Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chemo vacation

I dutifully showed up for my Onc appointment on Wednesday for my 6th treatment. Honestly, I was not looking forward to it as I still felt run down from my last, but psyched myself up and got ready. To my surprise, Dr Fellin suggested a “chemo vacation”. He gave me the option but steered me toward taking a break from the hard-hitting chemo (taxotere) and just get the antibodies (herceptin and perjecta).  I’d get a break from Zometa as well (every 6 weeks vs. every 3).  He also suggested we wait on the scan, let my body heal and recover and see how it goes. If I got any symptoms back then we’d continue with the regimen (and get scanned).  This way we can see how I do with just the antibodies. He pointed out my labs were all normal (and when my bone mets were active I had high phosphates) and I was not experiencing the symptoms I had before.  Even my echo was normal (EF up to 55-60% which is terrific). He said, spend time with the kids and enjoy- oh it sure is the “little things”. 

So, I only received Herceptin and Perjeta yesterday and boy do I feel terrific today! I agree with him that at this point it’s better to preserve my body and mind. The way I see it I’ll always need some sort of chemo, and as time goes on and the cancer gets smarter and resistant, I’ll need more and more powerful ones. So if I can take a break here and there I should seize the opportunity. So the plan for now is to get hercepton and perjeta every 3 weeks and zometa every 6. Scan if I get symptoms or this regimen stops working.  My hair will stop falling out and the only side effect will be loose stools and occasional diarrhea. I’ll take it! This will be the best vacation I ever had!

On another note, I finally went bra shopping with my new set! I was secretly looking forward to this ever since I had reconstruction last December but was side tracked with all the cancer mets and drama. So off I went to Macy’s…. I did not need forklift support (they pretty much stay up on their own) so I felt like a kid in a candy store- I could literally get ANY type of bra there. I have never-ever in my entire life been able to pick out ANY bra- underwire or none, lace, push-up, demi, strapless, padded, sports ….. they all fit! (And I could even get the cheap ones). I have to admit I had fun.  Again, it sure is the “little things”.

Thanks as always for your love and support,

“Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” – Robert Brault

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

…. Rhinovirus!

I finally have something to update!

So it was taking me a lot longer to “recover” from this last treatment. Usually by 1 week I’m up an about as usual… but this time I was still dragging. In fact I was really dragging, my throat really hurt, and I had bad congestion. I still soldiered on and even pushed through last Saturday that started with dropping Ella off at Bounce U for a Birthday party at 10:00, watching Abbie at her end of season softball event, then watching Tommy’s team win a game toward the minor league championship, spending time with Krista, Brayden and my parents, with the day ending going to a very hot and humid BreastFest fundraiser… oh boy this would exhaust anyone, so when I got home I collapsed on the bed and said I’m done. I had the chills but thought it was ‘cause the air conditioning felt sooo good. But when I took my temp. it read 100.7.


I threw off the blankets and waited 20-30 minutes…



I knew I had to call the on-call Onc as any fever is a bad fever when on chemo, especially as this was day 10 of my chemo cycle where my count was the lowest. The Dr. did not hesitate and off to the ER we went. I could write a whole blog about what we saw (and smelled) at Jefferson’s ER on a Saturday night but basically, after only 6 hours in the ER, I was admitted for neutropenic fever … which is low white blood cell count combined with a fever. I was swabbed, cultured, examined from head to foot, repeated my story and symptoms a million times, all to find the source of this infection. It is a very serious thing to get an infection when you’re neutropenic. I was given IV antibiotics, fluids, medicine for my throat (which turned out to be thrush) and put on precautions (when everyone and anyone has to wear a mask and gown to get into my room). After two days of negative results, they gave me a shot to boost my WBCs (this is typically given after each cycle but since it can cause bone pain, and I was otherwise healthy, my Onc did not prescribe it for the first few cycles). Well it worked- my WBC’s went from 1.1 to 5.2 (normal is >3), and my neutrophils went from 381 to 2862 (normal >1500)! And the results of the virus panel came back that I had Rhinovirus … although this sounds horrific, it’s just the common cold! So I was sent home Tuesday.

I feel so much better. Amazing what a few WBCs can do! So I’m back on course, treatment #6 is next Wednesday. This hospitalization reminded me to center on the positive, be grateful I am tolerating the treatments so well, as many others on the unit were not so fortunate. I will have many ups and downs, and this will not be my last hospitalization, but today I can say I feel terrific. And if you remember- I am just taking all this one day at a time, living in the present, being attentive to the now.

The mind is everything. What you think you become.” - Buddha

Monday, June 2, 2014

The good, the bad and the ugly…

I again struggle with what to write this week as I feel I’m just plugging along with treatment and life. I debated about what you wanted to know, did you want to know all the ugly details of cancer treatment ? Like how I got sick this round (started from both ends (yes at the same time ;( and now just occasional stomach rumbling and diarrhea; how my thrush is acting up again and causing throat ulcers or that I look like a plucked chicken as most of my hair has fallen out? I actually feel that I’m very fortunate that these are the worst of my side effects. It could be a lot worse…. As evident when I called my Onc to relate these side effects, he asked if I could still swallow and eat despite the ulcers? Umm, yes I replied “then no worries about the throat ulcers”. Then he asked, “do you have chills and a fever with the diarrhea?” No, I said and I only had it a couple of times. Although he was sympathetic, he again was not worried and sounded relieved. He prescribed dyflucan again for the thrush, instructed me to take Imodium and call if anything got much worse. The laundry list of possible side effects is unbelievable and I’m very lucky to have minimal reactions.  I feel bad, but really not thaaaat bad.

So maybe I can share a good thing that happened today. Since, I’m not sure the plucked chicken look is in, I wore my wig for the first time to work. I decided to just rock it and not think twice. To my utter surprise, the gas attendant at the Wawa on route 70 actually flirted with me and said, as he handed me back my card, “Don’t ever change your loveliness”, wig and all. Okay, so yes he looked like he just got out of jail, and yes I was driving the van with the kid’s stuff thrown all over, and I did double check the receipt with the pump, but it felt nice that despite I knew that I was wearing my wig, this guy just couldn’t tell! So when you see me, wig-and-all, remember the gas attendant liked it!

I’ll be getting an echo next week to check my heart function and my 6th treatment will be 6/18; with a repeat scan thereafter. I’ll update everyone once I get the results, let’s pray for shrinkage, major shrinkage!

Thanks as always for your support and love.

In memory of Maya Angelou, my two favorite quotes by her:

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them."