It's time for an update and then back to some regular blogging. What's sad is when the people in my own home are asking me when I'm going to do another blog post. It just seemed like all the blog posts were about my breast cancer, and on top of that I was feeling pretty crummy. So I'll give you kind of a run down in this post and then maybe we just won't have to talk about it for a while, okay? I know that it encompasses my life right now, but funny things do still go on around our house.
I had my four adriamycin/cytoxin treatments, each two weeks apart starting in June. I was violently ill after the first one and the oncologist changed my premedication after that (in case anyone is interested, it was changed from zofran/compazine to emend/aloxi/ativan). I received neulasta shots at home after each treatment for my bone marrow to produce more bone marrow, thus increasing my white counts. That caused some significant bone pain for anywhere from three to five days. I had lots of food aversions while I was on the a/c treatments.
Two weeks after the last a/c I received the first of 12 weekly taxol chemotherapy treatments. I also receive herceptin since I was HER2+. That weekend was when I had the blood clot and went to the emergency room. So between the first and second taxol treatments I had surgery to remove my port, which is how I received all my chemotherapy and IV work, but not blood draws. Now I'm receiving everything through IV only in my left arm since I had lymph nodes removed on the right side when they did the lumpectomy. Because of the threat of lymphedema I can no longer have blood pressure or blood work done on the right side. My veins are getting a little ratty and we are hoping they hold out or I will have to get a picc line in my arm. I really don't want to do that.
When I went for my second taxol treatment the day after my port removal surgery, my white counts were very low, but they were still high enough I could get chemo. I did have to get shots that week to get my counts up. Since there is only a week between treatments I have switched to neupogen, which is a series of three shots instead of only one shot. The oncologist told me that usually people don't need shots until around the eighth week or so. Of course I had to be different. I got the shots every other week a couple of times, but my counts would be so low on the off week that I could barely get my chemo, so now I get the shots every week. Hubby gives them to me at home.
I got a cold a couple of weeks ago and had to postpone week eight. I never had a fever, which was very good. I am having treatment number nine tomorrow and then only have three more to go after that.
I'm having regular hot flashes from the chemo-induced (temporary) menopause. I don't have food aversions anymore but in the last few weeks almost everything tastes like metal. I can count on one hand the things that don't. I still have a small smattering of eyelashes and eyebrows. I'm losing some of the hair on the sides of my head that I still had. I'm trying to decide if what little bit was left on the top is thinning too. Not like it really matters at this point.
I had a problem with a tooth in the middle of all of this. It ended up only being something that was the result of chemo and resolved on it's own, thank goodness! One of the side effects of taxol is bone pain, but I guess since I receive weekly doses the effect isn't as strong because I'm not having any from it. I do have about two solid days of significant pain from the neupogen shots and I'm very fatigued during that time, almost to the point of being narcoleptic. By the time I get the third shot of the week it's starting to dissipate a little. There has also been a nationwide shortage of taxol in the middle of my treatment, but since I'm part of a clinical trial I still get it.
Chemo takes about four hours each time now. I get aloxi (nausea), ativan (nausea), decadron (steroid, anti-inflammatory), benadryl (for possible allergic reaction), pepcid (for stomach irritation), taxol (chemo), and herceptin. I usually eat breakfast before I go and eat very light in the evening. I snack on pretzels while I'm there, and sometimes donut holes. Yep, donut holes. Whatever works.
That's kind of the nuts and bolts of what's been going on. If for any reason you have questions about anything, please feel free to ask me either in the comments or by email.
We've had a birthday at our house, are having another birthday this week at our house, I finally took down the Easter wreath, and I cleaned out the junk drawer, so I should be able to find something to blog about next. And without waiting almost two months this time!