Thursday, June 03, 2004

what is chemo?

Jo's summary of the day- 'High temperatures, high heart rate, high breathing rate, low oxygen saturation, miserable, slept most of the day, didn't want anyone near him'. He has some sort of infection happening but lab tests have come up negative so far.

Chemo was started a bit earlier today so that tomorrow's can start earlier so that hopefully he can come out for the weekend. Although his current infection might stuff that plan.

Someone asked me today, what is chemotherapy? From my non medical background, here is my interpretation. There are about 50 or so chemotherapy drugs. They are used in various combinations to treat different types of cancer. Cancer cells divide faster than most other cells in the body. The drugs are designed to kill the fast dividing cells. This means other fast dividing cells in the body are also affected like hair and bone marrow and the gastrointestinal tract. Hence hair can fall out and the red and white blood cells and platelets are depleted. This means a greater chance of picking up infection. And for Ethan, this will mean extra time in hospital with antibiotics, as he doesn't have the greatest ability to fight infection at the best of times. There are other side effects of chemotherapy (ethan receives an anti-nausea drug prior to treatment) which we hopefully won't find out about.

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