Category Archives: White blood cells

More problems than cancer?

I saw my oncologist, Dr Tache, yesterday and described my symptoms to him. He listens, and it’s obvious he does, and that’s good. When I was telling him that there had been two or three days when the roof of my mouth, much of my tongue and the top of my throat had all been numb, his ears really, really, picked up and he commented “I’d have sent you to the hospital.” It seems these symptoms might be indicative of my having had a stroke. They aren’t symptoms I’ve ever heard of in connection with a stroke and I’d just put them down to side effects of the chemo and/or the neulasta which, of course, boosts my white blood cell count but can be quite painful, this time causing pain from my pelvis to my knees for three or four days. Had I had trouble with my speech, with my vision, crushing pain in my chest or my arm or even a sudden urge to void my bowels then yes, I’d have associated all of those things with a heart attack, but not the numbness in my mouth and throat which in many ways seemed just to be an extension of the varying patterns of numbness I’ve been experiencing on my tongue ever since I started the ABVD chemo to rid my body of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Anyway, although we went ahead with the chemo yesterday, Dr Tache is concerned and wants me to have a variety of scans and specialist reports to make sure my heart, brain and lungs are all functioning as they should be which is all fine and dandy, just as it should be, but, of course, some of them must first be approved by my insurer, so, who knows whether or not Dr Tache will get to know what he wants to know and whether or not he will be able to make an informed opinion as to how we continue my treatment.

We all had a great time with my daughter who had an absolutely nightmare trip over here. She’d booked her flight with US Airways from Manchester in England which meant a drive of about 100 miles from her home in the West Midlands. When I went to bed the night before her flight the flight had been put back, but, when she arrived at the check in at around 8 a.m., she discovered that the flight had actually been cancelled. The best US Airways could offer was a flight on the Sunday, two days later. Not a lot of good when you fly home two days after that. Now, I know nothing about US Airways reliability but this site¬†¬†seems to show that the Manchester – Philadelphia flight was cancelled three times in seven days which hardly sounds good does it? Anyway thanks to the efforts of her husband and British Airways my daughter managed to book on a BA flight from Manchester to Heathrow and then on to Miami, finally arriving at her hotel some 21 hours after she left home that morning. I think her journey was worth it. Will she ever again try to fly US Airlways? I doubt it.


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Filed under Cancer, chemo, chemotherapy, Dr Jason Tache, Neulasta, Stroke, US Airways, White blood cells

Why I don’t have enough white blood cells

I knew that chemotherapy was a destructive process, but, until I started getting really low scores on tests for my white blood cells, perhaps I hadn’t realised just how destructive.

White blood cells are a significant part of the body’s immune defences. In effect white blood cells are the security forces of the body: when they pick up on an intruder of some sort, whether a germ of some kind or a bacteria, then the white blood cells spring into action either secreting antibodies or surrounding and devouring the bacteria. White blood cells have a short life typically existing for a period from a few days to a few weeks. If the body is on the alert because of an infection then there will be more white blood cells produced in order to deal with the intruder. Conversely, when the body is not under attack then there will be less of these cells. Chemotherapy kills white blood cells.

A low-level of neutrophils means that your body is less able to fight infection and so what would ordinarily be only a minor infection has the potential to have a disproportionately large impact with the possibility of disrupting chemotherapy treatment. In order to avoid this possibility my oncologist, Dr Tache, has recommended that I have a second course of Neulasta, and, once again, everyone has told me that it could be painful. They were right! I had some pain last time but it was handled easily with Tylenol and I thought the same thing was happening this time too, but, last night, the pain ramped up another level so that the small of my back feels as though bone is grating on bone. The Tylenol brings the level of pain down for a an hour so but then it starts to climb again. Sitting is painful. Standing is painful. Lying down is painful. I feel as though I would like to try levitation so that nothing is pressing on anything else. Anyone know of a magician willing to try this for me?


Filed under Cancer, chemo, chemotherapy, Dr Jason Tache, Hodgkins Lymphoma, Neulasta, Neutropenia, White blood cells