Monday, June 22, 2009

Quality Of Life

From August of 2008 to about March of 2009 I was getting a full dosage of Taxotere (Docetaxel) as treatment for my cancer. Well, after so many months of Taxotere, mentally and physically, I was falling apart. My quality of life was pretty sad ... just sat on the couch or laid in bed most of the day. Towards the end, I really had no energy to do much of anything and to be honest, mentally I was so wiped. I could care less about anything because I felt so drugged up from the chemo and meds. My mind felt sedated even though I wasn’t taking any sedatives ... and my body ... well it was so abused. I had put on a lot of weight and was retaining so much water that I had to cut the sides of my socks to allow for my swollen ankles. My hand and foot syndrome was most obvious in my feet with numbing, tingling and burning sensations. The nose bleeds, sinus problems and watery eyes were all getting to pretty bad ... to the point my left ear drum was getting damaged from blowing my nose too much.

Each visit with the oncologist would come with numerous questions about how I’m feeling, how much I can do, what side effects I was experiencing ... and so on. Trying to be the tough girl I minimized the side effects hoping to get as much chemo in me as possible. Well it kind of worked against me because the quality of life was not there and yes I did have thoughts of quitting this whole thing. On the worst days of the cycle, I would ask myself, “How much longer could I take this cancer treatment? “

Well in April of 2009, we dropped the dosage to about 75%. I had a few setbacks including an infection/hospital stay and trouble with my PICC line but I can honestly say I am feeling more alive with each cycle. I’m trying to get some of my physical strength back as I've been litterly sitting for a good 9 months.

Mentally I’m a bit of a different person than I was prior to treatment. I’m more agitated, more easily frustrated and just all around a more moody person. I’m thinking it’s because I’ve been on chemo and steroids for almost a year and the drugs are affecting who I am ... or ... I am really pissed with cancer and the world. I’m hoping it’s the first.

So long story short, the dosage decrease was necessary ... as angry as I was when it happened. I now am losing some weight, showering more often and picking and choosing clothes to wear. On my good days, I’m starting to wear makeup again and looking forward to doing some other stuff.

My quality of life has improved.


CINDY said...

This entry brings back memories of when I was on chemo. I also wanted to give up, but my family and friends kept me going. I am glad to hear your having more good days now.

Elayne said...

Hi Daria~ this is Elayne. We have not met except through our blogs. I am glad to hear you are feeling better and you have raised such a good point about quality of life and also about knowing what is best for ourselves.
This has been a huge lesson I have learned over these past 11 years is that only WE know how our bodies are reacting to either the meds or just the stress.Sometimes just cutting back the dosage, administering it slower ( I receive my Zometa in 30 min. instead of the usual 15)or cutting a drug out altogether may be the best thing we can do for our "quality of Life".
My husband and I also look for those simple moments to enjoy and when things get hard we talk about them, they are called our "happy thought".
Wishing you many Happy thoughts~ Elayne

Arlene said...

Daria, sometimes it's hard to figure out what is best for us. But it seems that cutting back on your dosage has allowed you to enjoy things once again. Sounds like it was a good move.

Thank you once again for sharing with us. I'm sure there are many out there who are feeling the same as you but just don't know how to express it. Now they know that it's okay to do what they need to do for a better quality of life.


Sara Williams said...

I think that there has to be a balance in treatment, you must have some good times to make the bad ones more bearable. I had a bad month between cycles and I was just so depressed. When I went for my last chemo, I didnt know how much more I could take.
You have been through so much more than me so I cant even begin to understand how life has been for you.
Hopefully you will have more fun now, you will enjoy life more. You are a fab person Daria, lyl

WhiteStone said...

It simply amazes me how much chemo patients endure and how they manage to get through the worst of after-effects. I'm cheering you on and pray the days ahead will be full of good moments/hours/days.

Renee said...

Dearest Daria:

You are amazing.

Taxotere is one of the toughest chemos to get through. It is a real bugger on how it plays with your head or at least it did with mine.

The moodiness and the depression for me was from Taxotere.

I wasn't happy about the cancer but the taxotere took it to another level entirely.

You are sounding good my friend.

Do you need more sleeves?

Love Renee xoxo

Anonymous said...

Excellent post - lots of good information. I am glad that you are feeling more energetic, and that you are starting to enjoy things more. That is so important. And...just a is okay to be pissed off at cancer! It is okay to feel angry at the world sometimes. It is more than okay to get those emotions out rather than keep them in!

Hope you are enjoying some sunshine today. Feels weird, not having group Monday aft.

Michelle said...

Maybe that's what its all about Daria....I am starting to think so. Quality versus quantity is such a huge issue, but what's the point if you can't feel it and live it and breath it in and touch it, Of life I mean, but you know that.

Sending you love


Sandy said...

Daria - Glad to hear your are feeling better. Quality versus quantity is just one of the tough decisions a cancer patient must make. Hang in there

Lesa said...

WooHoo to some better quality of life for Daria!! You so deserve it. You have been pumping the chemo into your system for a lonnnng time. Give yourself at least that amount of time to come around. Slowly but surely the turtle wins the race :)

Raden Galoh said...

Oh daria..this entry brought me back down the memory lane... I was there too dear... Almost everything you experienced was what I had endured too... I feel you dear sis.

Hang on tightly. It's okay to feel so moody. The chemo not just whack your body immune everything in us is tortured too... That's taxotere. Be positive that you gonna beat this! I know you do.

Keep your chin up. Good to know you can put on some make up and dress up... I also believe that you would feel good when you see yourself good...

take care and mythoughts are with you.


Roxanne said...

Thank you so much for sharing so honestly. I too down-play the side effects when they ask and for the same reason. It is encouraging to know that the little dosage cut had made a difference for you. You have been on chemo for so long and yet you still go to class and I so admire your strength. I am just praying that each day you will feel a little better!! Blessings, my friend.

Mystique said...

hey I just read your blog. My mom has lung cancer and I have seen how hard it is during chemo and mainly coping with the side effects.. ... our doctor told us there is nothing more she can do, she is just going to have to live with cancer till the end.. there are no more chemos, my mom is getting worse day by day but she is still living it out.. I read some of your posts to her and she loved your quality of life post.. she says she its more important to live a happy life than a longer life. I hope you recover and have a great life

Dee said...

Hi Daria,
HOly cow! To think what you endured that whole time! Really unbelievable. I'm of the opinion that you need to give your doc the straight scoop - don't minimize the effects. You do need to tell him the whole awful truth. Otherwise, how else will the docs and the medical establishment figure out how to make these g*#%d$mn treatments easier on patients?

Also, whatever the root of your anger and moodiness is - whether it's the drugs (very likely) or just being pissed about the cancer, my acupuncturist would say to let it all out. Don't take it like a good soldier. Last June 2008, I had several ways that I dealt with some anger that I'd been harboring for years - not just from cancer but from other things in my life - and I colored a mandala about it (entitled "Slow Burn"), my acupuncturist released it during a treatment one day, my boyfriend gave me a reiki treatment where some was released, and then a broke a bunch of plates that are then part of my mosaic/mandala called "Letting Go". What am I letting go of? Anger. I guess what I'm saying is that whatever the cause is, Chinese medicine would say that allowing the anger to stay in your body allows disease to stay there. They emphasize getting rid of negative emotions. The point is that you have the emotions - and while it's good to find the underlying cause so it doesn't get you again, your first step is to let that crap out of your system.

I said awhile back in my blog or to someone else that I figure cancer can't survive in a happy body or a body that's laughing over boob jokes!!! What did one saggy boob say to the other? If we don't get support soon, people will think we're nuts!

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

I whined about being on Taxol for 8 weeks. I can't imagine being on it as long as you have. You must have incredible strength to have endured this. I am glad you are feeling better on the reduced dose.

Anonymous said...

You're certainly one amazing person, Daria. Take care ya.

Alli said...

I was wondering the same thing the other day on how do we decide when enough is enough? I get so tired of being tired and feeling generally unwell every single day..
But you are hanging on dear friend and if you can so can i!!


Anonymous said...

The part where you said you would min the side effects to doctor, I feel the same way, figure I need all the chemo I need, maybe its not a good idea. So far I have 2 more chemos, ct scan and pet scan in August and September, I will take it from there.
You always amaze me on how strong, determined and how special of a person you are , everybody here loves you and is looking forward to your full recovery. We are all here for you Daria. You a a very special lady, you deserve to be happy and well