Midlife necessities

Midlife necessities
Midlife necessities

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Let There Be Light

All in all last week was a good one. My generous parents had my carpet cleaned for me - it's been so long I can't even remember the last time it was professionally done. Clean house, clean dogs and clean carpet for Christmas! It's so nice! I was able to do some shopping, a few dinners and breakfasts out, and even some yard work. Gus helped me with my Christmas tree and hung the house lights.  Since I have to rest and focus on my health, I'll enjoy my home while I'm doing it!

Chemo #8 December 15

Fourth treatment of Taxol out of 12 total. Gus was my chemo driver and partner, and I was really looking forward to introducing him to all my Filipino nurses! He got to see how the blood is drawn and the dressing is changed. We had a big lunch at the usual chemo day place, and were ready to start at 1:30.

The calm before the Benedryl storm!

I had my choice of chairs because it wasn't very busy so I sat at the end of the room by the window. Ben was my nurse, and we had a good time with him. The chemo experience is different than I thought it would be. Partly because of the room layout; most of the chairs, except for the the four at the end of the room, are next to each other with lots of space and machines in between making it difficult to talk to your neighbors. Plus, I never recognize any other patients there. I have treatments every week and it seems like that isn't very common, I guess most people go every three weeks. And it's so quiet! Many people seem to want to sleep or read while they are getting their treatments, and I want to laugh! I made Gus play Heads Up with me, and not only were we laughing, but so were Ben and the woman across from me. We were playing that game when my oncologist came out to talk with me.

He asked me how I was doing with treatments and I told him "great". He asked about the peripheral neuropathy, and he was surprised when I told him I haven't had any. Apparently as treatments progress I could develop this side effect but we shall have to wait and see. He reminded me that when chemo is finished I will start radiation and also begin taking Tamoxifen. I will take this drug because the type of breast cancer I had (past tense now, yay!) was hormone-receptor positive. Hormone-receptor positive breast cancers need estrogen and/or progesterone to grow, and tamoxifen blocks estrogen from attaching to the receptor. I will take Tamoxifen for at least five years and possibly up to ten, which will probably be a daily reminder that I've had breast cancer (and am beating it, too!)

The doctor then patiently answered all my questions from my list... Me: Can I play tennis? Dr: (surprised) Do you FEEL like playing tennis? I haven't played tennis in awhile because of tendonitis. Let's wait until you are finished with chemo. Me: Can I go to the dentist? Volunteer? Drink wine? (not surprised, he said he knew I'd ask him that one haha) Dr: Let's wait. Me: What about this pain in my arm, like it's pulling? It seems to be getting worse. I'm trying to stretch it out and do arm weights. Dr: That is common after lymph nodes are removed. Keep stretching and lifting, it will help prevent lymphodema. Me: When am I DONE? Dr: Your last cycle is on January 26 (Gus and I were surprised and excited until we clarified that the four Taxol cycles are three weeks' long, which makes my last chemo on February 9, which is still a few weeks' earlier than I thought and my birthday week! I'm half way through my total ACT chemo!) One last question, something that has been bothering me as I've been doing more research. Was I really Stage III? The doctor said according to him, I was Stage IIB (none of us could remember why the previous oncologist said I was Stage III). He also said it doesn't matter because it doesn't affect my treatment. But to me it DOES matter, and you can bet I'll take Stage IIB over Stage III! 

The Benedryl kicked in while I was talking with my oncologist and made it difficult to think and speak. I'm glad Gus could translate for me because 50 mgs of Benedryl directly into my bloodstream just isn't pretty! After the doctor visit, we played a few more rounds of Heads Up before I just had to close my eyes. I seriously could not stay awake! We were finished at 4:00, an hour and a half for premeds and only an hour for the Taxol. I crashed as soon as I got home, took a three hour nap, got up for dinner and The Voice, and went to bed around 11. I was very fortunate to get more sleep this Monday night, although I woke up often I was able to fall back asleep and didn't wake up for good until 5:30 this morning. 

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and in between is Christmas and New Years. Lots of light, both literally and figuratively! "My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!" Psalm 57:7

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