Posted by: annnorris | January 28, 2013

New Round of Chemotherapy Begins

(As usual, this is your warning that there may be things discussed here that are gross. Don’t read if you have a weak stomach.)

Photo on 1-28-13 at 4.31 PM

Today I had my 6th chemotherapy treatment out of 8. I am happy, happy, happy. (Love me some Phil Robertson) Three weeks ago, I started a new chemotherapy drug called Taxotere. This is another nasty drug approved to treat breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, advanced stomach cancer, head and neck cancer and metastatic prostate cancer. It is also being researched for treatment of small cell lung, ovarian, bladder, and pancreatic cancer. (Facts here come from http://www.chemocare.comchemotherapy.drug-info/Taxotere.aspx) Some of the side effects are low white blood cell counts and low red blood cell counts, fluid retention, peripheral neuropathy (numbness in toes and fingers), Nausea, diarrhea, mouth sores, hair loss (eyebrows and eyelashes included), fatigue and weakness, infection, nail changes (your nails can actually fall off! WTH?), vomiting, muscle/bone/joint pain, low platelet counts, and liver blood tests results may be increaed. That’s the professional/medical side of what could happen.

Now let me tell you my experience from the first treatment of Taxotere, three weeks ago. I woke up Monday morning and took an anti anxiety pill because I tend to get upset about the situation when I am waiting in the doctor’s exam room. I did well and no breakdowns. Dr. Wilder came in as usual, we chit chat about how things are going and she does a short exam to make sure I am healthy enough for the chemotherapy. I get cleared, and go into the treatment room. Lucky for me, Pat Harris, a parent of a friend of Hailey’s, is my nurse. Its nice to know someone on a personal level, less stress I suppose. She hooks me up to my pre-meds consisting of benedryl, a steriod, and an anti-nausea med. Afterwards, I get the Taxotere. And,  in less than two hours, I am finished and ready to go eat! (I love the Chik-Fil-A and Blue Coast Burrito are over in that area). Then home.

The first day went fairly well. I felt normal. I spent a few hours working, then did some house chores. Went to bed at a normal time. Slept like a baby…all the way until 11 a.m.!!!! I only got up because I felt like I should. I took my morning meds, made a bowl of cereal and relaxed on the couch. Then, it began to hit me. Every single cell in body started to ache and movement was labored. I took some pain meds for this and it helped to contain the pain down to a liveable level. I was soooo happy that dinner was brought to me the night before. There was no way I could have cooked anything. The next four days are just like this. I couldn’t do a thing but lay around.

Around Sunday, I thought I was starting to feel better – I was mistaken! (skip this is you get queasy easily) I noticed that when I went to the bathroom, my urine was red. This freaked me out. I called Dr. Wilder. She was slightly concerned and told to call if it keeps up or go to the ER. A few minutes later, I remembered that I had eaten some red jello beforehand. I am pretty sure this is the cause. After a few hours, I had another bite of red jello and my urine was red again! I called Dr. Wilder’s nurse this time. She assured me that red jello will not show up in urine (Mary, my own personal nurse who does not bill me, also confirmed that jello couldn’t be the cause). I am ok for a little while, then it started to hit me. I had terrible diarrhea. And, there were bright red blood clots in it. I’m worried again. Again, diarrhea and blood. And, again diarrhea and blood so evident that you could smell the irony odor of the blood. I am not well at all. I call Dr. Wilder again and after some back and forth talk, she orders me some steroid suppositories to use over the next few days. (I was doubly worried because my WBCs, and platelets were low.) Dr. Wilder scheduled me to see a G.I. doctor the next week. However, and thankfully, the steroids worked, meaning it was probably just a hemorrhoid breaking open.

The rest of the week, I was still weak, able to get up a little bit and walk around, but that was about it. I did get progressively stronger each day. Looking back on this first experience, I am so glad that the Taxotere is no where near as awful as the Adriamycin and Cytoxan. That is such a blessing. Today, I was sitting next to a lady who started with the Taxotere and was getting her first round of the adriamycin/cytoxan. I gave her my tricks about lemonade, spicy food and Werther’s Orginals, oh, and also to start your phenergan immediately and use it around the clock for the first day and a half. I hope she does well. I did notice she had lost eyebrows.

Right now, I have an extremely poor body image. I am gaining weight, partly from steroids and party from Sonic Blasts, Wendys Frosty’s, Coke. Of course, my hair is just a funky Pinhead from Hellraiser looking mess. I originally thought I would lose all my hair, have a beautiful head and Tracie Durham, mom/attorney/artist extraordinaire, henna tatoo the top of my head with a spiraling Bible verse. Well, my head is not pretty. Mary asked if I head a “brain head”, and I do. Its just bumpy everywhere – weird. Also, I have a lot of dark little hairs that aren’t falling out, and some white hairs that are actually growing, but sparingly. PinHead – that’s me! And, continuing on with the body image, I am going to be so distraught to lose my eyebrows and eyelashes. I have noticed that I only have little tiny lashes right now, but mascara still hangs on to them – can I get an AMEN! And, I still have my brows. (I have an eyebrow pencil and fake lashes ready) I do have a cute wig, but its not comfortable. I have hats, but they are mostly too hot for my head. So I have a couple of funking bandanas that I wear often. And, to think things are only going to get even worse when I start the mastectomy and reconstruction! Its hard to be a woman, to feel sexy or attractive when your body is going through so much. Thank You God, I have a husband who still thinks I am cute. He teased me about a guy at Oaklawn trying to pick me up. I would have been flattered had the guy not been completely beer blasted!

Small things mean so much to me these days. My sister asked me to dinner one night and we had a blast stalking my Jake and his entourage at Park Plaza. Mary brought me a picture that’s all sunshiney and 1 John 4:7 written on it. Cara Stinnett not only made me a yummy dinner one night, but then floated in on her angel wings bringing me a Taco Bell Taco Salad! Deborah Mayfield gave me a beautiful Avon Pink Breast Cancer bracelet (my aunt-in-law Mary Higbee also sent me a beautiful bracelet). I am blessed and fortunate.

So, I am starting round 2 this week. Please keep me in your prayers over the next week and a half. I am on the down swing of the chemo treatments! and possibly 5 months away from a beach getaway with my man!

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