Tag: Cancer

Cycles 9, 10, 11. . .

Cycles 9, 10, 11. . .

So, yeah, haven’t been good about keeping up with the blog or a few other things, but I’m on an upswing now, so let’s try to document some of this.

Cycle 9 – started July 6th

I was well into Cycle 9 when I posted about the last cycle, so the the henna pics was from cycle 9. This was the cycle where I stopped taking Oxaliplatin, like the doctor suggested in cycle 8. This makes the whole process a lot easier. It means I don’t get one of the “pre-meds”, cutting 20 mins out of my appointment (benadryl – which makes me sleepy). I only get one main med at my Wed appointment before the poison pack.

It means that the cold sensitivity is gone. I can touch metal now. I can EAT and DRINK cold things. No more room temp sodas and I can have ICE CREAM and my favorite frozen juice pops.

Cycle 10 – Started July 27th

Most of the time, I get a private room for my main treatment day. In fact, for the first 8 cycles, it was always the SAME room. This time, they were really full, so I got put in the common room that has about 6 treatment chairs.

Chandra did a second henna pattern this cycle. The henna we used was from a different source and I think it was bad. It got dark fast, but didn’t act normal and washed off too fast. So Chandra showed off her skills and refreshed it during my treatment. All the nurses and my doctor had to come over to see.

 

The weekend after I had treatment, my roommate’s son came to stay for an overnight trip. He was visiting his aunt in the metro area, so spending a day here was good for both my roommate and his son. I took this pic at breakfast the next morning. It was nice to see Roomie looking so happy.

20160731_074108

The next weekend, I got to see a friend that lives in Reno for a couple of hours. We went to Ettore’s, a local bakery & cafe. Yum!

20160731_191558

Cycle 11 – started Aug 10th

This cycle, my usual oncologist was on vacation, so I saw a different one. She was amazed at my energy and that I was still working. I asked when they’d want to take out the port in my chest and she’s leaving that up to my usual oncologist.

The only major change this cycle is that for the first time, the neuropathy caused by the Oxaliplatin is worse than it was while I was taking the med. I’ve done some research and this isn’t that unusual, but it’s still annoying. This past week, my feet hurt so often, I’ve been going a little crazy.

I had a massage today. My usual massage therapist usually does my feet. Today I told him that I wasn’t sure if a massage would hurt or help my feet. He suggested doing light pressure and letting me decide if he should continue. He was very light, but when he was done, my feet felt better. Not fantastic or normal, but a lot better. So, yay, massage!

And a third Henna Head pattern (you can see the cable of my “poison pack” attached to my port in a couple pics):

I’m letting the hair start to grow back now, so no more henna head. I got a lot of complements on it for the whole time I’ve been doing it, especially my daughter’s lovely artwork!

During this cycle, I found out that the small company I used to work for in various roles for several years went out of business. That’s very sad for all the people that kept working there because they believed in what the company was doing. I feel bad for the founder of the company. She put many years and all her energy into building that business and now it’s gone. 😦

But it also makes it clear that it was right for me to leave. I’m so thankful for having a federal job right now, for the lovely women at the Women Veterans Alliance and Women Vets Connect for encouraging me to apply for something different, and for the people at my current job that have been so supportive.

I went to lunch with a couple of other people that used to work there. The young pregnant woman is normally a very tiny thing, very slender. Seeing her with a belly is just so adorable!

My 12th and LAST chemo treatment is on this coming Wed, August 24th. I really am ready for food to taste NORMAL again.

 

Still here

image

I haven’t had a lot of time or energy to write lately,  but I’m still here,  still chugging along.

It seems every cycle adds a little something to the side effects column.

Just before cycle three,  the doctor asked me if I was experiencing neuropathy yet.  Nope,  hadn’t had that issue,  just the cold sensitivity (which lasts a little longer each cycle).

Guess what happened very soon after I got home that cycle? Yep, the neuropathy hit.  Only lasted a few minutes each time and only for a couple of days,  but again,  this one lasts a little longer each cycle.

Cycle four added “first bite syndrome” which is is own kind of fun – but was milder in cycle 5.

Cycle 5 didn’t see new side effects,  but they lasted longer this time.  I needed to keep taking my nausea meds for well over a week. Earlier cycles,  it was 3-5 days.

Work continues to be amazing and working with me and the time off I need. People have donated leave to me, enough so that if I keep working when I can, I won’t have to worry about missing any pay.

I worry that I may get too sick to work much at all the last couple of cycles, but I’m fighting to keep working as much as I can.

In other news,  my roommate and I moved to a two bedroom apartment in the same complex I’ve lived in for 8 years.

image

image

image

They are renovating the apartments and we got one with all new appliances,  wooden floors in the kitchen,  bathrooms and entry way,  new carpeting,  new countertops, etc. One of the best things,  as far as I’m concerned is that it faces east. The apartment I was in for so long faced west.  In an area where is not uncommon to have several days of 100°+ each summer,  that can make for a very hot apartment and high air conditioning costs. So,  now we get morning sun instead of late afternoon sun and already I can tell how much better that’s going to be this summer.  I’m already sitting out on the porch more than I ever did in the old place.

On moving day,  we had a lot of help that I’m grateful for.  I worked as much as I could,  but by lunch I was wiped out and feeling a bit ill. A guy from my work came with a big truck and a dolly.  My daughter and her boyfriend brought another couple and two more young men to help. It was one of the smoothest moves I’ve ever done. It’s been a couple weeks,  and we’re selling in,  still unpacking,  trying to make things more organized and neater than they were before.

image

Last night, my roommate and I went to military appreciation night at the River Cats (local minor league baseball team). There were other women from the Women Veterans Alliance there, and most of them lead the 7th inning stretch.

image

I’m trying to be social on my non-chemo weekends. I’m not the most social person, but I need to maintain my relationships and stay connected to the world.

Starting chemo

Starting chemo

I started writing this on Wednesday, March 23rd after my first treatment, with the intention of finishing it up an publishing on Thursday or Friday. That didn’t happen. 😛

On Tuesday this week,  I had a port put in my chest.  It goes under the skin,  with a line inside my body going along the jugular vein to sit just above the heart.  Apparently,  this is the most efficient way to get the medication into the body.

When this is done, they put you into a light sedation. I was aware of people talking. I could feel pressure where they were working, but no pain. By bedtime, there was some pain, but some ibuprofen helped.

Wednesday, I had my first treatment. The medication combo I’m taking is known as FOLFOX 6.

One of the medications is oxaliplatin. Apparently a very well known side effect of this is cold sensitivity. I was listening to the nurse talk about this one. She placed a lot of emphasis on it.

Don’t drink or eat anything cold like ice cream. Don’t put ice in your drinks. Use a straw. No chilled drinks. It seemed redundant. Don’t take food out of the freezer without gloves. It seemed excessive, and I was thinking the whole the time, “Yeah, right” and internally rolling my eyes. “Like that’s gonna happen.” I’m normally much more sensitive to heat than cold. I can wear short sleeves or tank tops when other people are bundled up.

Before I left the hospital, I was running my hand along a wooden banister in the hallway. My fingers felt like I’d touched an ice cube long enough to start to burn. WTF? When we got home, I was climbing the stairs to my apartment and couldn’t grip the metal railing. It hurt! The metal doorknobs in my apartment, the flush handle on the toilet. Cold water from the tap to wash my hands. All feel way colder than I know they are, only hours after the first treatment. Holy shit.

So this is gonna suck.

I’ve ordered some cotton gloves and I’m looking through my knitting patterns to see if I can find some cute ones I can make in cotton or linen.

I am carrying the 5-FU medication around until Friday morning, but I’m determined to go to work today. I’m letting my roommate take the car, so if I feel sick, he can come get me. That way, I won’t have to drive if I’m not up to it.

When we got home, I made a grocery list for him, including some cleaning supplies we’d need and stuff. He hasn’t lived with me long, but he’s starting to pick up on my likes and dislikes. He knew I wouldn’t be able to eat the frozen juice pops I’d bought for snacks, so he picked up some mint Milano cookies that I like. 🙂 I thought that was sweet.

Thursday wasn’t a bad day. I carried the pouch, worked, took the nausea medication. Went to bed at a normal time. Slept ok.

And vomited shortly after waking on Friday morning. Luckily, I had the day off already, since I had 2 medical appointments that day. They disconnected the pack. That was quick and easy. But I was tired and nauseous, despite the nausea medication. No food seemed appetizing.

The second procedure was taking a biopsy of my thryoid – a whole other issue.

According to my scale, between Thursday and Sunday, I lost 10 lbs. Only vomited 3 or 4 times, but simply couldn’t touch food and didn’t drink nearly enough water. I’ve gained 5-6 lbs back in the week since.

I managed to work all week, but I am pretty tired.