Tag Archive | Breast Cancer

The good Fight! (The good, the bad and the HORRIBLE!!)

The beginning of my low point

May 2 –

Training class – Woke up feeling so fatigued and without energy.  Heavy breathing during these times has become a new normal.  Having to sit down, take a break and rest while getting ready seems unheard of but I still went to work.   I was sooo tired that I didn’t feel like being the instructor today.  It wasn’t even 10:30  and I wanted to put my head down and fall asleep.   I got so fatigued and my eyes super heavy that I swear I lost consciousness for a moment.  I was talking about rewards cards and the policies that go along with it and suddenly I was talking about something else not even related to training.  In between that, is where I lost myself for a moment.   It scared the hell out of me.  What if that happens when I’m driving?  I could cause an accident.   It jolted me out of my fatigue for a while but it only got worse as the day went on.   When I left I was totally drained.  

My nephew came over later that evening and wanted to have a movie night.  I was so tired but I figured, all you do is sit or lie down, so why not.  Turns out I was too drained and wasted to even watch a movie.  Have you ever heard of that?   I finally had to just go to my room, but my body felt like it weighed 500 lbs and moving from the living room to my room took it straight out of me.   Walking there left me breathless and with a racy heart.

 I didn’t work the rest of the week.   I planned for a hard low point.   Its such a good thing I did it that way.   This last heavy round had me lethargic and miserable as hell.   All I did was lie in bed.  That’s all I was able to do and it left my body in pain.   From sun up to sun down, I laid in bed, getting up here and there.   Its horrible when you don’t even have the energy to eat and you’re soooo tired you can’t sleep.   The steroids that they give me keep me wide awake and make it impossible to sleep.   So, being fatigued and not sleeping is a HORRIBLE combination.  A couple of times, Dominic needed to go to a friends house to work on a school project, driving him there during my low point took ALL THE EFFORT IN THE WORLD!!!  And practically left me gasping for air and a need to pass out.  Crawling in bed became a normal routine.    I was running on pure fumes.    

Like before,  sores have invaded my mouth and these were the worst they have been!!!   I have them on my gums, my inner cheeks and the roof of my mouth.   Just having something to drink is painful and trying to swallow is the worst.  They prescribed me a ‘magic mouthwash’ serum of lidocaine.   That gave me relief enough to try and eat.   Everyday I lost a little more weight from not being able to eat.

 Friday – this is when I usually start to feel better and thinking that I was feeling better, I took a shower.   Holy cow I thought I was gonna pass out from a lack of energy and had to get out.   I barely had enough energy to get a towel, get out and take maybe 6 steps to my bed.  I didn’t think I was gonna make it.    I fell on my bed with such a heaviness.    My heart was pounding heavily from the exertion it took just to get there and my breathing was uncontrollable.   I couldn’t move from my bed.   I didn’t think my heart was ever gonna slow down.   I stayed there the rest of the day.    Oh what misery!!!   I was TKO’d from this last heavy round.   I started to feel depressed,  I even started missing my hair.   Something I hadn’t done.   I cried, I was so miserable and there wasn’t a single thing I could do about it.  That’s how it was gonna be.  Saturday came along and I still didn’t feel any better and nope, I didn’t get any sleep.   This had me worried cuz i needed to go back to work tomorrow and I still felt like hell.  

Sunday, May 7th – I just didn’t have the energy but I still showed up to work.  I’ve been having a hard time clocking in/out ( we use our fingerprint ) my hands have gotten like sandpaper and they are extremely dry.   They’ve been peeling nonstop as if I’m shedding skin like a snake.    They hurt really bad, not even lotion helps them.

  I was feeling so worn out that I needed to lean on my check stand just to help me stand up.  My breathing was heavy and as the day went on, it just got worse.   I can’t believe I’m not better by now.   This is going on almost a week of feeling like shit.    I went on break and went to Penny’s office, she and Clara Sue were in there and I just broke down and cried from exhaustion.   I couldn’t believe how awful I felt.   I had a meltdown.   Clara Sue sent me home and I left.   I got home and lied to my son.   He’s been super worried about me.   He was worried I was home early cuz I wasn’t feeling well.   That was the truth,  yes,  but to keep him from worrying more, I told him that the power had gone out at the store and that all we were doing was standing around, so I came home.   The story about the power going out was true, that did happen earlier at the store.  But I didn’t want him to know I was feeling like shit.  I went to my room to rest.  I was completely and totally zapped out.   My low point had me at my lowest and I didn’t think I was gonna make it.  If this is what hell is like than I’ve been there all week.   Misery and feeling lethargic aren’t even the words to describe how chemo makes you feel.  I don’t know if there are ANY words to describe it.   THIS week was the ABSOLUTE worst I had EVER felt in my life!!!!!!  😭

I just want my energy back.   I just wanna be me again.   Is that really too much to ask for??  

My babies: Reggie & Riley – Watching over me

 

 As shitty as it has been, slowly my low point disappeared and I was back to work on Monday.    

 

Thursday, May 11th  – Switching over to Taxol  

http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/druglist/taxol

20170808_180231

Today I begin the other chemo,   Paclitaxel (taxol) 131.2 mg.   This isn’t as intense as the other and it’s just 1 chemo, not a double dose.  I’ll do this one every week for the next 12 weeks.  July 27th is my goal.   It’s still gonna be on Thursdays so that I have the rest of the week to recover.   Since this is a weekly one, I hope it doesn’t knock me on my ass like the A/C did.   I don’t have that week in between to feel better.   I’m gonna get hit with this one weekly.   Like the others, this one came out in that same horrific packaging  😟    We start with premeds.   They’ve changed as well.   They’ll be different since this is a different chemo.  So we start with – benadryl,  pepcid and that awful steroid, dexamethazone.   People get horrible allergic reactions to this chemo and they need to keep a close eye on me.   Just in case, I’m given a call button.   Premeds are given, that took maybe 30 minutes.  Now time to switch.    Taxol is hooked up and that will take an hour.   Good Lord the benadryl made me very tired, I’m so sleepy  😴   Wonder why benadryl doesn’t work like that for me at home when I’m trying to get some sleep?  hmmmm. . .  When I take benadryl to try and sleep,  I don’t just count sheep, I count all of Noah’s Ark.   Funny how that is!!     The nurses explained to me that I need to be careful with Neuropathy.  It is a common side effect with Taxol.    It can cause irreversible nerve damage.  Symptoms include – pain, a pins n needles sensation,  numbness and weakness.  Can be burning and tingling or sharp in the hands and feet.  It can cause over sensitivity, reduced sensation of touch, or sensitivity to pain.  YIKES!!!! 😲   I hope I don’t get that 😧

https://www.google.com/search?q=neuropathy&rlz=1C1GCEA_enUS754US754&oq=neur&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.7927j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

   I no longer have to take those ‘at home’ medications nor do I have to come back the day after to get that booster *neulasta* shot.   I’m so happy because of this.   One of the medications was a steroid and would keep me wide awake.  Soooo, no more of those – YAY!!!!    Maybe I can sleep now. 

 Round 1 of taxol – complete!!    (so far, that is 5 rounds altogether)

 Friday – Wow, my hands really hurt.  They’re suffering a bunch.  They burn.  They look awful and even look discolored and they are peeling horribly.    My eyes are blurry but not as bad.   My mouth sores from my last A/C treatment are almost gone and I haven’t gotten dry mouth yet.   So, I really hope it’s true what they told me about the side effects not being so bad.  But, it’s only 1 day post Taxol, so we’ll see.   Last night I had so much energy I was wide awake with that damn steroid they give me as a premed, I was up til 1:30.   Lying in my bed staring into the dark.   I really need sleep.  

Saturday –   Man alive!!!!  My hands hurt soooooo BAD!!!  They burn like hell.   I can’t tell if the water is too hot when I wash my hands and it hurts to even do that.   It feels like I dipped my hands in acid.  I’ve never had pain like this before, ever, especially in my hands.   I can’t turn the door knobs, button my shorts or grab anything!!  😱  THEY.HURT.SO.BAD!!!!!!!  It has to be a chemical reaction to the new chemo.   I’ve lathered them with lotion and vaseline, doesn’t help.  Just vaseline with gloves on to seal in moisture, doesn’t help.    I put a healing ointment on them with the gloves,  nothing.  I got so desperate for relief, I dug out my Dads’ burn cream and lathered my hands in that,  Nada!!  NOTHING HELPED!    They hurt and burn terribly.  I can’t live with this kind of pain, it’s unreal.  I’ve never even heard of this kind of pain.  I can’t do this weekly, my hands hurting like this.  OWWWWWWWW  😭  

The next day at work I had the hardest time grabbing items to scan or typing codes on the keyboard.   The pain in my hands was still there and had only subsided a bit.   I feel worn out and tired today for the fact that I’m not sleeping and the pain kept me awake.   Since I had such a bad Sunday last week I had my lead supervisor only schedule me a 5 hour shift.    Thank God, by the time I left, I felt wiped out.   Also I had back pain isolated to one area.  I feel like I’m falling apart.   It seems to always be something.   I walked out with Penny and all I did was complain about how I felt, I felt so tired.   I told her about my back pain and she said to go home and just rest.   I think Sunday is my new low day.  I left, got home and stayed in bed the rest of the day.  Penny sent me this to lift my spirits.

Screenshot_2017-08-10-15-54-52-1

 

 Monday – 5/16 –  I didn’t have anyone in class so I went to my store and worked a few hours.   Learned the new system at self check out.  My hands feel so much better and so do I.  Just a bit tired.   But my back hurts on one side, in one spot, I feel like a small bump.  When I got home I checked it out.   I could see what looked to be like a small rash, like a bug bite.    I went to the other room and asked Dominic what it looked like.  He said, “yeah Mom,  it’s a bug bite”.  Damn bug, it hurts.  Okay,   I didn’t worry too much about it.  

20170515_203042-1

Wonder what bit me?   It’s painful when I touch it and it’s making my back hurt in just that area.  

The next day – ouchie, the rash from my bug bite spread.  And it hurts, it’s giving me more pain.   I was explaining what it looked like to one of my Aunties and she thinks its shingles.   Nah, it looks like a bug bite.   But I wonder??  

Wednesday – Okay something is not right.   This rash really hurts!!  And it looks horrible!  I’m having a really hard time with this pain and I’m at work.  I’m starting to wonder if my Auntie isn’t right.   MaryBeth says it’s shingles and so does one of my other managers.  I need to call the cancer center and find out.  

 

I call and explain that I’m in horrible pain.  The nurse and I go back n fourth with phone calls to figure out whats wrong with me.  I’m urged to go to urgent care to rule out shingles.  If they are shingles I won’t be allowed to come in for treatment tomorrow cuz I am extremely contagious and everyone at cancer center is at such a high risk for infection  😢

 At urgent care ( in an extreme amount of pain ) –  Yes, you have shingles!  😩  The doctor who saw me was an asshole and wasted my time.   Instead of being a professional doctor and prescribe me something, he offered me 3 different kinds of pain killers and asked which ones I would like?    What doctor does that?  If I was a druggie, this would have put me on cloud 9.   He actually wanted me to choose between the 3!!!   2 of them I had never heard of,  I was in so much pain I settled for the Tylenol w/codeine.   He gave me the scrip and I left, It was almost 9 and the pharmacy closes at the time.   I was still in disbelief, going to the pharmacy,  that he had me choose a medication.   Stupid fool!!   😡  Very unprofessional!!!!   I should have reported him, but I didn’t.   I went on with my misery.   Got my medication, went home and slammed a pill.   I needed relief so bad.  Did it work?   Nope. . . the pain kept me up ALL.NIGHT.LONG.   Even with taking it every so often, I felt no relief.  The pain was off the richter scale!!  Either the meds aren’t working or the pain is just THAT bad.  

20170519_130335-1-1

http://www.medicinenet.com/shingles_herpes_zoster/article.htm

Thursday morning – 5/18 –  OMGoodness!!  I can’t take this anymore.   I call cancer center and tell the nurse that the pain is just too much.  It’s the worst pain I’ve ever felt.  She lets my oncologist know and he calls me back.   We talk about my shingles and the pain and he tells me it can get really bad.   It’s nerve pain.  He prescribes me gabapentin, morphin and an anti-viral, Valacyclovir (Valtrex) 💊💊💊   I was shocked at the morphin.   Holy cow!!   I must be in pain.   Yes! I was!  Plus, I’m EXTREMELY contagious right now!!  I asked my younger brother Ray to take me to get prescriptions cuz I was in too much pain to drive and since morphin is a controlled substance they weren’t able to fax it in, I had to go pick it up.   I cried in the car to the hospital and to the pharmacy I was in so much pain.   I think my brother freaked out.   Got to the pharmacy and couldn’t wait for them to fill it.   The pharmacist couldn’t believe I was there again for more medications.  I asked her if she could just give me an epidural.   At least that one would give me instant relief.   WE get my meds and he takes me back home.  I can barely even walk with this pain.  Get home and slam all 3 pills, crawl in bed and wait for relief.  Morphin I need to take every 4 hours, gabapentin 3 times a day and Valtrex once a day.  Oh how I need relief!  This misery just goes on and on and on.   If its not weakness, fatigue, mouth sores or painful hands, it’s shingles.   And with every one, the pain gets more and more intense.  

20170518_142301

Reggie can sense I’m not doing well.  He is always near by to keep an eye on me.   He lays with me.   That’s his spot, near my face.   We rest together and he even kisses my face.  He’s been by my side ALL day!   When he meows, it’s like he’s asking me, “do you feel okay?”    I just love him.      Hopefully this horrible pain will go away, I hope these meds do their job.

20170518_212054

Reggie – Isn’t my baby just gorgeous?!

 

 Shingles are gross.  Open blisters on your skin with nerve pain from hell.   It’s hard to sit back on a chair without them hurting or lying on your back.   I wasn’t allowed to do my treatment today because of them.   So my date that I already had marked on my calendar (July 27th)  is no more.   It got pushed back to Aug 3.    I can’t get treatment til they pop and scab over.  When that happens then I can continue.   Damn you shingles!!!    I don’t wanna prolong this journey.   I don’t wanna be in pain and misery anymore!!  I just wanna be done!  😭   

Finally relief!!!    The next day I woke up to some relief.  Pain meds worked like a champ! I had a hell of time trying to get some sleep but at least I was able to keep my meds on schedule.   That morphin was the bomb and did what it was supposed to.   I’m tired as hell and worn out from all the pain I had yesterday but at least it’s gone.   Slowly they are trying to scab over and boy do they look nasty!!  I can’t do anything to speed up the process.  They have to run their course til it’s out of my system.  It can take up to 3 weeks.  In the meantime, I have all the nerve pain to deal with.  Thank God they gave me painkillers.   3 weeks is a long time to be in pain.   I say this all the time,   “I can’t wait til it’s over!  Man, I can’t wait!”

  A couple of days later.   Yuck!!  Nasty!!   It looks like I have a disease.    wouldn’t wanna be around me.   Gross!!!  *gag*   These little assholes are painful f**kers!    I hope you never have to experience them.  

 

May 24 – Treatment continues and I have to see the doctor.    He’s going to examine me,  see how I’m responding to chemo and check my shingles.  I hate the fact that I had to skip a week.  This should be my 3rd round of Taxol, instead, it’s my 2nd.   During the time of my shingle episode, my mouth sores went away.    Yay!!  I’m so happy for this!  It’s so hard to eat when you have horrible sores in your mouth.   My eyes haven’t been so bad but the dry mouth is still there.   He does his examination.   It doesn’t hurt at all like before, all the pain is gone.  He mentioned that it (lump) was harder to find and it felt like it was almost gone!!!!   *GULP*   almost gone?????    Did I hear him right??? Deep breath Sue, deep breath.    OMG  This is GREAT news!!!!  He said I was responding very well and the chemo was doing its job.   That’s just after 5 rounds!  I am a happy girl  😄 I needed this news.    I have been having some really hard days.    It brings you down to the point you feel depressed.   Today was a good day.   I will still need surgery.    Just as long as it continues to zap it out, I will fight to get to the end.     I’m off to do my treatment with my big girl panties on and my boxing gloves.   Eff you cancer.   I’m gonna beat your ass!!!!  

 The doctor asked if I was still working and I told him ‘yes’.  He said I was a very strong woman.   

 

 Oh the fatigue is back!   And it feels like its getting worse.    There are just some days where it feels like I’m at the bottom of a big black hole with no way to get out.   All I do is rest, even though I need it.   I can’t sleep at night at all and it’s wearing me down.   The doctor said it was gonna get harder and harder for me to work.   And trying to decide WHAT to do about work is weighing on me heavily.   Financially, I need to work.   Physically,   I need to be out, like now.   My Aunt wants me to go out on disability through social security but I don’t qualify.   I tried applying for food assistance, twice, but they denied me.   Even with the doctor bills starting to flood in.  I’m soooo stressed out.   And always so tired.    I can’t go out on FMLA cuz so much time needs to pass from the last time a person was on FMLA.  I was on it when I was out with my ankle and that’s only been a few months.  So, I have to wait til July so it can reset.    I just want all of this to pass.  I just wanna be me again.   I wanna feel good and not so tired all the time.   My son is now out of school and I can’t plan anything because of treatment and even if I did, I would probably be too tired.    All of this, EVERYTHING, suck ass.  The side effects, the fatigue, the pain.  JUST.SUCK.ASS.  I know I’ll get through it and it’ll pass.   But right now things are so dark and stormy, I can’t wait for a sunny day.  

June – The shingles are slowly healing.   They have scabbed over.  I still have nerve pain and I could have that for a while.   6/2 another round out of the way.  

 We’re having a work BBQ and Sarah, my oncology nurse is gonna be my date.  I just love her!!!  She takes the best care of me during treatment.  but she likes to pump my veins with toxins 😜  She does have heart of gold.  

Every now and then, there are some good days.  When those days come, you have to grab them and run with them.    They are few and far between, at least with me they are.   When the sun is shining and the birds are singing, you know you’re having a good day.  There isn’t always pain, but the tiredness is always there.  My eyes have been opened wide.   To how fragile life can be.  Every day that goes by I have a greater appreciation for life than I did before.  My life right now sucks balls, but guess what, I still love my life.  I thank God for my life everyday.    Aug 3 is 2 months away and I know I can get there.  Feb 13th  is getting farther and farther away from me.  That was 4 months ago I got my bad news.   Did I think I would get to this day 4 months later. . . nope.   I remember when I couldn’t think of anything else but breast cancer.   It was on my mind 24/7.  The fear, the obsession for information.   Now I don’t think about it so much, it’s not on my mind like before.   Now, I think about chemo, the side effects and not being able to sleep.  I think about how I’m gonna feel everyday that I wake up.    I guess thats mental progress.   My body is slowly getting used to this new treatment.   Now if the shingles can just go ALL the way away,  I would be a happier woman.    I still get pain in my back, the nerve pain.  The scabs are taking forever to fall off and its still painful to the touch.   Oh and I need sleep, lots and lots of sleep.    I would feel so much better if I was able to get sleep so my body can rest up.   It’s so worn down but I refuse to give up.   Gonna take it to the end.   I CAN DO THIS!!!! 🙏 💪 👊

 

 

I’m having the worst pain flare up of my life. . . . . . . . 😭😭😭

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highs and lows of A/C

April 2

Today is a day I thought I was prepared for but nope. . . I sure wasn’t!!!

Surprisingly, I felt very good today.   Didn’t feel tired or nauseous.   Didn’t feel any of that weakness or drained out feeling, just had knots in my stomach.    Since I had no choice but to chop off my hair last night, today would be the day I would go to work with a new haircut and color ( my wig ).   Let’s see how that goes.  I can tell you right now, I don’t feel comfortable at all!  

Got to work, nothing was out of the ordinary.   It has been FOREVER since I have done anything different to my hair, so naturally, EVERYONE noticed the new ‘change’.   To make me feel more at ease around my co workers since they were talking about the ‘cut and new highlights’,  Penny blurted out, “you finally went and did your hair!!”   I was glad for this because I felt sooo uncomfortable 😢 and just didn’t feel like me.  It seemed like I stuck out like a sore thumb.  It probably would have been easier to tell everyone that I lost my hair to chemo but to keep my life at work as normal and low key as possible I decided to play the charade of having a new haircut.   Penny said I looked great!!  Here is a pic she took of us.  

Penny and I

 

I got a ton of compliments and even got asked out on a date, haha, but I just wasn’t comfortable and since I was new to wearing a wig it felt like it was gonna slide right off of my head.   It didn’t help matters any when one of my coworkers said it looked like a wig.   Oh the stress of the day had me worn out.   In time, I’ll get used to the new me and I’m sure I’ll be flipping my new hair in no time.  But today was horrible even though the picture says otherwise.   I need to be able to feel like me and I just didn’t.  My day felt like it was never gonna end and I couldn’t wait to leave work.   I went home and cried my eyeballs out.   I was so overwhelmed and I still have months of this ahead of me.  Penny always knows just what I need to make me feel better.   So, she sent me this. . . 

Attach11604_20170331_113030

This too shall pass and tomorrow is a new day!

 

Its almost mid week, this is when my low point hit me the last time.    Tuesday, I have training classes and they’re upstairs.   Geez, never thought it would be so hard to climb stairs!   I think my no energy level is starting to kick in.  I felt like I was floating, but in a bad way, was not a good feeling.  I left work exhausted!  

 Wednesday –  man, I just do not have energy and I have to go to work.  I didn’t sleep well at all and my scalp has been hurting, it is so dry and tender.   I don’t have the luxury of having the week off like I did the last time I felt this way.  As if on cue,  the mouth sores, dry mouth and blurry eyes are all back.  and once again, the food tastes nasty.     This is gonna be rough.   Getting ready,  I really have the shakes and can’t even get my makeup on.   I needed to sit down and rest.  Finished getting ready and managed to drive myself to work,   geez, what was I thinking?   I’m never gonna make it through today.  I’m already so tired and my day hasn’t even begun.   I can barely even stand.   Please get me through the day.    

Don’t know how I did it, but I barely made it through my 8 hour shift.    Walking out to the car, I cried from being so very tired.   I can’t believe I still need to drive myself home. I just don’t have the energy, also there is a part of me that is very stressed out.   Tomorrow I get results from the genetic test I took to see if I’m a carrier of the cancer gene.   My mind and my soul just hasn’t been able to catch a break.   I had to have a meltdown when I got home.   and all I did was lie in bed the rest of the afternoon.   It felt like I couldn’t move.  My head (scalp) has really been hurting.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the very little hair that I have left is just dead hair.   Dead hair attached to my scalp and it feels like wire, like a brillo pad.   I think this is a big part of why I can’t sleep.  It hurts to lie my head anywhere, the sofa, a pillow, it just hurts 😦    I honestly can’t wait to shave it all off.    Never thought I would ever catch myself saying that.  I’ve already lost the majority of my hair due to my hair follicles dying out because of chemo, whatever is left is just dead, stiff hair.  

Thursday – I feel even worse!   This is worse than the last time!   They did tell me that with each round, the tiredness and weakness would be accumulative.   Man, they weren’t kidding.   There is no way I can make it through an 8 hour day at work.   Thank God, MaryBeth offered to do half of my shift.    I told Ted I wasn’t feeling well.   (Ted is my lead supervisor and he has no idea what’s happening with me)  There are only 4 people at my work who know what’s going on.   I left with relief and went home and crawled into bed til it was time to go meet with Karen to get my test results.    I’m still so stressed about that.  

RESULTS!!!!   Sitting in her office had my heart going 100 mph.   I’m so on edge.   Results are negative!!  I’m so relieved, I burst into to tears.   I am not a carrier of the gene  🙏   woo hoo!!   I cried in her office, cried all the way home and cried more at home.   I needed this relief.  I needed some good news.   Now, to get through this low point.  

Friday,  just like before, my energy came right back up and I was back to being me.   MaryBeth and I had made plans to shave the rest of my head.   So, I met up with her to take care of that.  I thought I was gonna cry and be hurt that the rest of my hair would be gone and now I would truly be bald, but to be honest, it was such a fricken’ relief when it all came off.  I didn’t realize how much it was hurting my head til it was gone. It even hurt as it was getting shaved..    I was already getting sores on my scalp from the dead hair.   So a bit of advise to anyone going thru this. . . . don’t be dumb and wait like I did to cut your hair or shave it.   Do, it right away with the 1st rounds of chemo.   I  put myself thru pain and misery trying to hold on to my hair.   No matter what, I was gonna lose it and I did.   Now, I can actually put my head on a pillow without it hurting me.

I do have some good news!!!!  That constant pain that I was having in my right breast where the lump is at is now gone! Yes,  gone.    I’m gonna take that as a good sign that the treatment is working.   I have had pain in that right breast since like last September and now it is gone!!!!!! Can it be true?!?!   I sure hope so.  

 Round 3 – As much as it doesn’t seem like it, it’s really going fast.   I can’t believe I’m on round 3 already.  All hooked up and getting infused.   Some of the mouth sores have traveled to my lips but no matter how hard I try there is just nothing I can do about that.  They come with every cycle  😩   Here are a couple of pics while I’m getting chemo.  

 

Grapes and I do this together.    I get hooked up on the upper part of my chest.   You can see it a bit over the rim of my shirt.   One more of this intense cycle and I move on to the lighter chemo.   Even though there are points where it seems like I don’t even have the energy to crawl, I have to admit I’m fighting this like a boss.   Yes, it brings me to low as hell points but I refuse to let it take me down.  Not gonna happen.   I have one more devil infusion to go.   I was told that when I switch to the other chemo my mouth sores should go away ( I really hope so)  It makes it very difficult to eat and because of that I have already dropped 10 pounds.  That’s in 1 month.   and that big dip of little to no energy should go away.    I really hope that’s true too!!!

20170413_155750

 

I felt so good a couple of hours after chemo that my son and I decided to go out for dinner.  We met up with Penny and her husband and had a great time!!    I wish I felt this good all the time.    In a few days I’ll feel like hell.   Tonight,   I’m going to enjoy it to the fullest!  And today was the best I have felt with my wig.  I actually felt pretty.  If I wouldn’t have told you, maybe you couldn’t tell that wasn’t my real hair.   Who knows, but yes, that is my wig.  

5 days later – ugh. . . here comes my low point.  Wow, it gets worse and worse with every cycle.   If I thought I didn’t have energy before, I really don’t have any now.   I was struggling with not feeling well at work and Ted started to notice this was happening a lot.  I literally didn’t have the energy to hold my own body up and I was starting to breathe heavy just because of the effort it took.   I told Ted I wasn’t gonna make it through the day and needed someone to cover the rest of my shift.  I almost started crying right then and there because of how horrible I felt and the fact i couldn’t stand.   When I went on break I finally made the decision to tell him, so my store director, Clara Sue and I pulled him into the office and gave him my news.  He needed to understand why I was feeling this way and why I needed to go home.  But at the same time I didn’t want my news to become public throughout the store.  He was speechless and I knew he would be.   But oh how I needed to leave.   It took all the energy I had to walk out the door and get to my car.   Now, I still needed to drive home.   oh gosh,  I really hate this!!    Got home and barely made it into the house to crawl into bed.  I just need to rest.  I’m sooo tired.   My low point lasted to the end of the week.   Its getting worse and lasting longer.   I even felt a little low on Sunday which is very unusual,  I’m usually back to normal by then.    Not this time.  

Round 4 – April 27th –  today I have to visit with the doctor.    He needs to examine me and see how things are coming along.   I hope it’s good news.   He does his examination,  I feel no pain to the touch.    This is very good news for me.   Cuz that lump has been a painful asshole.   He also tells me that he feels it has gotten smaller.  YES!!!!!!   That is VERY good news.   The treatment is doing its job.   Now to keep an eye on it and hope it shrinks all the way.     I’m so happy with this news and also happy that this is my last double chemo.   These 4 rounds have been truly hard.   The doctor has a hard time believing that I’m still working.    When I leave the cancer center I can’t help but feel, I’m done, I’m done, I’m done.    Those 4 big ones are over.   Now to start 12 weeks of the next one.   My battle is not over but it should get a bit easier.   I was told with this chemo,  that my hair could start growing back mid way, in peach fuzz form.   That the mouth sores should go away and my energy be a lot better.   I wanna believe all of that.   The mouth sores have been my biggest gripe and I’ve lost a few more pounds.   I  can only hope it gets better.

 

My low point hit me so hard I didn’t think I was ever gonna recover. . . . .  

 

 

 

 

 

There it goes, but remember. . It’s not just Hair!!

Round 2 – Mar 30th

And so the ride begins.    Round 2 has arrived.   I’m not sure if that went quickly or if it took forever.   It’s very hard to tell with everything that happened in just 2 weeks.   But here I am, gearing up for another dose of the ‘red devil’ and it’s companion Cytoxin. 

As I brushed out my hair this morning, more came out.   Just in lots of strands.  Its Thursday, 2 weeks exactly since the start of chemo and there goes my hair.   I’ve come across a few wigs to wear during the time I won’t have any, but a wig just isn’t me.   I’ll have to get used to it cuz I’m not ready, by no means at all, to rock the bald.   A couple of them look just like my hair, but I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb.   Like if everyone will be able to tell.  I guess we’ll see what happens. 

As always, the nurses at the cancer center are wonderful.   Once again I opted for a window seat to look outside.   This time I had a great view.   The scenery seems to ease my soul.   It’s tranquil.    

 

Displaying 20170413_130339.jpg

I could stare at all nature has to offer all day!!

 

Displaying 20170413_130324.jpg     My Chemo pole 🤢      Displaying 20170413_130406.jpg

My brothers and Clara Sue helped to keep me distracted while Sarah administered the ‘red devil’.   I really do dislike that one.   I mean, I dislike all that is happening to me.   But that adriamycin, I really don’t like.   I can’t help but feel that one is gonna cause me lots of grief.   During my infusion I was very happy when a dove came and perched itself on the wall.   I love doves.  When I see doves I think of peace, the holy spirit.   So it brought a smile to my heart and soul and eased my already troubled mind.    It stayed there for the longest time as if keeping a watchful eye until it flew away when a gardener was taking care of things.  

Displaying 20170413_132132.jpg

The burning sensation from the Cytoxan was there again.  It lasted about the same amount of time then it was gone.   I was prescribed an anxiety medication in case it came back strong like it did the last time.   Just to have on hand and to take when needed.   For the most part, I left feeling good, just a bit tired.    Nothing major.    Sarah once again informed me strongly it was time to cut my hair like really really short since it was starting to fall out.   That way I wouldn’t have to go through the agony of watching it fall out in globs.   I heard what she had to say but did I listen?     Round 2 complete.    YAY!

The following day, I felt like a normal person.   A bit of anxiety when I woke up but it soon went away on its own.   Blurry eyes have slowly returned and my mouth is dry.   Yuck, here we go again.   My mouth is very sensitive and tender and had to switch to a soft tooth brush and have to be careful when brushing.   I went about my day.   Couldn’t sleep for the life of me that night. 

Saturday, April 1st – 

Got up feeling okay.   Blurry eyes and dry mouth are in full force.   Either it’s the chemo or all the premeds including steroids I’m given or just a combination of it all.   All I can say is. . . . I don’t like it at all.   I won’t keep complaining about not being able to see or how awful my food tastes,  I’ll just leave that right here.   Just know that’s how it is.    I spent some time styling 2 of the wigs I had knowing I would be wearing them soon.   I tried to get the cut as close to my own hair as possible.   I guess it’ll be okay.   Still don’t wanna wear a wig but oh well that’s how its gonna be.   Later that day I took a shower, washed my hair. . . . OMGeeeeee!!!!!  *GASP*  My hair came out in GLOBS 😭  literal globs.  I couldn’t believe it!   It was non stop every time I ran my fingers through my hair. It came out so much that it bunched up and just tangled in a huge knot.   I couldn’t put my fingers through anymore.   I did my best to wash that tangled glob at the end of my head.   Oh why oh why didn’t I listen to Sarah?!   Now I understand when she said to cut it short.   I wouldn’t have to go through this!   It broke my heart, there goes my long hair.    No people, it is not just hair when it comes to chemo.   People say that all the time, ” it’s only hair, it’ll grow back”.   Well, yes it will.  But when you lose it and it’s not your choice to, no, it is not just hair.   It is a part of you, how you present yourself to other people, like the clothing we choose to wear.    So, if you know someone who is going through chemo, please don’t ever tell them it is just hair and it’ll grow back.   Have some compassion and know this wasn’t something they wanted to happen.   Trust me. 

As much as I didn’t want to but needed to, I had no choice.    I gathered that glob of tangled hair, got a pair of scissors and with my heart in my throat put it ponytail like,  took a deep breath and chopped it off.   I didn’t make my new haircut look pretty, it was all gonna fall out anyway.   But it was super short, like boy short and there was my hair.   I was holding it in my hands, all of my hair except for the little bit that stayed on my head.   It took 2 weeks and 2 days for this to happen.   Chemo wastes no time.   I felt like a whole different person even though in my heart I was still the same.    A sadness took over,  I needed to get used to the new me.  But its happening so fast I don’t even know where to start.  

 

Displaying 20170331_090326-1.jpg

My hair went from this ( strands ). . . . .

 

Displaying 20170630_144741.jpg

. . . to this ( a glob), in a matter of 3 days 😥

Oh the emotional distress your heart and soul go through is unreal.   And all the new things you are forced to get used to.   It really is hell and as I said before. . . this is only the beginning.    The only thing you can do is soldier forward, keep a great attitude and make the best of your new life.   I walked over to my son in the other room with my glob of chopped off hair in my hands and showed him my new haircut.    He was totally shocked at what I had to show him but he gave me a huge boost to my confidence when he said, “your short hair doesn’t look bad at all, it looks good”.   Oh how I needed to hear that  💖    But after that moment I would no longer show my hair or my head.   

 

Displaying 20170402_162135.jpg

. . and this is what you get.  This is the end result.   Rockin’ my beanie!!   This is the new me.   

 

The turmoil that my heart was in was on overload.    I am doing my very best to cope with how things are going and trying to keep that positive outlook.  But some days you are just not prepared for and today was one of them.  I’ll get used to it, it’s just not gonna be today or tomorrow or the day after that but someday.   For now, I’ll just be in my own private hell till things get better.   Tomorrow I go to work and I don’t even know how I’m gonna handle the day, I’m just not ready.    I’ve told no one but my son.   *sigh*    I guess we shall see.  

 

 

 

So,  slowly into that dark and scary haunted house I go. . . Where it’s pitch black and things jump out at you at any moment that you just weren’t expecting. . . . 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 13 days of Chemo

Day 1   (Mar 17th)  –   The day after round 1 of chemo.  I couldn’t sleep a wink.   Anxiety had the best of me.  2:30 in the morning and I was looking for someone to talk to or text. I just didn’t wanna wake anyone up.  I was WIDE awake!!  😲  My heart was racing to nowhere and just wouldn’t slow down.   Is this how it’s gonna be?  I should be exhausted from my day and out like a baby.   Instead, I was tossing and turning and expecting at any moment to feel like shit.    Honestly, I felt the same physically.   Nothing was different, I didn’t feel sick.   Other than anxiety and getting no sleep,  things felt the same.   I was mentally exhausted, for sure!  Ever since Feb 13, this day has been cemented  and burned into my mind and my soul.  I have dreaded it, wished it away, cried about it,  hoped it wasn’t true, yet it still came.   It still came, and guess what, I survived it, I’m still here and I’m still me and round 1 is all over.   Oh, the horror my mind put me through.   The situation is a horror all in itself, but my mind has drug me through the mud.   It doesn’t shut up, even now.  I really did mean it when I said before our minds can be an evil place.   My mind has made the situation MORE of a nightmare and doesn’t let me have peace,  if that is even possible in times like these.   

I got up and went about my day like any other Friday.  It was St. Patty’s, so naturally, I dressed in green.    Looking a bit tired and frazzled.  

20170317_091930

 

I dropped my son off at the bus stop and had errands to run but my anxiety was off the charts and my mind was going 100 mph.  I text my brothers’ GF to see if I could pick up my niece to take my mind off things and she agreed.   Thank the Lord!!   I needed to be with someone.  I didn’t wanna spend the day alone.  I picked her up and we did my errands together.  My anxiety disappeared.   What a little life saver my niece was.   I had no anxiety the whole time she was with me.  By the time we finished and had lunch, I was completely exhausted, it finally hit me.  Wow, how I needed sleep.  But as long as she was awake, there was no getting any unless she slept and she didn’t.  By the time she left, it was almost time to go in for my Neulasta injection.   I will need to get this injection the day after every A/C infusion.  

https://www.neulasta.com/?WT.srch=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjwwqXMBRCDARIsAD-AQ2j2Lji4clW2r9sge9oYvwTUAeKYZX6qZnRZrwnQDGnJ20EKyJ6aoWAaAtC3EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Neulasta – Bone marrow stimulant.  It helps the body make white blood cells after receiving cancer medications.  It helps to reduce the chance of infection due to a low white blood cell count.  I call this a booster shot. 

This visit wasn’t long at all.   I was in and out in no time.  The injection was given to me in the fat of my belly and I was sent on my way.   Wow, that was simple and no pain at all.  Maybe all of this won’t be so bad.    Wrong!!!    Later that afternoon, I was talking to another one of my Aunties’, my Auntie Diane and while speaking with her I was hit with a horrible anxiety attack that seemed to last forever and I couldn’t breathe.   I think today’s injection and yesterdays chemo and of course everything else, finally got the best of me.   My anxiety hit an all time high.  By the time we ended our conversation my anxiety attack was gone, good thing I had someone to talk to.   sheesh, I don’t like this at all 😢

My mouth is starting to get very dry and my eyes are getting blurry.  I must be very tired.   I would love some sleep, maybe tonight.  Anxiety, please leave me alone.  

Day 2  –  Nope, still no sleep and my anxiety hung around and didn’t leave me alone.  I woke up with my mouth extremely dry and my eyes more blurry.   Geez, this no sleep is making my eyes very yucky.   It’s hard to focus.   Other than that, I still feel like me, normal.   I don’t feel sick, my tummy feels fine.   I did have to take my at home medications. – 2 pills of dexamethazone  and 1 claritin.   The dexamethazone I will need to take for 3 days after chemo and the claritin for 7 days. 

Made myself breakfast.   Gross!!!   It tastes awful!   Not even water tastes the same.   It all has no flavor, like cardboard.   And the dry mouth doesn’t help at all.   Oh no, is this how it’s gonna be?   Not being able to taste my food or drinks?   😭

Tonight my son and I have a dinner date with Clara Sue and her husband.   It’ll be nice to get out and hang out to get my mind off of everything that is going on.   Can’t wait.

On the drive to her house – wow, I’m really having a hard time with my eyes, they are soooo blurry!   What the heck?!  

Dinner time –  I can’t taste my food at all 😞 and the soda is awful!  Water doesn’t even taste good and I LOVE water.   It’s not her fault, I’m sure her dinner was great!  My mouth is unbelievably dry and nothing soothes it or quenches it.  Food feels very pasty and thick.  It must be the chemo or the medication.  I hope it doesn’t last.  I love food. However, I did really enjoy getting out and the company, that was the best part. 

On the way home – OMgoodness!   I almost can’t see at all!!   It’s late and dark and my eyes are deceiving me horribly.    We’re on I-40 going west and I can’t see for shit!!   The blurriness is awful and very dangerous if you’re driving.   Please get us home safe.  

Made it home safely,  thank the Lord!!  I don’t think I’ll ever drive at night again while on chemo.   That was awful!!   Time for 2 more dexamathazone.  Nope, water still tastes yucky.   It’s time for dry mouth rinse.   I found this mouth rinse at my work and boy what a relief.   Too bad it only lasted a while.   Guess I’ll be rinsing my mouth quite often.  Water actually tasted good for a moment.   But it didn’t last long.  But this will give you momentarily relief.   I suggest it.  It is a store brand of biotene, just a lot cheaper, but same effect. 

20170616_152220-1.jpg

Day 3  –  I still didn’t sleep very well but I got up, got ready and went to work.   Yes, I went to work.   Other than feeling a bit tired I felt absolutely normal.   Didn’t even feel sick.  No one at work suspected anything and I didn’t miss a beat.  I was still my happy self.   I won’t let chemo change me, I am still me.   You couldn’t even tell I had just went through an intense round of chemo just a few days earlier.   My work family who know were actually very surprised.  I refuse to let this change my life.   My life will continue to go on as planned.   It just got monkey wrenched but that will be temporary.    Positive attitude Sue, gotta keep that positive attitude.   Work will be good for me and keep me from thinking too much.   I need to engage with my customers and coworkers to keep me sane.   I’m gonna try working as long as I can.  But after today I will be on spring break with my son.   I need this time off to give my mind, body and soul a break.  Things have been non stop since February.  I need a break with my son.  

 My mouth is still extremely dry and my eyes are just horrible.   Guess that’s the new norm 😧  Food just doesn’t taste good  *sigh*    

Day 4  –  Spring break with my son, yay.   Got some errands done and I feel pretty good, just a bit tired.  But nothing too bad.   Eyes are very dry and mouth is horrible.  Hopefully some eye drops will help, cuz I need something.   And food tastes nasty.   When will this go back to normal?    If all goes well and I feel okay, my son and I are taking a day trip to Chimayo, NM with Clara Sue and her husband tomorrow.  I can’t wait to get away.    

Day 5  –  day trip, yay.   Almost a 2 hour drive, wow that tired me out and I wasn’t even driving.   Santuario, my son has never been here and I haven’t be here in over 20 years.  Loved it.   My son enjoying some quiet time next to a small stream.   This warmed my heart.   We so needed to get away from life. 

20170321_115026-1.jpg

              20170321_114747-1.jpg

We went to a restaurant close by for lunch.    It smelled so good and I was starving.    Yuck!!!   This was the worst my food had tasted!   The dry mouth has taken over horribly!!   My mouth was so dry I couldn’t even break down my food as I was chewing it.  It seemed like I was eating rubber and no matter how much I chewed I just couldn’t break it up.  The soda tasted nasty and so did the water.  But I forced my food down my throat for the fact that I was so hungry and needed to eat.    We left, stopped at a couple of places before making the drive back home and by this time I was totally wiped out.   Holy cow I was exhausted!   I almost couldn’t hold myself on my own 2 feet.  I was drained!!  I hope it was just from the trip.  

Day 6  –  I thought I would get some good sleep cuz of the day I had but nope,   I woke up completely drained and wiped out.   And it wasn’t a normal drained and wiped out either how I used to know it.   This was different.   This was a very different kind of tired.   I laid in bed ALL day.   Something I don’t ever do.   I’m always doing something.   Not this day.   It took effort just to move.   I was told for my chemo session that I would hit a very low point about 6 days after my chemo, well here we are on day 6 and I think it hit me.   I thought maybe I just had too much day yesterday.   This was awful.   I have no energy and I don’t wanna do anything.   I.am.so.tired 😢   Dry mouth and blurry eyes continue.   Eye drops don’t help at all.  

Day 7  –  One whole week after chemo.   OMG  I feel like total shit!!  I don’t feel sick, I feel wiped out like I’ve never known.  The energy just isn’t there and feeling drained is off the charts.  I have the shakes soo bad.   It seems like I have Parkinson’s.   I don’t wanna move from my bed.  I have to go to the cancer center to meet with social worker and I just don’t have the energy and can’t see for shit.   My eyes have gotten to the most blurry they have ever been in my life and the dry mouth is nonstop.   I drive myself to cancer center and don’t know how I walked inside without passing out.  I used up what little energy I had just for that and couldn’t wait to sit down.   We talked and she took my information for some programs she thought would be helpful for me.  I requested to speak to a nurse about my dry mouth and very blurry eyes and my loss of energy.   She told me it was all part of chemo and that’s how it was gonna be.   I need to keep myself on a good diet.  And try to rest as much as I could.   There was nothing I could do about my dry mouth but the mouth rinse and eye drops would not help.   The chemo was killing all of my cells and it kills the fast growing cells first like your hair cells, mouth cells (saliva) and the wetness (natural tears) your eyes produce.  It was something I couldn’t stop and something I was gonna have to get used to.  And my low to no energy was a side effect as well.  This was my low point and another thing I had no control over.  It would pass after a few days *deep sigh*    Please Lord, get me through this.   I couldn’t think of a time I had ever felt this way.   This was worse than having a full blown flu.   I almost felt depressed.  

Day 8  –  I still woke up feeling the same, absolutely drained and without energy.    Making something for breakfast took all the effort in the world so I just settled for a bowl of cereal, which later on upset my stomach to no end.  I think it was the milk.   I have never had issues with milk.    Oh I hate this!!!   On the upside, I think my dry mouth is getting better and I can taste a bit of food.  I hope its getting better.  I never imagined it would be like this.   Good thing I’m not at work this week.   But my poor my son,   I haven’t done anything with him on his spring break 😢

 I have never laid around so much.  I finally had a small bit of energy by afternoon and my son and I had some chicken for lunch.   Surprisingly, this gave me a huge boost to my energy and by the later afternoon all of my energy was back.   I bounced right back after 2 1/2 days of feeling as low as I have ever felt.  I actually ran some errands and so grateful to feel like me again.   It was amazing how that low point came and went.  From Tuesday afternoon to Friday noon,  that’s how long it lasted then it was over.   I was back to me, yay, I’m so happy.  

Day 9  –  I woke up feeling so good that my son and I took a day trip to Ponderosa to visit family that live out there.  I was surprised with the way I felt.   It was almost like the past week didn’t even happen but it did.   The 1 hour drive was a piece of cake and didn’t tire me out at all.   We enjoyed our day out there and my family couldn’t believe how well I looked for just having chemo a week earlier.   I myself couldn’t believe how well I felt but boy was I ever so thankful.   I don’t wanna ever feel like I did again.   The drive home didn’t bother me and the rest of my day was awesome!!  Wasn’t even tired.  

Day 10  –   Well, I woke up with a new side effect 😫  mouth sores.  Ouch, do they hurt.   They are open blisters on my gums.   Man alive!   Whats going on?   I had no idea all of this could happen.   Maybe I brought this on myself.   I was enjoying sunflower seeds yesterday.   Maybe the salt on them wasn’t good for me.   My papers say that mouth sores are very common and can be very painful and get really bad.   Well, looks like they landed right in my mouth.  On the upside, my taste buds have gotten better and I can finally taste my food.   Oh a coke tastes so good.   But the mouth sores make it very hard to eat.   And my blurry eyes finally cleared up.   I can see.   I guess with everything that’s good comes something bad.   What can I do about it but find a way to live with it. 

Day 11  –  Woke up feeling great and went to work.   Worked a whole day without feeling drained or tired.   Life is good.   Still no one suspected anything and I didn’t let on.   My life was normal just like before.   And being at work really took my mind off of things.   My only gripe is that my mouth sores are multiplying and they really hurt and make eating near impossible.    Guess I need to find a new mouth rinse for mouth sores now.  *sigh*  

Day 12  –   Went to work again feeling great.  Mouth sores are still there but my food finally tastes normal again and water and the blurry eyes are all gone 😃  My life almost feels like it did before Feb. 13th.  

Day 13  –  Got up to get ready for work, feeling really good.   Got in the shower, washed my hair and it started falling out 😥  I ran my fingers through my hair and it came out in big strands, not globs, but big strands.   This completely took my breath away.    I knew it was gonna happen but I couldn’t breathe.    No matter how much you prepare for it, you are never fully prepared and you have no idea until it happens how it’s gonna make you feel.  I broke down in tears, in sobs, in the shower, looking at the hair I was losing in my hands.    Every time I ran my fingers through my hair, more came out.   When I combed it out, hair came out.   I was so heart broke.   I don’t want this to happen.   But I can’t stop it.  In a few days I won’t have any at all.   Help me get through this, I’m just not prepared for this to happen.   Yet I’ve known about it, talked about it, told myself I would be ready for it.   Nah ah,  there is no way to be ready for something like this.   It shattered my heart 😭

 

Oh how I want this to be over. . . . but it is only the beginning

 

 

 

 

 

🎵Pump up the Jam🎶. . oh wait. . It’s ‘Pump up the Veins’

March 16th   –   Chemo Day

Well, the day has arrived.   It’s chemo day.  The start of a regimen that will last me 5 months.    It’s a day I have not been looking forward to but a day I cannot get out of if I want to get cured.   I dread chemo sooo much and I have dreaded it since the day they told me I would need it.   But here I am,  my veins will be pumped with toxins that will kill all those nasty bad cancer cells but will also kill all of the good cells at the same time.   Am I gonna feel like me once that happens?   Am I still gonna be my happy little self or am I gonna be wasted and lethargic?    They keep telling me, “everyone is different”,  so they can’t tell me how this will effect me.   They can only give me a general idea.   Okay, i guess we’ll find out.   So,  into that black tunnel of unknown I go.  

I am met with a nurse and was taken to the back.   I have my posse with me to make it all better.   I have Clara Sue,  and both of my brothers, Jake & Ray.   Let me tell you, having them all there made such a difference.   Cuz to be honest, my feelings were all over the place.  I had no idea what to expect and my mind was just going back n fourth.   We did all the standard procedures –  weigh in, etc.   I am taken to the infusion center,  interestingly, it is set up quite nicely.   I was put all the way back in the corner, which at first, to my dismay, didn’t wanna be there.  Hate being in the corner.   But after a while, I actually liked it quite a bit.   I was put by a window where i could see outside to their back courtyard/garden/patio which is very pretty and found it to be somewhat peaceful.    It has different colored flowers and trees and the birds come to visit.   I loved it there.  I decided this is where I always wanna be, at a window seat to look outside.   The nurse continued on to check my vitals and blood pressure and made the comment, ” your blood pressure is very high, your heart is racey, are you nervous?”

Me,  in my mind,  (well duh),   then out loud,  “yeah I am, this is my first time.”  She didn’t say anything after that.    After all of that, she got me set up with a blanket, pillow, made sure I was comfortable,  told my people where to find all the goodies, snacks,  and left me there til my oncology nurses came to get me all set up.  In the meantime I was trying to get as comfortable as i could cuz soon there was gonna be an onslaught of toxins being shoved through my veins.  I already want this day to be over.  It’s very hard to face the unexpected.   My little man is at school and I can’t wait to go home and see him.  I hate the path my life has taken but you gotta face the cards that are dealt to you.    After a few moments, my oncology nurses show up.   They introduce themselves,  Melissa & Sarah.   They are very nice women and I immediately connected with Sarah.   They come around with their rolling cart that seems to have everything in it and here we go,  tons of questions.  Medications I’m taking, what kind of cancer I have, my age, etc, you name  it, they asked it.   Now it’s time to get down to business 😧   I’m scared!!  I’m just not ready.

 They go over with me all the pre-medications I will need prior to chemotherapy.   This first session will have to be very slow to make sure I am not allergic to anything and that I don’t get sick.  Just the premeds alone will take about an hour to be administered.   They have to access my chest port.  This is where EVERYTHING will be given through.  Prior to coming I need to put a ‘BLOB’ of lidocaine one hour before appt on my chest port and cover with plastic band-aid.  This is to help with pain and discomfort when they access it.

 

 

Chest port  Chest port                            Lidocaine

The picture of my chest port was taken 3 days post port surgery.   Doesn’t look bad at all.   My surgeon did a great job.  When it heals completely, it should hardly be there.  And the incision on my neck, you can barely see it.  So, it’s safe to say that it’s all healing properly.  

Displaying 20170526_174213.jpg

Grapes

   This is Grapes.  Penny gave her to me when I was first diagnosed to lift my spirits and it did.   Look at those eyes.  I fell in love with her.   She will be with me for every infusion, she is my ‘prayer’ monkey.  And she’s even wearing my ‘hope’ cancer bracelet that the cancer center had given to me on my very first visit there.  Yes, she is here with me today.

It’s time to start 😥  Melissa and Sarah are ready to start premeds.  I have to take 3 different medications before I can have chemotherapy.   Decadron, Aloxi and Emend.  Like a said before, this is to help with those nasty side effects, like nausea and vomiting 🤢   

Displaying 20170526_180204.png                     Displaying 20170526_175925.png

 

http://chemocare.com/chemotherapy/drug-info/decadron.aspx,     https://www.drugs.com/aloxi.html,      &     https://www.drugs.com/emend.html

Melissa is gonna be the one to give me my premeds.   My chest port gets cleaned off of the blob of lidocaine I had put on, now it’s time to hook me up 😟  My chest port is accessed.   Ouch, it was a small prick, but it still hurt cuz it’s only been 3 days since I had it put in, so the area is still very tender and sensitive.   I’m hooked up, no turning back now.  Premeds are started and this will take about an hour.  

Displaying 20170316_143147.jpg

All hooked up.  Grapes and I

Premeds went well.  Not so bad.  Now it’s time for the real deal.   Chemotherapy time 😥  Melissa says she’s going to get suited up and she’ll be ready to start.  Suited up for what??   I’m starting with the chemo A/C, this is 2 chemo’s in one, a very intense one.   I hope I do okay with it.  They were explaining to me that in exactly 2 weeks I will start losing my hair and it was advised to cut it short before that time.  I’ve always had long hair.   I’m not ready to lose my hair but I can’t stop that from happening, let alone losing ALL of my hair.  It’ll start slowly falling out then it will come out in globs.    That’s gonna be a real shock, another sucker punch I’m sure.  *sigh*    Melissa comes out suited up practically from head to toe, goggles included.    Geez, what’s really gonna go into my veins??   The drug is brought out as well.  This made my stomach turn just with the packaging it came in.  The ‘caution’ label alone threw my stomach into somersaults. 

Displaying 20170413_125115.jpg

Adriamycin  😫

Yikes!!  Look at what’s in the bag.   This is what came out of it!

Displaying 20170602_214016.png

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a syringe that big. . .  AND there were 2 of them!!  Holy moly!!  This will be administered by Melissa, slowly.   I have officially labeled this one the ‘red devil’.   How proper, since it’s red.  Now this red devil will be entering my body every 2 weeks.   Here we go.   

Displaying 20170316_152654.jpg

I can’t explain the look on my face.   I don’t know if I’m pissed off, in deep, deep thought, scared to all hell or what.   But I can definitely say, it looks like I’ve aged years.   It doesn’t even really look like me.   There goes the red devil, invading my body, twice.  I had it in my head that this was gonna feel like acid entering my body.   That it was gonna hurt and burn as it went in.  Honestly, I didn’t feel a thing, didn’t feel any different and no, it didn’t feel like acid.   What your mind can put you through *sigh* sometimes your mind is a very evil place.   After a while, that first drug was over and done with,  nope, didn’t get any reactions to it, so I guess I did okay with it.  Now for the next one,  Cytoxan,  this will be an IV drip that will probably take about 30 minutes.   I was told that I will get a burning sensation in my nose like if I took a big woof of pepper, then it will go away.   That’s a weird side effect.    Again, it came out in the same hazardous packaging.   ‘CAUTION’

Displaying 20170602_215845.png

Cytoxan

This one didn’t seem as bad as the red devil, it just seemed like I was getting IV fluids, if that were only the case, I’d be much happier.   Anyway it did’t feel like I was getting acid either and sure enough about 20 mins in I got an awful burning in my nasal passage that made me very very tired.   It lasted for the rest of the infusion and I felt like I needed to sleep right then and there.   Finally that was all over and I was unhooked and my chest port was flushed out and bandaged up.   Man alive, I needed the bathroom horribly and I was told not to freak out cuz my urine was gonna be red from the adriamycin for the next couple of days and sure enough, it was.   I was also told not to hold going to the bathroom.  That it would be very dangerous for me to let those toxins sit in my bladder for too long.   So, when I need to go, I NEED to go.   No, dancing around til I find the time.  Gotta let it out.  

I can officially say,  first round of chemo, DONE.   I was told that I did great, I guess so.    3 more of those big boys and that’s all over.   All in all, that all lasted about 4 hours.   It was a long visit.   But they said the next ones won’t be as long.   It’s the first one that always takes so much time.    

As I was gathering my things to get ready to leave, Sarah, one of my oncology nurses came to give me a necklace.   She explained to me that it was from another lady who had been where I was now and she is a breast cancer survivor.   She had left it at the cancer center with instructions to give it to the next woman who was newly diagnosed with breast cancer and that woman ended up being me.  So, Sarah gave it to me and said it was from a cancer survivor.   Oh how that warmed my heart.   Thank you kind lady, it boosted my already down spirits.  I LOVE it!!  My goal is to be where you are.  A survivor 🎗💖

20170616_135332-1.jpg

A gift from a stranger 

I left feeling like a normal person, just very tired and still with the burning sensation going on.   That lasted for another hour and it was all gone.  On the way home I texted my other loved ones that I was done and it went well.     The rest of the night,  I felt as if nothing had happened, until later.   I didn’t feel any different other than having anxiety.    That night it hit an all time high and had a hard time sleeping.  However, I was glad that this day was finally over.   I was glad that I was able to come home and say, 1st round, DONE.  I couldn’t wait to cuddle with my son, I so needed that.   I couldn’t wait for tomorrow, just to put today behind me.  I couldn’t help but anticipate how I was gonna feel.   Will I wake up sicker than a dog, will I wake up feeling okay?    Oh how I couldn’t shut off my mind.   But, I was thankful that everything went well but I sooo wanted today to be over and a new day of sunshine to come my way.    A new day is just around the corner.   I hope I feel like me.  

I couldn’t wait for sleep to just take over. . . . . . . . I hope and pray I feel okay tomorrow. . .

 

 

 

 

Back to class, this time, chemo class 😕

March 15 – Chemo Class

Today I have to attend chemo class.   I guess there is a lot to learn about receiving chemo?  So here I am at the cancer center with MaryBeth ready to learn about all the toxins they will be putting into my veins and all those nasty side effects I’ve heard about over the years from other chemo patients.   My nurse navigator is here to explain it all.

We start off with a whole bunch of stuff she brought out for me to look over.   Several booklets and a bag full of useful stuff I may need. 

First we go over all the symptoms I need to watch out for after receiving chemo:  

  • Fever, chills or sweats that soak the clothes or bed.  Difficulty breathing (shortness of breath) .
  • Severe cough or cough with green, yellow, or bloody mucus
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • If I’ve had little or nothing to eat and drink for 24 hours
    • sores or pain in the mouth that make it hard to eat or drink
  • pain or bleeding

Sores in the mouth?   Ouch,  ( the picture they gave me looks awful and painful)  I hope I don’t get those.

 Image result for chemo sores in mouthImage result for chemo sores in mouth

Side effects to be aware of ( every patient is different and not all experience the same thing)

  • Low blood counts ( white and red)
  • Low blood platelet counts
  • Higher risk for infection or bleeding, Fatigue ( extreme tiredness ), Nausea, Diarrhea
  • Constipation, loss of appetite, pain, nerve changes, changes in your mouth
  • Changes to your hair, skin, and/or nails. ( I’m going to lose my hair,  ALL of it)
  • Anxiety, depression, or other emotional changes.
  • Problems with memory, attention or concentration.   Sex and fertility issues, allergic reactions, blood cots and damage to organs.   

 Sheeesh!!   Sounds miserable!    How does one make it through with all those side effects and this it what I have to look forward too?  For the next several months?   😟

I’m no longer able to take anything containing Ibuprofen.   Tylenol only!!    I can’t use anything that has alcohol in it ( mouthwash, hand sanitizer, etc.).  And. . . .I could even have nerve and muscle damage.   Totally not a walk in the park and I have to endure this just to get better and cancer free?    *sigh*   I guess it’s better than the alternative.  

Here is my treatment regimen:  A/C +  Taxol

Pre-medications:  

 Fosaprepitant (EMEND) 150 mg,    palonosetron (ALOXI) 0.25 mg,   Dexamethasone (DECADRON) 12 mg.   All of these 3 are to help with nausea and vomiting that can be caused by the chemo.   This is to get ahead of the nausea rather than to wait for it to happen.  I guess that’s a good thing.   I don’t wanna be sick.  I hate being sick to my stomach   🤢    These will be given to me prior to chemo. 

Chemotherapy drugs:

Doxorubicin  (ADRIAMYCIN) injection 101.4 mg  +  Cyclophosphamide  (CYTOXAN)  1,015 mg in sodium chloride.

This chemo combination is a very intense and aggressive one.   2 chemo drugs together.   I will be receiving this one for 4 cycles.    Once every other week with a week in between to recoupe.   I start this one tomorrow 😧  yikes!!    It all sounds horrifying but that second drug just sounds creepy,  Cytoxan.   It all sounds toxic to me.  The day after each session of the A/C I will need to come in and get a shot of Neulasta.   What that is is a booster shot for my white blood cells so they don’t go down too low.   This could put me at a very high risk for infection.  It was recommended to start taking Claritin the day of the Neulasta injection.    This is to help with bone pain caused by the injection and should be taken the day of and the next 7 days.   hmmmm,  who would’ve thought that Claritin would help with bone pain?

 After the 4 cycles of A/C are complete then I start taking the next one:    

Paclitaxel  (TAXOL) 131.2 mg 

Supposedly, this is a much lighter chemo and I’ll start this one on May 11 and it will be given to me weekly for the next 12 weeks.     I have a long road ahead of me.  This will take me clear into summer and there is still possibly surgery and radiation.   Yup it’s safe to say my year will be long.   I guess I better not make any plans.  But my goal is to get to July 27th.  If all goes well this day will be my last chemo infusion.   I can do it.  I know I can get there.  July 27th, you are marked on my calendar.    I will see you soon.   I’m sent on my way with tons of chemo information and off to do lab work.  I will need to do lab work before EVERY chemo infusion to make sure my cell count is not too low.   If it ever is,  chemo will be halted until my cell count is up.   I don’t want this to happen, I want to stay on schedule and get to 7/27.  

After chemo drugs:

Dexamethasone  (DECADRON)  in pill form.   I will need to take this for the next 3 days after chemo in the morning and at night to keep nausea at bay.   And I’m also given a prescription of Prochlorperazine (Compazine)  this is a just in case med for nausea as well.    Geez, all these nausea medications,  I hope I’m not spilling my guts out for the next 5 months, that would be horrible!!!!  I can only hope for the best and continue to stay positive.   It is all very intimidating though.   I do my lab work and we’re headed home.  When MaryBeth drops me off, I tell her. . . . . . 

“Tomorrow I start killing that little f***er!!”