We’re getting there. We are getting there. Today Isita starts her fourth cycle of chemotherapy, the fourth out of five. The consultants only decided yesterday to go ahead. They have been weighing up her ability to endure the treatment against the need to maintain its intensity. Two days ago, the preferred option was to spend a couple more days boosting her white blood cell levels and then only begin when they had been stable for a further 72 hours. That would have meant starting on Monday or Tuesday at the earliest. One of the reasons why they are more confident about going ahead now is that Isita has been piling on weight as she recovers from the adenovirus which laid her low for most of March.
We have been writing up her progress on a whiteboard next to her bed. As I look across now, I can see that the low point was exactly one week ago. On Saturday 25 March Isita weighed just 14.25kg. Today she weighs 15.7kg. So, she has put on 1.5kg in a week. The challenge of getting her back to 17kg, which is what she weighed when she was first admitted to hospital in early January, feels within our grasp.
Isita is not only heavier and stronger. She is also back to her old bright, bossy, cheeky self, wrapping the nurses and her parents around her little finger. It is when she is like this that we have the greatest faith that she will get through this entire ordeal and come out happy and healthy on the other side. As we prepare to start this cycle of chemo, it certainly feels that she has fought and won an important battle. There will be other low points before we are done, and Isita has shown she’s got what it takes. One of the oddities of this treatment is that in recent weeks we have been much more intimidated about the threat from some hidden bug, or bacteria or virus than by the tumour itself, which is almost possible to forget about since it doesn’t hurt her any more. But ultimately, it all comes down to keeping Isita fit enough to continue with the protocol, and it seems like we may have just managed to do that.
We don’t yet have any definitive news about how effective the chemo has been so far. It looks like the neuroblastoma has been checked. An ultra-sound they did a week ago showed that it hadn’t grown in size, but ultra-sounds are not a very good way of picturing this type of tumour. They will do an MRI in mid-May to get the exact picture. We haven’t yet got the results from the bone marrow aspirate they did on Wednesday. The surgeons took blood samples from the bone marrow in the back, during a short operation under general anaesthetic. These will show how well the chemo has removed the metastases from around the body. As was explained to us at the beginning, it doesn’t make sense to move on to surgery unless this has completely worked. There is a plan B involving more chemo if necessary.
Isita is now entering her fifth week in hospital. Let’s hope the side-effects to the coming cycle are not too severe, and we may finally get home sometime next week. In the meantime, to stave off the drudgery of hospital life, I am going to nip out and buy a can opener and perhaps a small bottle of sauterne so we can tuck into Charles and Virginia’s paté de foie gras.