Not wasting any time…

On June 6th I had my first chemotherapy treatment and all went well. You start with some steroids the day before to prepare you for the medicine, it is supposed to help with nausea and the side effects of the chemotherapy drugs. They give you Benadryl and some anti-nausea meds in an IV before they start the Cytoxin followed by Taxotere. All in all, I’m at my oncologist’s office for about 5 hours. The first 3 hours I am very sleepy from the Benadryl, but at the 5 hour mark, I am feeling good. Benadryl is given to prevent an allergic reaction to the chemo drugs (aka poison). The steroids are continued by pill on my treatment day and the day after. These steroids make you feel like you can conquer the world. You are revved up and pretty wide awake even at night when you should be sleeping!

So… now about a day after the steroids wear off, that is when you crash and burn. I feel like my body is filled with lead, its heavy, my fingers and toes and legs are tingling and numb (yes, from one of the chemo drugs). Also on the day after treatment, a new drug called Neulasta is given via a little box about 1 x 2″ that is placed on your stomach and a little needle inserts a small tube. Then, exactly 27 hours later, it releases the medication. This is to boost white blood cells which are always affected by chemo. I actually did not have this 10 years ago and would always get a pretty high fever for a few days. I would stay away from germs as much as possible and hope that I did not catch anything during that time. I did have to take antibiotics once. With Neulasta, my body can now just begin making white blood cells right away and keep the cell count up until next cycle of treatment which comes 3 weeks later. Neulasta has one side effect that is no fun… bone pain. I took lots of Advil to help with that. The next time I will be taking Claritin the day of  my treatment and for a couple days after. This will prevent or lesson the bone pain! who knew? Onc nurse gave me this tip so I’ll run with it. Who knows how allergy medicine helps… it just does.

The worst part for me is always the nausea… and while the steroids helped with that initially, after they wore off I did take my anti-nausea pills for couple days in a row!! I still have a queasy feeling a week later. I do have a good appetite and typically feel better after I eat, of course! One last side effect is that it does something to your mouth, tongue and roof of mouth mainly. It feels a bit numb and just weird. Kinda like when you burn the roof of  your mouth (or tongue) and it is healing… and I couldn’t eat anything salty.

I am now a week out from treatment. Aside from feeling fatigue, nausea, and bone pain, I felt pretty good. All these things did not stop me from enjoying time on the boat, with my family and the pool, at my nieces birthday party, and having lunches and dinners with family and friends. I just needed some nap time in between all the fun!

I survived my first chemo treatment and with the help and support of all my wonderful family and friends who helped in various ways, from bringing me food to keeping Jake busy… I can’t thank everyone enough. Keep checking in on me as it is truly nice to know that I am on your mind and that you are sending good vibes my way. This is all about keeping up a positive mental attitude and you ALL are the strength behind that for me!


10 Years Later…

Just as I began celebrating my 10 year Cancerversary in May, I have learned that I have breast cancer again!!! The first time 10 years ago, at age 39, was unbelievable… this time around I am just in complete shock! After 5 years, I was supposed to be done, no more worries… the chance of it coming back was greatly reduced after that five year mark.

Still, you just never know. So… you go every year for your mammogram, you feel yourself up every month to make sure nothing had popped up unexpectedly. The docs call this a new primary. This is very different from a recurrence apparently. It is not from the cancer that I “beat” before. Hmmm…. they said I just got struck by lightning twice. Well, they said that only AFTER they did the BRCA testing again. Almost certain that they would find that I had the gene… my vials of blood were off to be tested. Surely it will come back positive this time even though 10 years ago it was negative. Testing has improved so much… it is much better now and when I did it 10 years ago it was a brand new test after all! Within a week I learned that I was once again negative for BRCA, which is great news since I will not worry as much about my sister getting breast cancer now. I also can be grateful that my son will not pass a “bad” cancer gene onto his children. Relief, too, that I may not have to worry about ovarian cancer which is also linked to BRCA. Whew…

Well, not so fast… I still have CANCER. WTF! I  have triple negative breast cancer (same as last time) which is the aggressive one that likes to grow and spread fast. I went to 2 different oncologists to see if treatment plan would be the same or similar and they were. My sister came to every appointment starting with two different surgeons, followed by two oncologists and then two plastic surgeons if I choose to reconstruct after a bilateral mastectomy. So, treatment starts immediately, chemotherapy first before surgery this time. They want to see if the chemo cocktail shrinks the tumor, then surgery this time will likely be z bilateral mastectomy followed by reconstruction. Possibly 3 different phases of surgery over 6 to 8 months. That won’t start until the Fall after the chemotherapy, so one step at a time. The surgery sounds easy compared to the chemotherapy. I will be getting different medicine because there is a lifetime maximum for the good one called Adriamycin that I started with 10 years ago… because it causes heart issues if too much is given during a persons lifetime. So this will be a Cytoxin / Taxotere combo given once every 3 weeks for 4 cycles. 12 weeks in all, unless they feel they need to add two more cycles at that time. Docs will monitor how the mass is affected. It is not as large as the first time around. This is 1.7 cm and the last one was over 3cm. So that is a plus as I am hoping that this time, as with last, it did not spread to lymph nodes. I will not know that until surgery when they will remove at least one to take a look. Taking it one step at a time… I’ll post an update soon!