly felt very pleased with herself. However, it is important that she understands that it is most unlikely that this score would ever go any lower and she should not become fixated with it, it may indeed go up a small amount but as long as it remains under 30 she should try not to worry.
The rest of Gabrielle's results were pleasing too, in particular her potassium count remains high which is an area that she has sometimes struggled with in the past.
Gabrielle should however continue to concentrate on her immune system. Although her score was higher than last month her white cell count still remains low. She should be particularly careful over the next 8-10 days making sure that there is no sign of a temperature. I am happy to report though that this month it was high enough to negate the need for a blood test next week but we have sent her home with an injection once again which she needs to have 24 hours after leaving us, it's just a small prick and can be administered by Simon. Gabrielle suffered lower back and head pain following the injection last month and should be prepared that the same side effects will occur once more.
We are very happy that Gabrielle's appetite seems to remain strong, although she should be careful to make sure that the weight gain that she experienced this time is not followed by a further gain next month, it doesn't make too much difference to the chemo but her trousers looked tight again! That being said, Simon (her husband's) job of finding some fat to inject into, although never an issue has, it seems, just got even easier!
Gabrielle explained that it was a result of Easter and that she was now back on her health regime. She told us that she had noticed a (negative) change in the way she felt having started to eat more sugar and she should bare this in mind going forward. It is important for us all to watch our sugar intake but Gabrielle needs to take extra care at this time giving her body the best possible chance to fight. We know that her nutritionalist (and husband) Simon, has embarked on a huge health campaign and Gabrielle starts every day with a fresh lemon and ginger drink to help 'alkaline her stomach' and a bicarbonate of soda drink for the same reason. As well as 'obvious' sugary food and processed meats having been removed from the house, non organic products are being replaced by their organic counter parts and that includes the wine! We look forward to Simon's report on some of his findings soon.
As well as seeing us at the LOC Gabrielle has embarked on some alternative treatments such as homeopathy, reflexology, SCENAR, (Self Controlled Energy Neuro Adaptive Regulator) and TM blankets to name but a few. These do not interfere with our treatments and we encourage Gabrielle to explore as many other avenues as she feels comfortable with.
Fabienna - Oncologist Nurse
Gabrielle had a good day at chemo today, the cannula was fitted first time with very little discomfort. She had taken the advice from the previous chemo of drinking more water and this seemed to make a difference. She needs to continue to do this in order to avoid a repeat of the four attempts last time or the fitting of a PICC line which is a permanent tube which is fitted under the arm above the elbow into an artery - this would give us easy access but the tubes do remain on the outside at all times and can be difficult to manage and she would do well to avoid it.
The cold cap is working well and Gabrielle has not suffered any loss at this time. Despite the paracetamol that she had taken Gabrielle did find the cap more painful than ever at the beginning and for the first time shed a few quite tears but the pain quickly subsided and for the next four hours she seemed to be as comfortable as one can be with icicles on ones head.
Gabrielle has once again made most pleasing progress and should take great comfort from her results. Achieving a 5 at this time has exceeded all expectations. She must now turn her attention to raising her immune system to avoid an enforced break in her treatment. A low immune during chemo is "just the way Gabrielle is" but we have given her the tools to help raise it and she must now simply apply them.
Gabrielle's tumour will be leaving for the States soon. We have explained to her that the cost of travel has gone up and this will now be £2,300. There are of course more exciting things to spend money on but perhaps none so important. This will enable us to determine whether Gabrielle has the BRCCA gene which will in turn determine whether there is an additional treatment she can have following her treatment. There is no immediate rush for this result as the new treatment would not start until two months after her last chemo which is in the beginning of July.
All in all a very good start to the term Gabrielle, you are doing really well and should keep up the good work. We look forward to welcoming you back in one month's time.
Not a bad chemo at all - cold cap worse than last time, fitting cannula much better. At time of writing I feel absolutely fine apart from a pain up my arm where the chemo went - it's sore but manageable - I think it's just made worse because of the reason it hurts, too much poison! I have a nice few quiet days ahead, probably watching TV on the sofa feeling sick with a headache so really not much different to a Sunday after a big night out! All in all I'm doing okay, better than okay, results are good and I'm feeling pretty good too :-) xxx
(to read Gabrielle's story from the beginning go to www.gabrielleharrisblog.blogspot.co.uk)