Doc asks Husband how he feels: ‘Good’. ‘Good’, responds Doc. No ‘lumps or bumps’ declares Doc after a brief examination. Husband mentions the continuing discomfort from where his spleen was but all in all he feels fine.
We ask what the blood numbers are… Red cells are down a bit to 96, platelets have dropped to 114. ‘Big drop in platelets’, remarks Husband. ‘Yes’, responds Doc. They are in monosyllabic mode. I think Doc is giving us a moment to process the implications. I feel sick.
Doc explains that they won’t be pushing Husband into treatment yet but that there’s no point watching him get unwell and not doing anything about it. Nothing will happen fast – it will just gradually get worse – but there’s no point waiting too long.
The treatment plan will involve at least six 3-week periods of uninterrupted treatment and no possibility of working. There is no advantage to delaying the start of treatment but no real advantage in starting immediately either – it’s partly down to Husband and whether he wants to get the treatment over with during the winter so that he can enjoy next summer.
Treatment will include Rituximab, possibly with Bendamustine, although Doc adds ‘I hope not at this stage – it’s tough, although you should get through it okay’.
‘Have you researched treatments? Is there anything in particular that you’d like?’ ‘No we haven’t done much research – we were hoping that the splenectomy would give a longer remission and that we wouldn’t have to be thinking about chemo yet’… Of course we have heard of Rituximab so it’s terribly reassuring to hear that mentioned.
Doc says he’ll confer with the lymphoma experts to discuss the best course of action and will get back to us.
So we walk back down the same corridor we walked when Husband was first diagnosed just over a year ago. The news is not great but we’re better able to process it this time – it’s weird how you don’t get used to living with cancer but you do have to find ways of getting on with it. This is bitterly disappointing but there are treatment options. This will be another tough winter but it’s not likely to be Husband’s last and I am grateful for that.