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I approached yesterday’s third chemotherapy marathon with less trepidation than the first two. For one thing I had had an extra week between what are supposed to be fortnightly sessions and after a wonderful week at Pukehina beach I was feeling better than I have felt for quite a while. Secondly, the sharp twinges of pain that I have been experiencing for several months disappeared completely several days after the second lot of chemo. This meant I stopped taking the liquid paracetamol, so I had one less drug to worry about taking. And I also learned that the blood test I had had on Christmas Eve showed my post-chemo blood count was not as low as after the first lot of chemo.

At the appointment with the oncologist on Tuesday Dr S. told me that the disappearance of the twinges was a good sign.

I gave Dr S. a copy of the December issue of the AWHC newsletter and he told me he would give me a critique of the article I had written on Keytruda, Herceptin and PHARMAC. I told him I would look forward to his response. Throughout the appointment we kept getting hopelessly off topic.

I had a list of questions this time, and asked Dr S. if the four drugs I was taking were generic, as in off patent and therefore much cheaper. I also want to know how much they cost. He was not sure about whether they were all generic, but thought three were, and nor could he tell me what the cost was. He suggested I ask the pharmacy department next to the oncology day stay unit when I turned up for my chemo on Thursday.

I did this and explained why I wanted to know. Today I got a very welcome phone call from the guy I had talked to about my four PEXG drugs. They are all off patent, including the one I take in tablet form, capecitabine, which was originally made by Roche. So that was a bonus! So was the news that the cost of the four drugs for 12 fortnightly treatments was $2,011. I had anticipated a much higher figure than that. Of course it doesn’t include the cost of my fortnightly all day visits to the oncology day stay unit and the care from the nurses I receive there, and all the anti-nausea drugs and the nutritional supplements which Dr S. said are not cheap.

I had two friends visit me during yesterday’s chemo session, and my eldest son turned up just before noon with a delicious lunch from Revive, which resulted in a number of the other patients there asking if they could put in their lunch orders. My son explained that his mother gets special treatment because she has to be there all day.

At 4pm my third son arrived to take me home. I felt really woozy and my body was once again in its post-chemo state of shock.

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