When my father’s doctor recommended Opdivo (Immunotherapy) we had no idea what to expect. We were learning just like most of you are. Its not everyday that we have to learn about all these different medications and cancers.
MSKC’s definition for Immunotherapy is in the link I have inserted above. As for my definition well, sit back and get ready.
My father began Opdivo in late March/ early April. I always tend to forget all of these dates considering how many times a person can be in the doctor’s office or hospital on a weekly basis for most patients’. They explained to my father that rather than taking pills everyday he would come every two weeks and have an IV draw the medication (Opdivo) into his veins to help his natural immune system fight the cancer. A very common side affect of opdivo is inflammation of the chest which is not that great of a deal. May just cause slight discomfort for most people.
And so… We began this second chapter in an attempt to save my father’s life. Most people don’t understand how difficult it can be for the patient to go through this and also the family members. When my father began his Immunotherapy treatments I was/am fortunate enough to have my aunt be a big part in his journey. On days I would work, she would escort my father to his appointments, call his doctors, handle insurance, handle appointments and stay with him; vise versa. Some people don’t have that kind of help and for that I am forever grateful.
Every 2 weeks until present time my father has received opdivo. But of course all of you know that with cancer, everything is tricky. After my father’s third treatment we began to notice his hemoglobin levels (CBC) drop significantly. This was a huge confusion for us because that is not really a side affect of immunotherapy. Very rare. It was another scare. Imagine this, your father starts looking like his old self such as, stronger, younger, body hair beginning to go back to its natural jet black color. Everything was going great and then another spiral.
My aunt and uncle pushed to have my father begin doing blood transfusions. (A little laughter for all of you). My aunt was pushing for him to have 2-4 units because of course the more the better but my dad only agreed to 1 and still gave a hard time lol. He said what if he got a crazy person’s blood then I’ll become crazy lol. Anyways moving on… they gave my father O + which is universal for any blood type when they can’t get you’re specific blood type. ( My father is B+). After 3 attempts of transfusions my father’s CBC had dropped even lower 7.3 to be exact. Three weeks earlier it was at 10.5.
My father ended up going for a cat scan to see if he had a bleed somewhere in the body and the result of that was no bleed. You can imagine our confusion. We go home and the weekend arrives.
Its 6 am. My phone keeps ringing. Its my father. He calls me to tell me he needs to go to the emergency room. He feels he can’t breathe. He needs air. I run like the flash and get to him as soon as I can to find him on the porch trying to catch his breath. We rush to the emergency room. Frantic in a panic all the nurses put my father in a room, hook him up to oxygen and put an IV in his arm. ( Mind you my father is phobic of needles, but at this point he was begging for anything, something to make him to able to breathe again). I called my aunt and she ran to the ER. My father’s hemoglobin drops to 7.1 and he can’t move without feeling like he’s not going to breathe again. They admit him.
((( I will be continuing the rest of this story tomorrow. If any of you need any advice on how to cope with cancer or a loved one with cancer, I will try to the best of my ability to help you. Feel free to e-mail or Facebook message me with any questions or concerns.)))