Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First Week After Chemo

A week ago Tuesday, I got a treatment of Docetaxel or more commonly known as Taxotere. For the first 3-4 days, the side effects were manageable. They were probably better than manageable but it was due to the Dexamethasone that gives you a 'kick' in your energy level. Wow, I thought this was pretty good but once the pills ran out, so did the energy level. It was like going off a cliff. I think it was about Saturday night that things started getting a crazy. The temperature outside was running in the 30 -35 Celsius range. Can I tell you, that does not go well with chemo. Anyways some of the symptoms I experienced included; severe headaches, sore scalp, sore finger nail beds where I can't even open a small bottle of water, loss of taste, very itchy white pimples around the nose area, nose bleeds, sore muscles/bones, terrible sleeps, extreme constipation (5 days), fatigue and temperatures that were a bit elevated ... 37.7 Celsius.

I will be much more prepared for next time and feel that it will go better. There was a point at which I was thinking I could not do this again but now that it's over and time has passed, I think I can. I know I will need to look for support along the way. The Cross Cancer has an outstanding Arts and Medicine Program that gets going in September. They offer wonderful support in times of need.

Prior to today, I spent 3 days in pajamas but today the temperature was cooler and I felt well enough to dress up in clothes and step outside. It felt great. Tomorrow, I'm going to the mall to reward myself with a small something. I think I deserve it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chemo Day

Tuesday I had my chemo. Today is Friday. I must say the chemo experience this time was much more manageable that the last time. It was suggested to get a portable DVD player so that I could watch movies during the treatment. What a great piece of advice. The treatment day started with blood work at 9:30 am and chemo at 10:30. Unfortunately, between the blood work and the chemo vein that was required, they ended up poking me about 7 times in total. My veins kept collapsing. Long story short, I got out at 3:30 pm with the knowledge that I will need to get a 'central venous catheter' put in my chest for future treatments. Looks like it is going to require some maintenance on my part and the hospitals. The nurses encouraged me that it isn't too bad.

Regarding the chemo itself, it went really well. I watched 'Class Action' and some of 'The Best of Mr. Bean'. I was giggling towards the end of the treatment, I'm sure everyone thoughts I was 'nuts'. Anyways, I would highly recommend getting a DVD player and watch some movies to take the mind off what is happening.

I will admit there were moments of tears that came forward. How could I be going through this again? It sure makes you contemplate life.

My husband picked me up from the hospital and we went home. I was waiting for the nausea and vomiting to start, but to my surprise it did not come. I followed the drug schedule they prescribed and it went well. I took Ativan to sleep and poof the morning came and once again was surprised by how manageable this was. My experience with chemo 8 years ago was so different. I was vomiting just about every treatment and felt awful.

Fast forward to today ... I eat small portions, try and get lots of fruit and water in to ward off the constipation caused by the drugs. I am feeling fatigued but I just rest regularly. Laying down seems to make a world of difference.

Overall ... I am very happy with how this played out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Treatment ....

Well it is the night before my chemo and I'm feeling anxious. I had a bit of a heavy supper and I'm regretting it because it feels like it is stuck in my belly. I'm feeling a bit nauseous and I have a headache .... too much on my mind and trying to get too much done before I get my chemo.

Tomorrow morning I get the chemo .... Docetaxel or more commonly know as Taxotere. This is given by injection into the vein and takes up to 3 hours. There are a few side affects which include nausea and vomiting and hair loss. For the nausea and vomiting, I have been prescribed Dexamethasome (Decadron), Onodansethron (Zofran), and Metoclopramide (Maxeran) which I actually start taking the Dexamethasome tonight.

With my previous chemo treatment, I didn't have much success with the anti-nausea drugs but this is a different chemo drug and so I am hoping for better results this time.

I am assuming the hair loss will happen just as last time, about 2 weeks after the second treatment. I guess I can enjoy my hair for a bit longer.

My thoughts .... I cannot believe I am going through this again.

As I re-read my post, I see I am feeling a bit sorry for myself. The nerves are getting the best of me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

One Week Ago ....

One week ago today, I was told my cancer had spread to my lungs and my liver. I had expected the worst but not this. I don't think you can ever be really prepared for this news. My first reaction was to let work know I would be going on short term disability immediately. I needed time to absorb the news. Next was telling my husband and family. This was very emotionally draining but it also offer a feeling of relief. It took a weight off my shoulders once I let everyone know.

It is hard to believe its been a week since this all started but a lot has happened. I have been to the Cross Cancer to see a psychologist to help set my thinking straight. They know the 'cancer' lingo like no one else. They know how to give you the facts but also offer some hope. The psychologist and I set out a short-term plan to help me cope with the situation. I need to feel I have some control over the situation.

I've had some tests and more scans and within a couple of days I'll have all the details of my treatment.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Little History

A little history ... July 2000 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was given the full-meal deal, surgery, chemo, radiation, and hormone therapy. Four years later in 2004, I had a re-occurrence where I had surgery and a change in medication. Fast forward to 2008 ... a spot shows up on the annual mammogram which turns out to be metastatic breast cancer. It is still too difficult to discuss the details. I'm hoping that sharing my experience will help me cope with the reality of my illness.