Archive for October, 2012

I’m actually not sure what ‘the home stretch’ literally means, but I feel like with 21 weeks of chemo down, and only three weeks left, that it should constitute the home stretch for me. Somehow four weeks to go seemed like forever, whereas three weeks seems like nothing! Well, maybe not nothing when it’s still cumulative, but doable. And a real end in sight.

Today was not bad at all. It went by really fast and was my first day without steroids or Benadryl before the pepcid and taxol. And no big reaction. I think all of the rest since Friday, including working from home in my pjs on Monday, really helped. I feel so much better. Sure there are aches and pains, but now that I know basically that it’s the taxol, and I’m starting to pace myself more, I think I can handle it. I know I can.


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Why does it constantly surprise me that I am fighting cancer? Why does it take getting sick to slow me down? Why do I insist on trying to be normal and keep up with everyone else and pretend nothing is wrong? Why can’t I remember that I am bald? Yes, those are all rhetorical questions – I don’t expect anyone to answer them. I just get mad at myself and mad at the whole situation. I am mad.

When I returned to work Thursday following the port, I was asked “does it hurt?” Yes, I replied, but it’s not much different from every day – something always hurts. I’m used to something constantly hurting, whether it’s my arm, my boobs, my fingernails, my feet, my mouth, whatever – at least they usually take turns and don’t all hurt at once. I ignore it and plow through.

But yesterday I started feeling… different. It was really strange how it washed over me and suddenly I was concerned. I’ve been congested and blowing my slightly bloody nose day and night that I’ve gotten used to the constant sight of blood (sorry for those that this grosses out – but it’s reality). When I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago, my doctor told me not to worry about it, but I wondered if it was at all connected to how I am now feeling. Each time I take a deep breath, my chest, back and back of my neck get really tight, and my head feels… full, I guess, too. And if I bend down, my head feels like it might explode. Add that to how tired I am and how just walking to my car makes me winded, I figured something could be wrong.

So I spent much of today back at Dana-Farber. Blood clot? Pneumonia? An EKG, CT Scan and a bunch of blood work later and the prognosis is basically that I have a viral infection and that the build up of the taxol is catching up to me, and that I need to slow down. Basically, a reality slap of I’m not invincible. That I am being poisoned each week and it is a cumulative drug and it’s going to keep getting worse for four more weeks and I better slow down or I’ll only make it worse. I better wake up and realize that I can’t just ignore the fact that I am fighting cancer.

So I canceled all my weekend plans. Rest and Robituson. Those are the doctor’s orders. And even though I’m mad at the whole situation (being sick, cancer in general, and missing dinner with a friend tonight, my eldest Goddaughter’s birthday party tomorrow, book club Sat night, etc. ), I will follow them. Both because I feel horrible and don’t want to move from my couch anyway, but also because I am not ready to sacrifice work or the CMAs and I want to be ready for both next week. So I will sleep the weekend away and hopefully build up enough energy to pick the pace back up again on Monday…

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Chemo week eight wasn’t fun, but the infusion was the least of it. Honestly, I probably shouldn’t be posting right now because I am on painkillers and they say I’m not supposed to ‘drive, operate heavy machinery or make important decisions.’ I think that basically means you’re not in your right mind – and I do know that is true, and figure you probably shouldn’t write things for all the world to see when you’re like that, either. Oh well – I am anyway because I feel guilty not – so many people have been checking in on me because they haven’t seen a post yet and I feel bad having anyone worrying about me… instead you get to read my rambling! That said, I’m going to keep this brief, so I don’t say anything I’ll regret in the morning.

Tuesday (was it really only yesterday?) started at 5:30 in the morning, rousing mom and Nick so we could get to Brigham and Women’s Hospital and I could be the first in for the port. Long story short, I was dozing on the operating room table when I was woken and asked if it was ok for them to put the port in my arm rather than my chest as they were concerned about the placement of the tissue expanders. Since the last thing I want is one of those popped (I have a friend with implants and one has deflated – not fun), I said of course. Whatever they deemed best.

The next time I woke up we were done and I was in recovery with mom and Tina. I don’t remember much except that all was fine with the world (yes, I was heavily medicated), I got dressed and they wheeled me on over to Dana-Farber for the infusion. They used the port for both taking blood to do my labs and the infusion, so it was already paying off – no routing around my poor veins any more. The redness around the port was definitely growing, though, and the nurse drew a circle on the clear bandage, saying if the red spread outside the circle to come back.

Home we went and as the evening went on and the meds wore off, the pain increased… and this morning the red was well beyond the circle and felt much worse than the ‘slight discomfort and tender’ that the discharge papers said I’d feel – I couldn’t even put my arm down at my side! I called and it was back to the hospital for us…

Luckily it isn’t the type of red they’re concerned with: the doctor said, in fact, that most of my upper arm will turn red and then black and blue (note to self: may want a dress with sleeves for CMAs), and that it is only ‘infection red’ (didn’t realize it was its own special shade) and warm to the touch that they worry about. He also said it should be better by next Tuesday for the next infusion, and it’s not so bad for most because they can take Tylenol or ibuprofen. I can’t because of my liver, so he said to stick with the painkiller I was prescribed – but I can’t take that and go to work. So I get the choice of comfort at home or pain at work – great.

So for the rest of today I chose rest, and tomorrow it will be back to work, and I’ll grin and bear it. I hate to say it, but I am getting so used to hurting that I don’t really care. I don’t think there’s been a day since the surgery in April that something on my body hasn’t hurt, and the aches increase every day. I am holding out hope that it all really does subside shortly after the last treatment.

Overall, though, I am just thankful that it hasn’t been worse. That I can still get up and out of bed every day. That I can still work. That for the most part – other than the aches and pains and cringing every time I look in the mirror and see my mostly bald head  and the weight I’ve gained – I’ve been able to maintain relative normalcy in my life throughout all this. And that I will live and, as so many keep reminding me, someday this will just be a chapter in my life rather than the main storyline…

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