Continuing my story of where I left off the last time about Rhabdomyosarcoma, I'm here to share about my treatment days and also the method that was used.
In western medicine practices, surgery will always be the first choice in removing the main tumour. As tumour can sometime grow rapidly and even into hard to reach places within the body, an alternative option will always be there to hopefully completely remove them. In this modern world, chemotherapy has been widely regarded as the second choice.
Through intravenous therapy, cytotoxic chemo drugs will be administer into a patient's body hoping to kill off any remaining tumour. Being a cytotoxic drug, it also kills off any healthy cells and tissue, hence causing further health deterioration during that particular period of time where extra care towards the patient is needed. Some of the common side effects are skin damage, sore mouth, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, bowel discomfort and constipation.
In the treatment of Rhabdomyosarcoma for me back then, if I did not forgotten fully, there were a total number of 4 main chemo drugs that was administered on me:
1) Vincristine - A clear colourless liquid that is used the most during my treatment. Common side effects includes hair loss, tissue burns, constipation, loss of appetite and, leg weakness.
2) Cyclophosphamide - A clear colourless liquid. Common side effects includes bone marrow depression, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, hair loss and sore mouth.
3) Actinomycin-D - A clear yellow liquid. Common side effects includes nausea and vomiting, bone marrow depression, hair loss, mental depression and skin eruptions.
4) Adriamycin - A clear red liquid. Common side effects includes pink urine (not blood), nausea and vomiting, bone marrow depression, hair loss, fever and sore mouth. Adriamycin was probably the last chemo drug introduced to me and was administered slowly as the side effects if administered wrongly can be deadly, as it does damage to the heart cells.
There were other drugs administered too, basically to help relieve pain:
1) Ondansetron - Either through intravenous or in tablet form, it's one drug that I relied and thankful off during back then as it help with relieving pain by blocking off the pain receptors.
2) Morphine - Carefully administered to help relieve pain. Administered very late into treatment stages as the pain was getting out of hand that even Ondansetron is no longer strong enough.
Halfway through chemotherapy, I was then required to do radiotherapy treatment which lasted one whole month. Radiotherapy is basically where high energy radiation is used to kill off cancer cells that cannot be surgically removed. Some common side effects includes fatigue, loss of appetite and skin damage. My left arm was marked with masking tapes and also marker pens to guide the radiation rays to where it is suppose to treat. The whole process only lasted less than five minutes per session and the side effects will only start to show after a week or so of treatment. And when all is completed, I resumed chemotherapy treatment.
The whole treatment process took about 2.5 to 3 years. And when it's all done, the first 10 years was critical to ensure that there is no relapse on the especially on the joints, head and neck areas. An annual check-up is done to make sure of this.
* Surgery was performed at Maria Specialist Centre, Johor Bahru
* Chemotherapy was administered at Singapore National University Hospital
* Radiotherapy was administered at Singapore General Hospital