Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Good Riddance!

It's been five days since my final chemotherapy and I'm feeling the full effects.  I've been almost bedridden for three days, and the body pain takes my breath each time I move.  My bones ache.  My muscles all feel bruised to the touch.  My skin feels burned.  My stomach turns at the thought of food, but I force myself to eat.  And in turn, I usually run straight to the bathroom to get sick.

My eyes have a blurry film over them, and I have to keep rubbing them to focus on the computer screen.  I have to turn the TV on almost double the volume, because my hearing has been affected by the chemicals.  There's a sickeningly sweet smell burned into my nostrils.  Food has no taste, or all the wrong taste.  When I add salt, it just makes things taste like dog food (not that I would know what that tastes like).   And there are weird twitches everywhere.  My left eyelid, for example, has been twitching for almost three weeks.  I'm hot.  No wait, I'm cold.  Crap, I'm freezing hot!  I'm sweating cold!

But you know what?  I don't even care about all of that.  I'm almost done.  I'm free.  Sure, I may have lingering effects, but really, how does that even compare to what I've been through.  I made a comment on Facebook about how chemotherapy has become a security blanket.  It's true.  I trust it.  I depend on it, because I know it's working.  It's really hard to let go.  Even though chemo beats me and mistreats me, it also provides a bubble of protection.  It's awful, but I've grown to respect it.

Will I ever have to do chemo again?  It's possible. That's the tricky business of cancer.  We never know.  I hope and pray that I never feel, smell, taste, or suffer that ever again.  And right now, in this moment, I'm saying "goodbye" and not looking back.

Okay, I'm looking back here, but not at chemo

Me and Captain Chemo

Holding my Certificate of Achievement for Completion of Chemo

Waiting to get the painful Neulasta shot on Saturday

My sister flew down to take care of me over the weekend

I was the first to ring the brand new chemo bell

I didn't ring it loud the first time, because I didn't want to disturb
the other patients.  But they made me ring it again!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Here's the update folks! There's no leak in my port, which is good news. I added a pic of the Portagram because it's just cool. My labs are great, with my White Blood Cell count at 5.9 (even better than last time). I think that's due to the fasting. The doctor is all for what I'm doing, and says I look fantastic.

She said that the infection I had last week is from febrile neutropenia (fever from low blood counts), and can be life threatening. So this next time I'm going to get the painful shot the next day to stimulate my bone marrow to produce white blood cells.

Friday is my LAST CHEMO!! And I meet with the breast surgeon on January 28th to schedule my surgery as soon as possible. They will take out my port at the same time they do the breast surgery. I'll still have infusions of Herceptin every three weeks, but after surgery, I will start my radiation therapy. I don't know that there will ever be a point that I'm "done" with cancer treatments, but damn I'm excited right now!!!

Waiting for my xray.... 

Xray of my port...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Over the Hump

Only one chemo treatment left!!

I'm now ten days past my third round of Taxotere, and I wanted to give an update on side effects and general health.  I try to keep a list of things that happen as the days go by, so I can remember later and discuss with the doctor if needed.  Here's my list for this round:

Round #3 Taxotere Dec 27
Fasted for 36 hours before and 24 hours after

Day 1: 
hiccups-  I don't know why, but I get the hiccups with every chemo
heartburn-  oh my, the heartburn
swishy brain- my brain is sloshing around inside my head, and my eyes take a while to catch up
sensitive mouth- like acid on my gums

Day 4: 
sensitive mouth
by evening had intense muscle and bone pain
tension headache
sore throat

Day 5 (the day I posted about the New Year):
extreme muscle and bone pain- I could hardly move
weak, no energy
extreme heartburn- all the way into my ears

Day 6:
throwing up all night- I spent the night on the floor of the bathroom shaking and throwing up
freezing cold- body temp 97.0
skin hurts to touch
runny nose
major stomach issues

And I have to say this, there were moments this day that I have never experienced in my life.  And I actually wondered at the time if I was dying.  I kept saying to myself, "Is this what dying feels like?", and I have to admit I was panicking a little. 

Day 8: 
awoke at 4am with fever of 101.5- call the dr about 4:30am, and he explained that Taxotere is a beast and this is all normal.  He called in antibiotics to the 24hr pharmacy
severe chills
joint pain- I couldn't be still for more than 30 seconds without excruciating pain
hand numbness
skin so painful

Day 9:
joint pain
hole in stomach feeling- doubled me over and took my breath a few times
kidney pain
skin sensitivity and pain
dry skin- feels like it's going to split open
tooth pain- in all of them!
deep chest cough

Day 10 (today): 
down 8lbs- but.....
fever gone
more energy
walked .66 miles on treadmill
joint pain gone- I think the walking helped with that

Although this chemo has been SO hard on me, and I don't know how I'll make it through another round, I think the fasting has helped tremendously.  If I had not fasted, I would have had neuropathy in my hands and feet from day 1, and I would have had mouth bleeding the entire time.  I didn't have any of that, so I know it helped.  I can't even imagine how bad this round would have been had I NOT fasted.  

But I'm over the hump!  I'm starting to feel a little better. All I have to do now is stay hydrated and wait for my blood counts to come back up.  Can I make it one more round??!!  I'm really scared, but I'm going to fight like hell!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

I awoke this morning with one large gasp for air, as if someone had been holding my nose and mouth, not allowing me to breathe.  Covered in sweat, and a burning in my chest that stretched all the way up my throat into my teeth and ears.  My body is in so much pain,  I can hardly move.  My feet feel like I've been holding them over a fire, and as I reach down to rip my socks off, the pain in my back and neck are almost unbearable.  I feel like I've been hit by a bus.  

And as I lay here for what seems like an eternity, trying not to move for fear of that pain again, all I can think about is, "How can this happen to children?"  How do they endure it?  If this cancer is somehow Karma for anything I've done in my past, how could God inflict the same on a child?  The worse I feel, the more my heart aches for those that have been through this torture.  And I can't even imagine the devastation that people feel when these chemotherapy measures stop working.  The endurance, stamina and mental fortitude required to withstand this chemical beating seems out of reach some days, but I know I'll make it through.  I know this is temporary.  

I know this is the beginning of a new year full of possibilities.  Without this struggle, I would lose sight of all the small intricacies that make my life beautiful.   I think this cancer is God's way of double-checking to make sure I want to be here, like a parent threatening to take back a gift from an ungrateful child.  I get it. And I will fight every single day with all that I have, to prove that I want to be here.  

The pain will go away.  The cancer will go away.  And 2014 will forever be known as my Year of Enlightenment.  It will be the year I started life over with a more grateful and empathetic soul.  For others that have walked a path of turmoil and struggle, and come out the other side as a better person, you have my greatest respect and admiration.

Savor every moment in 2014.