Friday, May 22, 2009

I Did My Homework, Now Let's Party

Week 28: Had chemo today (Thurs). Day 1 of Cycle 4. I'm officially over the half-way hump with only 8 infusions and 10 weeks to go! Unfortunately, it took me this long to realize that the drugs I'm being given are dangerous. This is serious business. The nurse was going over the standard questions they ask me every time I go in for treatment when I noticed the warning on her laptop screen that read: HIGH ALERT. HIGHLY TOXIC. Beneath it was my Taxotere dosage listed at 60mg. Alarmed by this, I went home and double checked what I read previously about Taxotere -and then some. I realized that when I did my initial research about chemo, I only checked what the drugs were, how they worked, and what the side effects were. I never checked dosages. The high end of the dosing proposed by the manufacturer is 100mg per infusion followed by three weeks off, and that's when it's the only drug being administered. In comparison, I'm being given 60mg for three weeks with only one week off (plus I'm receiving platinum-based Carboplatin). That's down right scary and I have to question why my treatment is so aggressive. I suspected from the beginning that, although my onco doesn't have a crystal ball and therefore wouldn't admit it, he probably thinks there's a good chance a have cancer cells floating around my body that could metasize elsewhere. While I remain positive, I admit that I have a nagging sense that that's what my future holds. Having cancer a third time would be a harsh reality to face, and it only underscores the concept that one really should try to live life to the fullest. In fact, whatever your lot in life, there are a few things we should all keep in mind. My mother-in-law recently shared this in an email and I think it's befitting of our time here on on earth. Granted, I modified a few words to suit my tastes. Some of you may have read or heard something similar:           "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body; but rather, to skid in sideways with a margarita in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO," what a ride!" Lipservice doesn't count. Get out there! If I can be the lone adult taking beginner springboard diving lessons with a bunch of 6 and 7 year kids (while sporting a bald head that's still sunburned and peeling from my day in the sun on Mother's Day a week prior), I can do anything. And so can you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Week 27: Just wanted to wish all of the moms out there a very special, "Happy Mother's Day." I woke to Stephanie bringing me a pint of strawberries on a tray for "breakfast in bed." It was very sweet and unexpected, especially for a 7-year old, and she did it all on her own. Too bad when she attempted to clean up, the leftover tops fell all over the bed and stained the sheets. I made fun of it and chuckled so she wouldn't feel bad. Spent the rest of my day relaxing and drinking champagne with my mother and sisters and clan. I also roasted in the sun. I do believe this is as burned as I've ever been. I guess the strength of the sun was deceiving given the mild temperature. So I learned my lesson early in the season. From now on, no more hanging out without sunscreen. I'm on my "week off" from chemo now and looking forward to some renewed vigor. Just in time for the springboard diving lessons I'm taking with Stephanie.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Six Months and Counting

Week 26: I can't believe six months have passed since I first watched the news segment about self breast exams and then found what I thought was a lump in my "good" breast. As we all know, it turned out to be nothing. Instead, I had a recurrence of cancer in my other breast that, ironically, would've gone undetected for who knows how long had it not been for the false alarm. Yep; a half a year has gone by and I've been living and breathing cancer on a daily basis. If it wasn't part of my identify before, it certainly is now. There's no denying cancer is my life. The sad part is that I'm not even half-way through my chemo. It will be at least another three months of treatment, and that's provided my body keeps pace and allows me to stay on track. Never mind that it'll be years before I get back to "normal" again. Just when I thought I was on the brink of being back in working order, this comes along.

Back are the days of being tired, sick, and weak. Think of having a hangover every day. Back are the whacked-out hormones, the miserable hot flashes and the cold sweats at night. My thermostat can't regulate itself. Back are the injections of Neupogen and the headaches and bruising that come from them. The nose bleeds continue to plague me although thankfully they seem to be on the decline. My hair has proven itself tenacious but more recently, my eye lashes have started falling out. (It's remarkable how much your eyes water naturally. You only notice when you don't have anything to hold it in.) My oncologist also put me on a prescription for Vitamin D. That's a new one. At least all these side effects keep things interesting. I can't wait to see what's next. On a lighter note, the infusion center was moved to a brand new suite in the hospital. Beautiful space. Everything is clean and new and improved. Even the IV carts are ergonomic. It's on the top floor of the office pavilion. Rather than brag that we're in the ivory tower, I believe I'll just dub it "the chemo tower." Those of us who walk through it's hallowed halls are fortunate. I say fortunate because we're reminded that we shouldn't take life for granted. It's a blessing.