The ESHAP chemo regimen I was given consisted of the following drugs/procedures/timing:
- E – Etoposide
- SH – Methylprednisolone (corticosteroid)
- A – Cytarabine (also known as Ara C)
- P – Cisplatin
ESHAP is normally administered in 3 weekly cycles (i.e. starting every 21 days). Depending on your needs, you may have between 1 and 6 cycles. A cycle lasts 5 days, so you will stay in/come to the hospital (depending on your hospital’s policy) for this length of time.
Each cycle works like this:
On Day 1 you have:
Etoposide as a drip (infusion) for one hour
Methylprednisolone (steroid) as a drip for 15 to 30 minutes
Cytarabine as a drip for 2 hours
Cisplatin as a drip continuing for 4 days
Continue with your cisplatin
Repeat the etoposide and methylprednisolone drips
[This is not complete – I need to consult with my other half for the missing drugs/components!]
During the 5 days of treatment you will either stay in hospital as an inpatient, or as in Leeds where I am, as an out-patient, on the Ambulatory ward and staying in a hotel on the hospital grounds. You will have a load of fluids (hydration) during treatment. This is because ESHAP can cause kidney damage and the extra fluids help to keep your kidneys working properly. (I gained 8kg over 3 days from all the fluids – I literally couldn’t pee it out fast enough!)
You are also given lots of medicines to run along side the chemo, both to prevent viral/bacterial infections as well as to combat all the side effects.
You are also given steroid eye drops to use for 7 days to help stop your eyes getting sore. My eyesight got really bad. Not painful, I just couldn’t see much beyond 20m. Driving was out of the question. I don’t think the eye drops helped at all with this, perhaps stopping them from getting sore.
When the treatment finishes you have a break for just over 2 weeks. Then you start the next cycle. I have had 2 so far (as of 1/5/16). Depending on scan results etc this may change. I’ll update this page as and when.
Next up, once in a ‘good enough remission’, the plan is to wipe my immune system with a type of chemo called BEAM and re-introduce my stem cells. More to follow on this!