Chemo days are long. They always start with blood draws from my port (three vials to be exact), vitals taken (I always forget and take a big drink of ice water right before they take my temp), and then a visit with my oncologist, who I adore.
Yesterday marked the first day of my new chemo infusion drug, Taxol. It is supposed to be the kinder and gentler chemo drug as compared to the Red Devil. The actual infusion time is longer. It begins with a drip of Steroids, Benadryl, and Pepcid. Those three are given to help counter any reaction that I may have to Taxol. That infusion drip takes about 30 minutes or so. Then they began the Taxol infusion, which is 3+ hours. It does make for a long day. It also made me very sleepy - I was groggy, I'm sure it was the Benadryl. My friend Suzanne stopped by to sit with me for awhile, but I know I wasn't very good company. Let's just say that my synapses weren't firing on all cylinders, but at least she knows me well! I am thankful for her time and company, and so is Jamie!
What is Taxol? Taxol is an anti-cancer (“antineoplastic” or “cytotoxic”) chemotherapy drug. Taxol is use for the treatment of breast, ovarian, lung, bladder, prostate, melanoma, esophageal, as well as other types of solid tumor cancers. The expected side effects include the usual:
Low blood counts. Your white and red blood cells and platelets may temporarily decrease. This can put you at increased risk of infection, anemia, and/or bleeding. (Oh, goody!)
Hair loss (Ha! It's already gone, but this may finally finish off my eyebrows and eyelashes)
Pain in the joints and muscles (this I have read can either be minor or unbearable – I’ll pray for minor)
Peripheral neuropathy - numbness and tingling of the hands and feet (this will severely cut down on my iPad usage and typing, sniff sniff, what will I do, LOL)
Nausea and vomiting - usually mild (I am hoping for much less nausea, I have been lucky on the vomiting front)
Diarrhea (thank you very very much cancer drug, this one is compliments of Taxol)
Mouth sores (I have kept these at bay during the first treatment, and plan to continue!)
Nail changes, such as discoloration and/or loss (this will be sad, a girl likes to have her nails polished and pretty)
Alas, all of those side effects are temporary and totally manageable. See, look at all the knowledge you are gaining into the world of breast cancer and chemotherapy? Aren't you lucky! In all seriousness, this process has opened my eyes. Prior to my diagnosis, cancer was, well cancer. I really didn’t know much about the differences in types, stages, and treatments – and there are many. I have learned so much.
As Jamie and I are making the trek back home from Atlanta, I can tell you that I feel radically different on Taxol than I did on the Red Devil. I still did not sleep last night. I was up from 2 AM until 5 AM. Chemo infusion days seem to bring me sleepless nights. Last night, as I laid in bed wide awake, I pondered about writing this post, but instead I squandered the time browsing social media and watching YouTube videos on proper wig care. Yes, there are quite a few videos out there on the proper methods for washing and styling faux hair. Who knew? In addition, it is so easy to waste time online. It really is a time-suck. It's frightening.
Today, I have not had any nausea, which is a WIN! I do have a headache, am feeling the fatigue and I am sleepy from not sleeping. I’m hyper aware of bone pain and neuropathy, even though I haven’t experienced it, yet. The “literature” tells us cancer patients to expect it on day 2 or 3. So, I am impatiently waiting to see if it will arrive. Who knows, it may decide I’m not worth the time. Let’s hope that is the case. Either way, I will report back.
As we were leaving Atlanta today, Jamie needed to stop by the SAP office to drop off a loaner laptop. I normally would have sat in the car to wait for him, but I felt like making an “appearance”. It was great to see my colleagues and to make sure they don’t forget about me, as if! (The "as if" was channeling Cher from the movie Clueless, if you were clueless to that reference).
It was the first time that SAP folks have seen me in a few months. I did decide to wear a wig, as I didn’t want to shock anyone with my bald head. I can’t remember who said it (blame it on chemo brain), but someone told me that when they first saw me they did a double-take and thought “how did her hair grow back so fast”. Was that Trey who spoke those words? If not, it sounds like him, LOL! I guess that is a compliment to Marion, a new wig that I was wearing. I will post a pic of Marion. Sadly, no selfies were taken in the office. I saw many faces and got many much-needed hugs. It was fun to disrupt and participate (not really participate, mostly disrupt) in an account planning session with Amy, Trey, Lloyd, and Drew. I have been focused on my cancer fight and recovery, but it was nice to walk the SAP halls even if it was only for a few minutes.
In a few short hours, I will be home again and be able to give my sweet big boy a hug. Oh, that reminds me, I suppose I should provide a quick update on Halloween. Trick or Treating was a success, however temps dropped, and the wind cut right through Mason’s Spiderman costume. He froze! That skin tight costume did not provide a good weather barrier. I did feel well enough to join our friends for dinner after Trick or Treating. It was nice to get out of the house and feel “normal”, even for a little while. It was good to laugh with friends. It is the best medicine.
I will update soon on the goodness and pleasure of Taxol.
Love to you all...