Chemo Round #2

Yesterday I went for a blood test at Jubilee Hospital in the morning, and received a call from the BC Cancer Agency in the afternoon. Apparently my neutrophils (white blood cells) were too low because the normal range is 2.5 - 7.5 and mine were at 0.25. Don't ask me what the units are, but anything below 1.0 is cause for concern. The clinic told me that I would have to go for another blood test tomorrow (this morning) and if the counts weren't higher I might have to wait to start my second treatment. I felt frustrated when I heard that, but at the same time I almost felt a sense of relief. 
I have been feeling so healthy for the last week; I had my belated birthday party BBQ in Beacon Hill Park on Saturday, I went for two 25km bike rides on Sunday and Monday, lifted weights on Saturday and Tuesday, and ran 5km on Wednesday. I also had my UVic graduation ceremony on Wednesday, and went out for dinner and drinks at the bar afterwards. So to hear "your chemo might need to wait a week" was the same as hearing "you're free to keep living your regular super awesome life for another week!" 
Unfortunately (fortunately) I ended up having my chemo today anyways. The nurse called again yesterday and told me that since my treatment is curative, not palliative, they need to stick to the schedule as closely as possible... which is good... because I really want to be cured. 
I don't actually have too much to report about the chemotherapy session today. Bugger -- I don't have any photos either! I was at the cancer agency from 12:00 until 4:15 pm and I didn't have any reactions to the drugs, which I was very happy about. Also, Kaitlin was there until 2:00, and my friend Anja visited me from 2:30 onward, so I was very well taken care of and the time passed quickly! I had a bowl of my mom's homemade granola for dinner, and went for a 30 minute walk in a somewhat successful attempt to curb the nausea that is currently creeping into my body. Here we go again. I'd give anything to feel like I did yesterday, right now.
So. Chemo lowers my white blood cell counts too much. Guess what: There's a fix for that.
Today I was given a prescription for Neupogen, which stimulates the bone marrow to make white blood cells. It's basically a man-made version of a certain natural substance found in the body, and is produced using some kind of bacteria. It is important I take this, because when my white blood counts drop too low it is very easy for me to get a bacterial infection, which can easily turn into a blood infection, which is a medical emergency. Anyways, I felt like I was transporting a bomb when I carried the Neupogen out to my car today, encased in blocks of ice. The mixture is very sensitive: It needs to be stored between 2-8° C and shaking the vials could render the entire thing useless.
Oh yeah... and five 1 mL vials costs more than $1500. Can you believe these teenie tiny vials of liquid bone marrow magic are more than $300 each!? Here's a photo of them with a penny for size comparison.
Luckily Kaitlin is the best girlfriend in the whole wide world, and she spent more than an hour on the phone with BC Pharmacare and the Victory Supportive Care Program, which means that combined with my (crappy) UVic health insurance I now have 100% coverage for this very expensive drug.
Anyways, I will be taking Neupogen for five days, starting on Day #5 of each chemo treatment, and I will need to administer it as an injection under my skin. A nurse at the cancer agency is going to teach me how to do it on Tuesday.
As for right now, I think it's time for bed. Thank-you to everyone who has been so incredibly supportive during the last month; I need to reiterate that I don't think I could stay so positive and optimistic without you. I've experienced many emotions since this whole thing started, but right now I feel very at peace. I really do believe this whole cancer thing being merely a bump in the road, and by Autumn I will be cured. I have my friends, family, and other such loved-ones to thank for affirming that.
Thanks for reading,Christopher

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