Things I’ve learned about Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in a short period of time: it is rare and more commonly found in men; it affects young adults in their twenties to mid thirties and then has an increased rate in older people; it generally starts in the neck or chest region; and it is considered to be the “Mercedes” of cancers. So despite my gender, the other two facts accurately describe my situation. And I guess if you have to have cancer, good thing it’s the “good kind”. Hodgkin’s is often toted as one of the most curable forms of cancer with the first line of treatment – a chemotherapy regimen determined by your oncologists.
I remember waiting to hear what the prescribed treatment would be for me and what that would actually look like. Both of my new “partners” (oncologists) agreed that my prescribed treatment would be ABVD, a drug cocktail that would include four separate drugs some of which would be pushed through the IV by one of the oncology nurses and the others that were administered via an IV drip. No matter what the infusion method, it would appear that I would have to become very familiar with my (IV) pole. I have to admit I’d much rather have tried ‘strippercise’ than chemotherapy interrupted by my ‘pole dancing’ to the ladies room every thirty minutes. Regardless of the desired pole activities, both would have yielded the same end goal – a healthier me.
Dr. Z explained that ABVD would be administered via my fancy new titanium mediport, that was surgically placed on the right side of my chest with an annoying tube inserted into my jugular. It is also very fashion forward, there is an entire culture of people that actually choose to have subdermal implants. I must admit I do not understand the allure, even a little bit. However, I will attest that while I hate my port placement and bulging neck tube, I love my port because it means that no one tries to accost me with an IV in the arm. My drug cocktails are administered through it as is all of my blood work.
According to my prescribed treatment, I would be receiving ABVD every other Wednesday for six months, totaling six cycles and twelve individual treatments. My one day of chemo was an actual day, sometimes taking as long as five hours from start to finish. Twenty four hours later I had to return to the cancer center for my Neulasta shot, which was a necessity to help keep my white blood cell count up in order to fight infection.
Aside from those two days, I would have to go for blood work on my ‘off’ Wednesday to ensure that my counts were decent. All in all the regimen was not terrible. I could do anything for six months or at least I keep telling myself that.