Sharp Blue: Interferon in the fridge


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There are twelve small cardboard boxes in our fridge. Each box contains a single prefilled syringe. Each syringe is loaded with a solution of interferon alfa-2a. With this agent, we will wage a sustained campaign of biochemical warfare. The chemical carpetbombing will be supplemented by strategic radiological strikes against concentrations of enemy combatants. We will continue the attacks not until our enemy routs or surrenders, but until it is utterly annihilated. There will be no negotiations, no conditions, only victory. Our adversary is my father’s metastatic renal cell cancer.

I spent most of today in the Oncology Centre. Dr Newman, my dad’s oncologist, is very happy with his progress. We can now reduce dosages of several of his medications and he can stop taking phenytoin entirely later this week. It seems that the single radiotherapy treatment on his leg wasn’t fully effective so now we’ll be going for a course of four treatments. More importantly, the interferon treatment starts later this week. He’ll be taking this by injection three times a week for at least three months and possibly as long as a year. The district nurse will be making the first few injections but he should be able to inject himself after that. The worst of the side-effects, which are similar to flu, should disappear in a month or two, but there will be some tiredness for as long as he takes it.

Our next oncology appointment is in another month. A month after that he’ll have a range of CT and MRI scans to test the effectiveness of the radiotherapy and interferon. Dr Newman seems to think we’re well on the way to beating the cancer. My dad is certainly feeling much stronger now than he was even a month ago.

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