I'm not talking about Uncle Ben's Converted Rice or brown rice or long-grain and wild rice or even Basmati rice. I'm talking about the acronym for a really really scary cancer treatment that John is about to undertake.
John had an appointment at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania today. He was there to discuss his options for the next dose of treatment to get rid of the cancer that keeps showing up in his body, in his lymph nodes.
I wanted to go with him, but with the economy the way it is, I simply can't afford to take any extra time off right now.
Before any treatments start, John has to get a MUGA done. MUGA is a scan of the heart to make sure his heart can withstand the chemo he'll be receiving. He'll be getting this done next Tuesday, May 26.
He also needs to have a bone marrow biopsy done to make sure his marrow is good. Not fun. This is very painful. Why they don't sedate you for this I can't understand.
OK, so back to R-ICE. This is a treatment designed to fight Lymphoma (the non-Hodgkins variety). It stands for:
R- Rituximab ... John had Rituxan with his first round of chemo 2 years ago, This stuff kills the cancer cells while leaving the good cells alone (cool stuff!) and allows the body to rebuild the white cells.
*I don't know what these drugs do, exactly, but give me some time and I'll learn all abou them.
These are given via IV. I guess John will have to have another port (permanent IV line) installed in his chest.
He is to get 2 treatments of RICE which should put him in remission. Then they'll harvest his own stem cells. Then he has to get a really high dose of RICE that will make him really sick. At some point, they'll begin to replace his own stem calls back into his body. If this treatment doesn't kill him, it should put him in remission, hopefully for good.
He has a very long hard tough summer ahead of him. The last dose of RICE and the stem cell work will keep him in the hospital for a month... in Philly, 40 miles from here. This is going to be long tough hard road for me too. The earlier treatments I can handle with work, but that month in the hospital is going to be very hard for me to do. Luckily I have 3 weeks vacation this year and I plan to take a week when he gets out of the hospital and comes here for recuperation. Dani should be at school by then so that shouldn't be a problem. If not, she's just going to have to deal with it.
John's worried about his job. Will he be able to take the better part of the summer off and still have a job to come back to in September? He was told his treatments should be finished and he should be able to resume his normal daily life.
One of the downsides of this treatment is in 10 or 20 years, he may get another kind of cancer. The alternative is he gets sicker and sicker and dies. So he's going to go ahead with this treatment. He trusts Dr. Swaab implicitly. Unfortunately, our cancer center doesn't do the R-ICE treatment, so he HAS to go to U of P Hospital. The doctor who John saw today was one of the doctor's that Dr. Swaab trained under, so John felt better about it. My niece is a recovery room nurse U of P Hospital. I'll have to talk to her soon.
It's important that we both stay VERY positive during this time. John was very lucky that he handled the chemo treatments 2 years ago with relative ease. He was able to work through it. This time it's going to be much tougher and he'll be sicker. But John's a tough old bird and I have a feeling he'll come out of this really well!
When I know more, I'll be sure to keep everyone posted.