PCP is what my killed my dad October 9, 2005. Near the end of his first and only chemo regime he traveled to Southern California for a work conference. This says two things about my dad: 1) although he was 2/3 of the way through his first chemo regime, he felt good enough to even consider a trip like this and 2) he really liked to work and missed it. After mowing the lawn the day before his trip, he began to feel a bit 'poor' but still went on the trip. After just a couple of days though, he decided to return early because he felt horrible with what he described as 'flu-like' symptoms. The night he arrived back home his wife Sue took him to the ER. They sent him home and told him to see his regular doctor the next day which he did. After a day, my dad's condition worsened he was admitted into the hospital where he had been taking his chemo for Pneumonia. I don't think they immediately knew he had contracted PCP but they sure did within a few days.
Pneumocystis is an opportunistic pneumonia that effects people with beaten down immune systems. It was a major killer of many of the initial AIDS patients but just recently a couple of drugs and some preventive tests have really improved not only the survival rate but the prevention of PCP. The only problem is that nobody throughout our whole process ever mentioned the letters PCP. Maybe it is a rare occurrence for people with the rare CNS Lymphoma...I don't know. What I do know is that CNS Lymphoma chemo is very potent and the immune system is severely beat up. Knowing that a simple T-cell test would have signaled a warning sign at which time we could have started some drugs in prevention. The following article sheds some light on PCP http://www.thebody.com/content/art6086.html
After realizing my dad had PCP, the doctors prescribed Bactrim (the most effective anti-PCP drug) but after a few days he had a reaction to it and another drug was introduced. Over the course of just 10 days my dad went into ICU, back out, and finally back in for good. In the end, his heart gave out from working so hard to push the little oxygen his lungs were providing.
The reason I think the PCP/CNS Lymphoma connection may be a bit more than coincidence is because a good number of HIV patients come down with CNS Lymphoma. Maybe it is simply a matter of PCP attacking anyone with a poor immune system but the coincidence seems a bit much for me. Anyway, in hindsite, I would have asked that my dad's t-cell count be monitored and I would have had him started on preventative PCP drugs if it dropped below an acceptable level.