Kate started her first cycle of the consolidation 2 phase yesterday (Monday, October 28th.) This second part of the consolidation phase will last roughly 27 more weeks. I say “roughly” because at any time, low counts and unexpected illness or infection could delay treatment. We are going to do every single thing possible to not let that happen, so with hopeful hearts, we begin the next 6-ish months.
For those interested, here’s what that might look like. This is a sample of this cycle. Each cycle is three weeks (21 days.)
Day1: clinic visit with Vincristine chemo, Doxorubicin chemo and Zinecard (a medication designed to protect her heart from the damaging effects of the Doxo.)
Days 1-14: oral chemo pill (6mp) which can only be given on an empty stomach (2 hours before and 2 hours after) and with NO dairy. Ideally, this is done at bedtime.
Days 2-6: oral steroid pill twice daily. This 5 day stretch is a nightmare when combined with the 6mp because Kate is ALWAYS hungry on steroids. Telling her she can’t eat for two hours before the 6mp and 2 hours after is torture. She cries and cries for food so we have to find ways to distract her from thinking she’s hungry.
Day 8: hospital visit for Oncaspar chemo, which is the study drug she’s on. She will also do this on day 1 of cycle 3 (so, every other Monday for a total of 27 more weeks.)
In addition to all of this, she is on a weekly pill called Dapsone which is given every Monday. This is an antibiotic to avoid a certain type of pneumonia.
There will be a clinic visit every Monday for count checks and daily Pepcid to protect her tummy from the harsh chemicals she’s getting. Every so often, she’ll also have sedated spinal taps…you know. For fun. Her next isn’t scheduled until sometime in December.
27 weeks sounds like a really (really) long time. But, if all goes according to plan and we’re able to stay the course, we will reach the long-term maintenance phase sometime in early May. That’s the phase where things get slightly less intense, though steroids, chemo and clinic visits will still be a part of our lives…just a bit less often.
I just have to keep reminding myself that every day, every week, every phase is one step closer to the end of treatment and to the beginning of the life Kate is MEANT to have.