Monday, October 31, 2011

Thanks Dear People!

This is long overdue heartfelt thanks to all my dear friends and family for all the love and support I have been receiving while undergoing my fight with breast cancer.  You will never know how much I appreciate all the many, many sweet get-well cards, prayers, words of encouragement, errands to the grocery store & pharmacy, chocolate shake dropped by my house, gifts that smell good, gifts that taste good, fun lunches, the beautiful prayer shawl, pajamas, books, restaurant gift cards, flowers, visits, uplifting facebook messages, caring texts, phone calls (I love to your your voices!!), emails, and taking me or meeting me at doctor appointments!  Thanks to Andrea, Monica's super talented hair stylist, for offering to trim my wig in which she did a beautiful job! Andrea is a jewel!  Also, thanks to my kind yard man who only trips my jasmine bed once a month ~ because he noticed my front patio was not swept off from the huge collection of pine needles & did it for me!  (My neighbors know I am OCD about sweeping off my front patio, but just couldn't muster up the energy the last couple of weeks!)  Plus all the other things I have forgotten momentarily because I can now claim to have "chemo brain".  You can never know how much this means to me.  It is what is getting me through it! 

Thank you all for your compassion, your kindness, and your generosity of spirit.  You continue to give me the courage, determination, strength, and hope to win this battle!  I thank God for each and every one of you!

Scarf Mania

Head Scarf 101:

I went to youtube to learn how to tie scarves onto my bald head - thanks to all  the contributors!  Scarves are so much cooler on the head than wigs - but I'm sure this winter I'll  enjoy the  warmth of  the wigs.  Anyway, to have variety into my headgear wardrobe, I spent all day Sunday watching youtube videos & practicing on myself with how to tie scarves.  I took pics from my cell phone of myself - so the quality is not that good, but at least you can tell what to expect it you should run into me wearing a scarf.

Next I'll be learning how to "fix" my wigs & will post pics of those next.  All this just in time for Halloween!  Trick or Treat!!

PS:  I never wore scarves.  I preferred wigs.  But, I'll leave this up to show the various ways to tie them.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chemo Treatment #1

I had my first chemo treatment on Oct. 11.  Sorry it's been a while since I've blogged about the treatment and the side effects.  My daughter borrowed my laptop at first, then my charger plug broke & I had to order a new one.  Then, I've just felt too yucky to think about it.  But - here goes.  I have a journal & I'll start from day #1 & fill in until now to chronicle the journey.  I'm not giving the gory details (JOKING!) to ask for sympathy or to complaim - just reporting the facts, m'am.

The first thing you do when you go in to get chemo, is get a blood test to determine your white blood cell count, red blood cell count, & platelet count.  If these are ever too low, treatment may be postponed a week to allow the bone marrow to recover so the chemo doesn't kill you - kidding!   Well, almost kill you.  ; )

So, here I am in my recliner infusion chair, with my warmed blanket, & my prayer shawl around my shoulders.  Let's go!

My first infusion was with docetaxel (taxotere).  It takes one hour for this drug to be dispensed into your body.  One of the side effects is numbing/tingling in the hands and feet, so they put your fingertips & feet on ice for this infusion.
Feet on ice

Fingertips on ice

The next infusion was for the cyclophosphamide (cytoxan).  This only took 30 minutes.  Here are 2 of my daughters who were "mommy-sitting" me, Monica and Melissa:

Well, let me say there were no side effects during "C" day.  Yippee!  BUT, they told me that I had to return the next day to get a neulasta injection - and I think this is the drug that did a bad number on me - but I guess it's hard to tell exactly.  Anyway, I got the injection Wednesday afternoon, and woke up Thursday morning feeling awful!!!  This may be too much information, but remember this is chronicle of the facts.  For one, I had the worse headache of my life!  I also had a horrible back ache.  They said this would be from the neulasta telling my bone marrow to make blood cells & this hurts!  I also had bad diahrrea!  At this time I didn't experience nausea because I was taking the nausea pills round the clock before the nausea crept up on me.  Needless to say, I started taking the hydrocodone as the nurse instructed me to do when it all hit.  This continued for 6 days, then I started feeling better - just very fatigued.  Which brings me to today - I think I'm through with the bad side effects and should have one more week of feeling okay before Chemo #2 is administered on Nov. 1.  Geesh!

Oh, a side note, my hair started falling out big time yesterday!  I need to get my daughter's clippers & go ahead & buzz it off asap!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chemo Starts Next Week!

I saw wonderful  Dr. Haley today, my oncologist.  All tests results were good!  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!  No metastasis was shown in any of my x-rays or Ct scans!  Heart and lung function are good!  My score on the Oncotype test was in the low range - meaning a low chance of recurrence!  This was all done by extracting DNA from my cells - wow!  The three possible ranges are low, intermediate, and high.  So, I feel very blessed that my ole' body is in such good condition!!!

Chemotherapy will start next week.  I will receive 4 chemotherapy treatments spaced 3 weeks apart - so this will end the middle of December.  She said I won't start losing my hair until the second treatment.  So, by Thanksgiving I should be a bald turkey!  Don't worry I have 2 cute wigs!  My daughter, Monica, will be taking me to the first appointment next week.  We are trying to see if they can take me on Tuesday.  Still waiting to hear back on that.  Dr. Haley said the treatments will last about 2 hours each - not bad!

They gave me  a tour of the chemotherapy treatment room.  The room is private with a recliner for the patient and 2 chairs for possible friends or family.  There is a large flat screen TV mounted on the wall with a DVD player!  They also have a library of DVDs you can use.  There is a sink in each treatment room.  Wifi is available and a land line phone in each room just in case you need it.  There is a snack bar with drinks, etc., and a refrigerator if you bring your lunch.  There is also a cafeteria upstairs - with blue plate specials, pizza, salads, soups, sandwiches, cookies, pastries, beverages, and a coffee bar!  And, of course, there is valet parking at this facility!

Now to the nitty gritty.  She said because of my good test results, I will NOT have to take the chemo drug nicknamed "The Red Devil" - woohoo!  This is what I will be given during the chemo infusion:

Docetaxel (Taxotere is trade name):
This drug is a mitotic inhibitor, stopping the growth of cancer cells and causing them to die. 

Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar, CTS - trade names):
This drug is an alkylating agent, helping stop cancer cells from growing, causing them to die.

Both of these chemotherapy drugs have the following side effects: decreased white blood cell count with increased risk of infection; hair loss; nausea; loss of appetite; rash; numbness/tingling in hands/or feet; tiredness; muscle aches.

Dr. Haley has called in several prescriptions to my pharmacy to ward off the nausea, etc.  She said the nausea usually only lasts a couple of days after the treatment.  She also said I do not have to be a hermit and stay home - but not to be around people who have a cold or virus. 

So the way I see it, chemotherapy should end mid-December.  I will get 3-4 weeks off, then radiation will begin about the second week in January and last 6 1/2 weeks, which takes me to sometime in February.  After that, I can think about the reconstruction, which also involves a tummy-tuck!  Woohoo!  (I got all these possible dates wrong when I first posted this, these are the corrected time projections after looking at a calendar.)

I think there is a beach somewhere calling my name next summer!!!!!