Today (Thursday) was chemo day. Number 6 of 8, and number 2 of 4 of the second series. The first four were Adriamycin and Cytoxan mixed (A/C), the last four are Taxol.
Session 1 was much harder on me than numbers 2-4 of the A/C. I assume because it was such a shock to my system and that 2-4 were a little easier on me because I was more used to it and had some residually in my system after the first one.
#5 (last time) was the first of the second type. It was a doozy, too, so I’m hoping the same principle applies and that 6-8 are a little easier. But you never can tell.
One session I also had a common cold – which was horrible and involved an overnight ER visit! One session I slept the whole thing through, which was nice. And last session I had a reaction during treatment, had to stay MUCH longer than I’d hoped – ALL DAY ’til 530 pm – and ended up needing a blood transfusion on Friday, which also kept me all day ’til dinner at the hospital. It’s hard to tell.
I do know that my numbers are up some which is good. And that the doctors willing to adjust my meds to help me not have such a hard time this time. Chemotherapy kills your fast-reproducing cells, which includes the cancer cells, but also includes (among many others) the red and white blood cells and platelets produced in your bone marrow. That means you are super fatigued, dizzy/lightheaded, bleed easily and uncontrollably, and are immune-compromised (hence the terrible cold).
One thing they do to help with this is give me a follow up “booster” shot the day after which I’ll get tomorrow. It’s called Neulasta and it basically stimulates the bone marrow to make more platelets and red and white bold cells. The bad part is that it’s extremely painful to have that going on in your bones, especially in your joints.
Coupled with the Taxol which is also notoriously painful to the bones and joints, it was almost unbearable for me last time. It literally feels as though I’m getting stabbed in my bones in my lower back, hips and shoulders, a quick and acute pain that comes and goes in waves and basically causes me to writhe until it passes. It sucks. Chemo sucks.
Since I had a blood transfusion last time, my white and red blood cell counts are actually up! So the doc lowered my Neulasta shot dose from 6mg to 4mg. Woo hoo! Hopefully the pain is at least 30% less as well! I’ll let you know tomorrow when I find out. 🙂
Taxol also has some other side effects which have made it less fun than the A/C (Adriamycin/Cytoxan). For one, I am constantly breaking out in full body sweats. Then I’m freezing. My thermostats a wreck.
I also have gone 180 degrees in that with the A/C I had diarrhea for 8 weeks straight, I’m now dealing with excruciating constipation. Another internal system completely on the fritz. The good thing here is I can try to control this with diet.
Another good tidbit is that the nausea is not nearly as bad with the taxol as with the a/c. And so far my taste buds have been hanging strong. I love to enjoy good food and I’d be heartbroken if my palate was screwed up the way I hear others describe. If I couldn’t eat anything I would be so frustrated. But maybe I’d lose a few pounds. Instead I’m gaining weight which I actually hear is very common despite the stereotypes. I guess from eating comfort foods (like lots of plain noodles w butter and parmesan – yum!) and not exercising at all. I never thought I’d hear myself say this but I can’t wait to get back into the gym.
What else? Insomnia. Tingling hands and feet. My whole body’s skin will peel and shed in about 2 days. Headaches. Insomnia. Blurry vision. Exhaustion/fatigue like I’ve never known. Like I have to pause when I climb stairs. It burns out my muscles to lift my arms above my head. If I drop something I need someone else to pick it up. Headaches. Sweats.
But the bone pain is by far the worst.
Of course this is only on the bad week. After a week I’m getting back to normal. Still exhausted but everything else starts to get under control, and I am thankful for that.
I just want to say again how very very thankful I am to have a great group of friends and community in general who continue to prepare us meals, drive me to appointments and care for our children. And also just flood us with kind words and encouragement, week after week! It’s a long long haul and I couldn’t possibly do it without all of you. Thank you!! From my whole family, thank you!