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Well, yesterday marked the half way point for my “big” chemo rounds. I’ve had three and have three more to go. I still go in every week for Herceptin though but those are a breeze in comparison. Yesterday went good though. I had my follow up appointment with Dr. Limentani first. He said everything looked great! He said he couldn’t even really physically feel my tumors at all anymore. We’ll have to do another scan to get the actual measurements but that won’t be until before my surgery in August sometime. Dr. Limentani said if he didn’t know the lumps were there, he’d have a hard time finding them. I can still feel them a little but I have the inside feeling of them too and can sometimes feel the chemo “working” like he said I would, meaning pain at the site of the tumor as it’s shrinking, but it’s not bad and goes away. Basically, the tumors are WAY smaller and softer than they were in the beginning, so that’s very good. It makes me realize how big the really were to begin with though!! And why on earth I was told last year not to worry about them. I mean, they felt like some pretty hard rocks in there.
Anyway, we went into the chemo room after that. They had a lot of patients again. All of the 25 patient seats were full except maybe 2 or 3, and most people had a guest so there were close to 50 people in there again. We noticed a couple new people and some regulars we’ve come to know. They ran my blood counts again first (like they do every week) to check my white blood cells (immune system), red blood cells (bone marrow I think) and blood platelets (clotting mechanism). All mine were fine. If they aren’t, they may opt to postpone treatment a day or so or give you a booster shot of some kind. My white blood cells are usually the ones that get low but by week 3 they are back up, well really probably sooner. The also ran my “chemistry” which checks your liver and other organ counts. I learned this yesterday. They want to make sure all your organs are fine to make sure they’re up for the task of pumping all the chemo chemicals through your system. Everything came back fine for that, as it always has I guess since I never knew (or remembered) they were even checking this.
They started my IV next and ran the steroids and Aloxi first. Aloxi is for nausea and vomiting and stays in your system for 3 days (at least for my dose). The steroid, which I don’t remember getting before but they said I’ve had every time, is meant to help with the other symptoms, like hand numbness, finger tingling, etc. That’s what those ics bins are for too for the Taxotere, the worst chemo drug that I’m on and the one that caused the hair loss. They started with Taxotere first, after the saline drip that followed the steroids and Aloxi. The Taxotere wasn’t very fun, as usual. That one lasts an hour and my finger tips have to be in ice bins the whole time to prevent the finger tingling/numbness and nail damage. My mom tried it this time and said it wasn’t that bad for her but it’s very painful for me for the first 30 minutes or so. It must be worse for me because it’s while the meds are pumping through my bloodstream I guess. Either that, or I’m just a wimp, who knows. The girl who sat next to me though is 36 and was diagnosed right around the time I was (also with no family history). She has invasive ductal carcinoma as well but her tumors aren’t HER2+ or ER+ like mine. We were both getting Taxotere at the same time but her other two drugs were clinical trials and different than my other two (Carboplatin and Herceptin). The HER2+ and ER+ factors make my cancer higher risk but the treatments are better I think because they can target the hormone receptors. I’ve watched part of that movie that just came out in rental stores called “Living Proof”. I think it was originally aired on the Lifetime network but I’m not sure. The movie is about the doctor who invented and developed Herceptin, the targeted therapy drug I’m on for the HER2+ aspect of my cancer. I learned in the movie that before Herceptin, HER2+ cancer patients usually died from their cancer, which was really scary to hear and a real eye opener to how far they’ve come with treatments. Herceptin is now known to be the miracle drug in the breast cancer field. It doesn’t work for everyone but I’m glad it’s working so far for me!
There was another girl on the other side of me in the chemo room whom I’ve seen in there before but we’ve never spoken because she always looked like she was in a lot of pain and not doing well. When mom left to get us lunch, I asked her what her name was and we started talking. I’ve seen her in there at least three times before but she didn’t remember seeing me. It was either my new wig (wiggie #1 in a pony tail and Coach scarf this time), or it was just that she was so sick during her treatments. Anyway, she carries a walker and I found out she had a carcinoid tumor in her leg and had to have her leg amputated in January. How traumatic that would be. She had a great attitude about it though and said it didn’t hurt (at least not now). Her chemo treatments are Monday through Friday, all day every day, with one week on and two off. Just another reminder to be thankful for what we have. She’s thankful her cancer was removed and is being cured. It also reminds me of the quote I saw in the heart echo test room “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone is battling something.” I’ve gotten so many cards and emails from people wishing me well and telling me stories about themselves or their families being touched by breast cancer. It goes to show you how many people are affected by cancer in some way, whether it’s themselves or a loved one, or other troubling things in their lives. But all of these things can be used as learning experiences for ourselves or others. We all need to be thankful for what we have and “enjoy this moment, for this moment is your life”.
Side effects so far…….Today I felt a little tired this morning but I didn’t sleep that good last night. I woke up kind of hot and Simba and Cubbie (our kitties) were hogging the bed and I didn’t want to move them (Cubbie just finally started sleeping with us this week and I didn’t want to boot him out of the bed just yet). My mouth is a little dry again this time but no where near like the first round. I sucked on Popsicles again but was talking to the girl beside me a lot so I didn’t eat as many. By about 2pm, I crashed on the couch. Don’t worry, not literally, just fell asleep and slept until 7pm. I was so tired and just couldn’t keep my eyes open! Now I’m on the computer and soon heading down for dinner and the Gray’s Anatomy season finale. Izzy, one the the main charcters on the show, was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma that’s spread to her brain (in the show, not real life). It’s been an interesting show to watch for me this year. It’s weird how when you’re diagnosed with something, or just what’s going on in your life in general, seems to be all you see on TV or all you think about. I guess it’s like that for everyone though, no matter what you’re going through.