I haven’t written here on Cancer Talk for quite a while.
First of all I’d like to thank everyone who gave me good wishes on my transplant. The first few months of 2017 were dedicated to recovering from my transplant. I recovered well and then around March (or April – I cannot remember), I did my scan and the result…well, it was disappointing. While most of the tumours have disappeared, there were still a few left. To my doctor, the transplant was not a total failure. However, he was concerned of the few remaining and so he told me to do radiation, which I did obediently. He had a few options for me to do after the radiation. One was yet another transplant, which I flatly refused because it was too much of a risk and the success rate was not that high (in which my doctor agreed). Secondly, he told me of a new drug called Pembrolizumab.
This drug has been used to treat skin cancer but now can be used for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My doctor told me of this drug and asked if I’d prefer it over another transplant. After consideration, I decided to give it a try.
This drug is given through infusion. Each infusion lasts 2-3 hours. The effects of this drug is not like chemo, it is basically an antibody infusion which uses my immune system to destroy the cancer cells. I don’t want to go into details as you can Google this drug yourself if you want to know more, but using this drug means I won’t be as weak as I was when I did chemo. I still have to be very careful and mind my surroundings but I can actually be active and do things.
Of course there is no such thing as no side effects, in the first few infusions I had migraines and felt sick but only for a few days (I still do sometimes) but I felt fit enough to be active. I had to have this infusion once every month.
After six infusions, my doctor decided that my body is responding well to this new drug but I need to have more infusions. It was advised to have 10-12 infusions for it to work effectively while I only had six so far. And so last December my doctor decided to add six more but now I get to have it once every two months.
This is not entirely good news, I know that, but at least this treatment is better than chemo by miles. I can go out (still with a masker though), I can do something, I get to have HAIR! Last year I felt alive and amazing, it has been a while since I felt this way. So while it is not perfect, it is not so bad either. I am thankful that my body is responding well to this drug.
So this year, my treatment continues but I don’t want to dwell in that. I am lucky, I really am. I have the greatest friends when I go to Malaysia. They let me stay at their place which makes my bi-monthly visit to Malaysia more bearable. I make plans when it’s time to go to Malaysia, like go to an art store or try a new cafe. I try not to make it a burden. For 2-3 hours I lay in the hospital’s day care facility to get my “superhero” infusion and I get to go home the next day. It is in a way, a great joy for me to be home the next day as opposed to chemo where I had to stay in Malaysia for at least a week after chemo.
So, that’s my update. Sometimes it’s hard for me to sit down and talk about my treatments but I really do want to share my experience with you so I’ll try to write more in Cancer Talk this year.