Chemo treatment five

I have been very lazy. I have been reminded – several times – that I am overdue for an update. These also serve as sort of a journal for me, so I’d better write it down before I forget! I know that these go on to a few folks who are slightly behind me in treatment, so the long version may be more than some care to bother with.

Short version: I am feeling good. I am over the hump, with 5 treatments down and only 3 to go. I completed my first Taxol treatment with no allergic reactions. I am experiencing no nausea with this new chemo. I played my first golf in 4 1/2 months. (Surgery didn’t hurt my game, but it didn’t improve it either!) I went to yoga for the first time in 2 1/2 months (and kept up pretty well, though there’s ground to recover in terms of flexibility and stamina).

Long version: I think I last wrote as I finished my second treatment and still had hair. As predicted, it started coming out about 4 days after that treatment. Taking the advice of those who had gone before, I didn’t wait to see what would happen but seized control. I got Mama to help me shave my head (not your usual mother/daughter activity) and went to pick up my new wigs. I wear a wig when out and about most of the time, sometimes substitute a cap (grocery or golf course), and do the bald and beautiful thing at home. For the curious, I have not lost eyebrows or eyelashes or body hair (maybe thinner), though hair that’s been lost or shaved (legs) doesn’t seem to be growing at all.

Cycles 3 and 4 of the AC chemo followed the established pattern. I had a little more nausea in cycle 3, so they boosted my anti-nausea pre-meds in cycle 4 and it settled back to about 5 days.

I managed to work up a bit of anxiety over the start of the Taxol treatments in this last cycle 5. I’d been warned that allergic reactions were possible, ergo the projected 3-hour infusion. I also was faced again with the unknowns regarding which side effects I would experience. It went fine, despite the fact that we were there from 9AM till 3:30PM. 😦 We did the usual check in/sit down and wait/have vitals taken/sit down and wait/have catheter inserted into port and have blood drawn/sit down and wait (for results of blood test). Then a new step – they hung a bag of premeds designed to head off allergic reaction – a combination of decadron, benadryl, and zyrtec (I think). First that combination made me drifty, then it made me literally too antsy to sit still. Talk about Restless Leg Syndrome! The nurse said we’d do the Benadryl orally next time. Since I’ve never had such a reaction to Benadryl before, I’m hoping the slower absorption is the answer. Then they hung the bag of Taxol. I don’t think it took quite 3 hours, but it was close. As the infusion progressed and I exhibited no dramatic reaction, they gradually increased the rate to “maximum” – whatever that is. Jerry was there the whole time, popping out at the right moment to get us some lunch. He read the newspaper from front to back. (San Diego still has one!) I worked crosswords, visited with other patients, people watched, or “drifted.”

I was tired by the long day, but experienced no immediate side effects. Friday, I was surprised to find myself feeling OK. I have had no nausea with Taxol and taken no anti-nausea medicine. Yee haw! I did have a couple of days where everything tasted like sawdust (imagine having to salt pizza!?!), but that seems to have been shortlived. We did the Neulasta shot around 2PM. By late evening, I started feeling symptoms which I relate to the predicted neuropathy. My finger nails were a bit sensitive (as if I’d been wearing polish for a while and took it off, for those who can relate), my hands were kind of tingling or burning, and hot water felt hotter than it really was. And effects I associate with the shot – flushed face and sore throat – were starting by bed time. Other than that, I was still feeling OK. Imagine my surprise when I awoke on Saturday feeling like I’d been hit by a truck! (A friend likens it to feeling like you helped someone pack and move an entire household the day before.) I ached in all kinds of places. I was slow to get out of bed, and the day was made up of crosswords, old movies and TV, and not much else. Luckily, it didn’t last. I awoke on Sunday feeling like I was almost recovered from the truck accident – mostly a feeling of muscle fatigue. I managed some laundry, went with Jerry to see “Duplicity” (good movie), ate lunch out, and then went home to veg. A much better day! Generally those mild neuropathy symptoms subsided about the same time. I have a persistent feeling of needing to put lotion on dry hands (as if I cleaned all day with chemicals and no rubber gloves), my nails still are sensitive when I use them as tools (opening the bag of cat treats), and hot water still feels a bit hotter than I think it really is. My feet never were as sensitive as my hands. I didn’t work Monday, moving slowly around my naps, but was able to work two full days Tuesday and Wednesday, which is better than the AC cycles.

Thursday, I was feeling well enough to try golf for the first time in 4 1/2 months. Jerry and I played 9 holes at a nearby executive course. The good news is that my game has not suffered noticably. The bad news is that it has not improved noticably. 🙂 It was a little tempting to try another 9, but I curbed myself, not wanting to have to pay the price of over doing it the first time out. I’m hoping to play every other week for the remainder of chemo.

And on Saturday, I went to yoga class for the first time since January. I’m still doing physical therapy to find the last few degrees of mobility in the left shoulder, so my Down Dog didn’t look so good, but it felt great to be back on the mat and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring what I could and could not do. Form may have suffered a bit, but there was not much in the latter category. Continuing yoga should complement the physical therapy I’m doing and get me back to 100% ASAP. Yoga should also fall into the every other week category through April. When I finish chemo!!!

The question now is how much cumulative effect I’ll experience in future cycles, and only time will tell. I enjoy feeling good, so hate to see treatment Thursdays approach, but things are going well and the end is in sight. There are only three more!!! I’m supposed to get a break between chemo and radiation, and am planning to take the month of May “off.” I’ll break the news to my oncologist on Thursday. 🙂


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