Kicking Breast Cancer's Butt

TinaH

Just back home after completing infusion number 11.  Riding down in the elevator at SCCA, for the first time in a long time, I FELT like a cancer patient.  So drained, and my hands tingling like they were shot full of the anesthesia they give you at the dentist…

And for the first time EVER, I had a moment when I wanted to call my doctor and tell her I don’t want to do the final infusion.  My hands were so numb, it scared me.  I kept thinking how I wanted to take a nap, but I was afraid to go to sleep, as I might be having an allergic reaction.  Up to this point, I’ve been taking the paclitaxel like a champ.  But the side effects are cumulative, so perhaps an allergic reaction could still happen, even though I’ve had no issues on that so far.  Driving home with Ken I was having visions of ending up in the emergency room this time, and was considering calling the oncologist to tell her “I can’t do this again.”

Thankfully, the feeling has passed, and my hands and feet feel as they normally do during this process.  Tingling and numb, but well controlled while I am taking the L-glutamine.  And in no way frightening.  Just annoying.

But I’ll let her know what happened, and how long the effects lasted, and let her do what she does best.  Because she is awesome.

So my hair is growing, which is good.

However, a couple of weeks ago I got a bee in my bonnet to wear eye makeup, and found out just how much you NEED eyelashes, just to keep the powdered shadow out of your eyes.  Most frustrating, as I had about 3-5 lashes total on each upper eyelid. Yikes!  And don’t even get me started on how difficult it is to line up false eyelashes without the marker of your real eyelashes to guide you, or on how to know where to stop with the highlighting shade, when you have no eyebrows.  Freak show potential here!

Now, fast forward to today.  My upper eyelids, and I hope I’m not jinxing myself here, have a profusion of tiny, short lashes growing out and filling space.  Whoo, hoo!  Oh my gosh, I hope my whoo, hoos are not spoken too soon…

My eyebrows are a maybe, at least on the left.  Short dark hairs seem to be growing in.  Not so much on the right.  Did I tell you I got fed up with them and shaved the rest off?

Two more infusions to go, so I may yet lose all ground I have gained here in the last couple of weeks.  Sucker…

Feet feel a LOT better today.  Nail beds of the fingers still a little touchy, makes it not fun to type this.

Toe nail beds feeling better.  Still don’t want to clean my house, though. 😛

 

Taking another week off from Taxol.

Nail beds in my fingers and toes still tender.  Feet are still numb, and sometimes hurt.

Next week I have an appointment with the doctor anyway, so we’ll reassess, but I assume I will be back in the taxol saddle again that day.

Ugh, that will be a loooonnnngggg day for more reasons than one.

 

I never considered the possibility of having to take a break from chemo.  I’ve just been head down, and plow through to the end, always counting the weeks until I can be done with first the A/C and now the paclitaxel.  But the fact of the matter is the neuropathy in my feet has been getting worse, and the nail beds in both my fingers and toes are increasingly more painful.  I had been thinking that this is all within the normal range of side effects, and so while I complain, I don’t take any other action, except to be very, very careful of my nails. But Ken’s been bugging me to call my oncologists office and let them know.  He’s losing sleep over it, having crazy dreams about it.  Lately he had been teasing me that if it was up to me I would never say anything, about any symptoms, until I showed up for a doctor’s appointment with my arm in a bag (cause it could fall off and I still wouldn’t call her) saying “Yeah, my arm fell off, but I read on the internet that this is normal.”  So I finally called her, and she asked me to come in on Thursday before my weekly infusion.  She is concerned that if we don’t address the issues, some of the effects could become permanent.  She feels that 1) we should lower the dose (it will not be any less effective if we lower it), and 2) I need a break of 1-2 weeks, which I was hesitant to do.  I just want to get this over with, you know?
But the more I talked to her, and the more I thought about how well I was doing earlier on, most likely because I had a break between the A/C dose dense cycle and this paclitaxel, I came around to see that she is right about taking a break.  Not only will it lessen my chances of having lasting effects of neuropathy, but it will make it easier for me to get through the rest of this cycle. But she was willing to let me make the decision, and for that I am grateful.  She listens attentively, and is willing to let me have the final say.  But she was right, and I just had to get to that conclusion on my own time, and in my own way.  She gave me the freedom and the trust to allow me to do that.  Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE my medical oncologist? Because I do.  I can’t imagine going through this with any other doctor.
All this means that my last infusion will be in October instead of the end of September, as I was looking forward to, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

For those of you keeping track, today was my infusion #7 of Paclitaxel, out of 12 total.

Chemo infusion #11 overall, of a total of 16 prescribed, if you count the dose-dense A/C, which Ken does count.

Looking at it from Ken’s perspective, in truth we are beginning our decent off the top of THIS mountain.

This plus the additional good news of my friend Anne, who got a clean bill of health from her surgeon, and NO metastases, means that today has been a GREAT day.  Halleluiah!

 

So I can’t stand door-to-door sales types, like most of you.  I never know what to say to get them off my porch, without feeling like a bitch for being honest when I say “I am not interested.”  Whatever feeble reason I give, it’s never good enough, and I find myself in a battle of excuses and counter-attacks, until I am weary and confirmed as the wimp that I know I am.

Well, today was a little different.  I’m sitting at home, worn out from traveling and chemo, trying to relax and enjoy Phillippa Gregory’s “The Lady of the Rivers”, when some poopedy-poop head starts leaning on my doorbell, and then pounding on the door, apparently because I am not moving fast enough. (It’s a long rambler, okay?)  I’m not wearing a head covering, cause even though it’s only 76 degrees outside, for a woman in the middle of chemo-induced menopause, it’s a freaking heat wave.  I’m ALWAYS too hot.  Except when I’m too cold, when I’m also freaking irritable.  The cold lasts about 37 seconds, the irritable lasts all day.

Anyway, there I am, all Amazon warrior princess, bald-headed and cranky.  I get to the door, and open it to a FIOS representative with his little clipboard and badge.  Shit.  Not even the UPS guy with a package for me.  Packages I cheer up for, and can even manage a smile.  But no, it’s a FIOS salesmen.  They are here about every three months, no matter if I already have FIOS or not (we don’t).  For this I hate them.  “Hi!” he says, way too cheerfully.  “Yeah?” I say, my tone implying what the hell do you want NOW.  “I’m from FIOS,” he chirps, again, way too cheerfully.  I pause, taking in his badge, his clipboard, his anxious face.  “I don’t want any,” I say, tersely.  “Okay!” he says, apparently very happy to be released, and no argument or cajoling to keep the sale.  Wow, that was easy.

Either his sales quota is in good shape, and he doesn’t really need ME, or it’s just not worth pursuing if it means he has to deal with ME, the one-breasted, bald-headed crank of Lynnwood.  Either way, I’m laughing my butt off, as  to me, this is the funniest thing EVER.

Bald is power.  I may keep it this way.

So, so last night. Thursday was taxol infusion #6. Nurse calls it “the top of the mountain” and in a way it is, so, yay! Though I must recognize that each infusion only intensifies the effects. Even as we celebrate being halfway through taxol, in reality things could become more difficult the closer we get to the end. The possibilities include more fatigue, more neuropathy, more nail pain.  But we gotta keep on truckin’.

So, so tired today…

Taking ibuprofen, but that doesn’t really help with the neuropathy.  My feet are numb and tingling all over, not just the bottoms of my feet, but now the tops as well.

So yesterday, Friday, was for me a super terrific day.  24 hours post infusion #4, and I had no pain in my hands, no numbness in my feet, no all-over body aches or cramping, so I got a little cocky.  I took out the recycling, did some laundry, and the topper, scrubbed the kitchen floor.  Well, today we are starting off with two Aleve before breakfast.  My hands and feet are numb, my joints ache, and while so far I don’t feel my usual all over fatigue, I can sense it coming, as all across the top of my shoulder blades we have the beginning of a deep-down muscle ache.  And no, I don’t think it’s all from scrubbing the darn kitchen floor.  Although the ache in my right bicep may be from that.  I think I’m getting too old for this crap…