As I near the end of my immunotherapy treatment (September 16 is my last infusion session), thankfully, the negative side effects have been minimal overall; compared to my first battle with cancer throughout 2014, this treatment has been a cake-walk. Conversely, while the drug (Yervoy) my oncologist is using is boosting my body’s immune system and making it a “Rambo-style weapon” against metastatic melanoma, it does come with some negative side effects; in fact, some of those annoying side effects could possibly…though highly unlikely…lead to death – a risk both my wife and I were willing to take to prevent another reoccurrence of cancer.
Following the third infusion, I have been experiencing a persistent head pain for more than a week or so. Right before Labor Day weekend, we tried contacting my oncologist to let him know about this persistent side effect. Unfortunately, he was out for the week, so his medical staff instructed us to go to one of INOVA’s Emergency Rooms (ER), if the head pain continued. I am not a fan of ERs, so I thought I could tough it through the weekend. However, once the persistent head pain started to pulse a bit in the back of my head yesterday, Teresa convinced me to go to the ER.
Once we arrived to the ER and checked in, they pulled my medical record up in their INOVA system. The medical team quickly performed triage and conducted some tests (i.e., blood work, CAT scan, etc.).
I must shamefully admit, it’s kind of nice that once they learn you’re a cancer patient, I tend to receive a bit more tender care…like I am carrying a ‘premier gold member cancer-care card’ or something ;-)
After everything was done, I walked out with a new prescription to deal with the persistent head pain. And, after we follow up this week to learn about the results of the tests, hopefully this side effect has no correlation to any hormone issues (one of the treatment’s common side effects).
So, another day as a cancer patient.
I do look forward to the day when this experience is far behind me. But what is more, I look forward to the lessons learned as a cancer survivor.