I am classed as cancer free or cured as I successfully reached 5 years in remission. But you don’t walk away from Terminal Stage 4 cancer without long term issues, actually your not supposed to walk away but the less said the better…..First line Chemotherapy ABVD was at an aggressive level in 2014 for 6 months followed by targeted high dose radiotherapy for 4 weeks. Multiple scans, operations & biopsies only to face even more aggressive chemotherapy with R-ICE and the near lethal BEAM chemotherapy prior to a full body stem cell transplant
I was lucky my body could handle aggressive chemotherapy to the point that medical professionals nicknamed me “The Chemo Monster”
My immune system never fully recovered, and then COVID hit. With my immune system compromised I caught the bugger in April 2020. That was prior to vaccines. My already compromised immune system took a wallop.
But in 2021 the vaccine was tested on rare cancer survivors.
Jury is still out on what actually happened following my vaccinations. But I started to get reoccurring infections in both chest & lungs. We’re exploring the possibility of Covid Vaccine pneumonia- and yes there is such a thing. However it’s confirmed that my immune system is dangerously low. So hello IVIg
“ IVIg is used to reduce the effects of some inflammatory conditions that involve the immune system, also known as autoimmune diseases. It’s also used to increase levels of immunoglobulins if these are low, or have been lowered by treatment with other drugs, such as rituximab.”
There are a number of explanations about IVIG but here is my take on reading multiple medical documents.
IVIG is a form of cancer treatment primarily used to prevent recurring cancer due to immunosuppressive disease. It targets an infusion of C Cell. C cells trigger T cells to respond to infections. People who are immunosuppressive do not produce enough C cells so the T cells are not active
Saturday July 2nd 2022.
Covid Test in Bon Secours Kerry. I’ll be on the chemotherapy ward for IVIG so the team need to be sure that I’m Covid clear. Test was at 9am and got the results at 4:30pm as negative. So it’s a green flag for Monday. I live about an hour from the Bon Secours Cork so a nice drive in from Kerry. With fuel now at €2.12 a litre it’s a good thing my car is diesel and economical. Prices are gone crazy in Ireland 🇮🇪
Monday July 4th 2022
American Independence Day but for me it’s a day for Bon Secours Cork. Following a Covid test last week I was cleared to commence IVIG treatment. It’s a full days lineup starting with blood test, scans, oncologist meeting, virologist meeting, serology tests and IVIG.
Virologist: Virologists are medical doctors that oversee the diagnosis, management and prevention of infection. They’re also scientists, who may drive research on various aspects of viruses.
Serology tests look for antibodies in your blood that fight the virus that causes COVID-19. It also screens for historical infections of Covid and viral infections. I had something similar last year called a VirScan, has the potential to detect more than 1,000 different viral strains in the virome, the vast array of viruses that can infect humans. The potential of this test with Covid history should be very interesting. I had the test on the 16th of Sept, it showed a marker for Covid about 2 years ago, recurrent chest infections & reoccurring pneumonia. But this Serology specifically looks at Covid antibodies.
IVIG Pros & Cons:
Advantages: Noninvasive. Pretreatment with NS 250 mL; Tylenol and Benadryl can mitigate complications. Can reactivate T cells.
Disadvantages: Risk of hypersensitivity with IgA deficiency (should check IgA levels before starting), aseptic meningitis, headache (that medication can’t resolve), chills, myalgias, transient hypertension, fluid overload, acute tubular necrosis, hyperviscosity syndrome (stroke, MI, cryoglobulinemia, monoclonal gammopathy, high lipoproteins, or preexisting vascular disease). Long spells of fatigue Requires about 6 months of therapy to work. May cause other infections & risk of high blood pressure
As always I’m ignoring most of the disadvantages. It’s one treatment that I seriously believe I need. I was concerned that the damp climate in Ireland was a primary cause for my recurring pneumonia and chest infections. I traveled to Lanzarote in early June, departing Ireland I was completely clear of infectious but a week into my stay I caught a chest infection, actually a bad one, boarder line pneumonia. It shook me, which is rare. I fought it without medication but it’s still lingering. The climate in Lanzarote was almost opposite to Ireland- clear fresh air, warm & sunny. It proved to me that my issues were not climate related but immune related. If I had any doubts about doing IVIG prior to travelling then those doubts are gone.
I’ve measured up the risks and more than happy to proceed. I’ve gone to war more than once in my life and this to me is another war, I’m facing this with the same attitude I’ve faced every other battle – to win. My intention is to use the treatment to kick start my immune system and stop infections for once and for all. Your mind is a powerful force and having a positive mindset is the only way for me. Physically I’m in good condition, I’ve maintained my body weight to average about 80kgs, and my soul is ready for any outcome. Mind, body & Soul. And as always a motivated medical team, they known what I’m capable of , these are the oncology team that have worked with me since 2014, they have seen me battling against all odds and winning
And now I commence my battle with my immune system not to stop it this time but to start up again. Cancer patients that I help are well aware of my views about any form of warfare the fight is inside your own body, cancer cells are part of our bodies, their blind mission is to kill the host, our mission is to kill these cells. It’s in reality fighting against yourself. Infections & Cancer cells can confuse your immune system and in blood cancer the cancer cells use your immune system to attack healthy cells. The vast majority of chemotherapy drugs go to shut down the immune system before attacking cancer cells (I’m using cancer cells as a broad spectrum to include blood cancers & tumours). The medical team were very successful in shutting down my system but the massive therapy prior to the stem cell transplant has a lasting effect, and Mr Covid just added to the party. Keeping in mind I was classed as terminal so destroying my immune system at the time was not an issue
But this time It’s a reverse role, instead of trying to kill cells I am now trying to reboot them. Don’t you just love modern medicine, they have the ammunition and all you need to be is the weapon. Granted if been called a weapon more than once 😱
So the day begins…… arrived at 08:30 and had my blood test. It’s important that my bloods are good to commence IVIG. Even with my immune system down some markers within the blood test need to be good so the basically the IVIG does not have a negative impact….. always keep in mind that patience is vital. Test can take hours or weeks but they are a vital part of any therapy
Meeting with Oncologist went well and no issues, very happy to proceed & feels the IVIG will reboot immune system. As an add bonus he had a 3 year oncology student with him, he knows i have great time for students and because I can converse at a medical level he tends to do this. What should have been a 30 minute discussion turned closer to an hour. These students are a vital part of the battle against cancer, they need to learn as much as possible about successful patients and their approach to Terminal cancer treatment. This is the future of medical research and studies.
Consent forms signed & blood results are good to go. All meetings done (I think). Weighed in a little lighter than normal at 77.5kgs but most likely all the exercise from Spain. Line in pre meds started- paracetamol, steroids and antibiotics pre Infusion. Heart monitor, blood pressure monitor and pulse monitor. No allergic reaction. 10 minutes of pre meds by IV and then the fun begins
Hello IVIG… now go do what you have to do and get my immune system working, as against go kill the cancer cell’s (I’m been polite but that could change). Infusion will take about 3 hours
1/2 ways in all all good. Blood pressure is excellent at 116/71 so must have been doing something right
And that’s it. All done and dusted. Expected fatigue to be prolonged but we will see, expecting headaches will last a week but nothing noteworthy yet. Kind of an anticlimax but worth doing.
The Serology test showed my immune system can’t fight Covid. I may have had 2 Covid attacks or more. Pneumonia & bad chest infections have confused my T cells and the hope is that IVIG will restart them
Now a nice spin home for next hour or so. They were not happy this morning that I drove in alone but I’ve driven into a lot worse and more dangerous situations. Might even take the scenic route home ……. The Cork & Kerry mountains
On a finale note I like to express my gratitude to blood donors, yet again a potentially deadly attack has been warned off by the use of Donor antibodies. If your fit and healthy you can donate blood, stem cells and antibodies. These donors are the unsung heroes of the war against cancer. So thank you for helping me.
Happy 4th of July Independence Day
Thursday 7th July 2022
3 days following IVIG and few side effects if any. I got fatigue after arriving home on Monday and a few brief fatigue on Tuesday & Wednesday. So decide to do a 5k walk today in Killarney National park, with Alfie the Jack Russell puppy.
If anyone is offered the IVIG treatment I’d strongly recommend it. Just approach it with a strong mentality. It will take time to find out how effective this treatment is but right now I feel somewhat better, my chest infection is clearing and that might be an indication of my immune system restarting.
Update 3 weeks post IVIG
Almost 3 weeks following procedure and no side effects at all. I did catch a chest infection that seems to be lingering but that could be because my immune system is starting to work at some level. The weather conditions have been mixed here from hot to cold with rain and some good sunny days. Normally a chest infection for me rapidly hits and brings on pneumonia. But this one feels like my immune system is fighting it. I’m not taking any antibiotics nor have I since 2021 as I need my system to stand alone and fight. So there is a level of success with the IVIG or there appears to be. My next main infusion is set for 7 weeks from now. Another battle been fought & won. This one is a walk in the park compared to Chemo
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