Wednesday 21 November 2012

Tests, tests and more tests!

In order to have an Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant, I need to have quite a few different tests. I have already had some of the tests, as a day after my previous post I had a lung function test, and on a few occasions I've had several blood samples taken; However, I still need to have a heart scan, for which I'm currently awaiting an appointment, and a PET scan, which is currently scheduled to take place tomorrow.

There hasn't really been any discussion about the various blood samples taken, as I believe they were mostly used in the identifying of suitable stem cell donors; i.e. there was no need to go over them unless there was a problem. However, a doctor has looked at the results of my lung function test and commented that they look noticeably better than those from about four months ago, which is good news given how much they affect the predicted two year survival rate of the Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant.

Assuming that I do have the PET scan tomorrow, the expectation is that the results for it will be available for discussion at the multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting a few days later; The MDT meetings provide an opportunity for various doctors and nurses to discuss patients' cases, and decide the plans for their treatments going forward. On the Friday following the MDT meeting I should find out what was decided for my case.

Note: At one point, I did think that my PET scan was going to be delayed slightly, as when I first went for my fourth dose of the antibody treatment (Brentuximab Vedotin), i.e. about a week and a half ago, the blood tests performed prior to administering it showed that my neutrophils count was about half of that required to proceed, hence my treatment had to be delayed whilst it recovered, and that likely meant delaying the PET scan too. To speed-up the recovery, I was prescribed daily Filgrastim injections, and after a couple of days I could tell that they were working, as I had the commonly associated aches and pains. When I returned to the hospital (after four days), my neutrophils count was then roughly double the maximum of the normal range, which is getting close to ten times the minimum required to proceed, hence my immune system had easily recovered enough now, so the doctor prescribed the antibody treatment, which went ahead without any further complications, and to my (and it seemed the nurse's) surprise decided that the PET scan didn't need to be delayed. Even more surprisingly though, I was out of the hospital in about two hours less than my previous record!

Should the results of the PET scan look promising, then on the 3rd of December I will in all likelihood be returning to the hospital in Leeds for another appointment. The purpose of that appointment will be to discuss the results of the above tests in terms of what they mean to me for the Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant, and discuss yet more details about what exactly the treatment involves both in the short and longer term. However, given that I've yet to receive an appointment for the heart scan, and that they are currently taking a while to come through, then it is possible that the trip to Leeds will be delayed slightly, as when I previously went there the doctor did say that all of the results would need to be available before I returned.

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