Archives for posts with tag: Chemotherapy

When you decide to create a personal blog like this, there’s a lot of redundancy and navel gazing. This is of course preferable to nasal grazing, which is somewhat appalling to consider. But what about navel grazing or nasal gazing? I guess the former is rather, er, kinky and/or requires more flexibility than I possess. The latter would result in crossed eyes, or just too much time spent looking in the mirror. Hard to get a clear view of one’s nose without a mirror. Isn’t language wonderful though?

Interesting to note that because chemotherapy wrecks havoc with your fast growing cells, nose linings are impacted (anything soft like your nose, mouth, stomach, etc). For two weeks – once I go off prednisone until my next treatment, my nose runs like crazy, it’s stuffed up and I sneeze constantly. One of the more benign but annoying side effects.

But i digress… so back to the point I was trying to make.

I don’t like the label “cancer survivor”. Just as I don’t like the “war against cancer” or “war” against any other disease, addiction or condition. The fighting metaphor is really lost on me. I don’t like the idea of fighting my body. Have spent enough time fighting it for other reasons (see posts on body image, if I ever finish them). I want to work with my body, not fight bits of it. I guess there is a lot of violence inherent in cancer treatment – lots of killing cells and so forth. But maybe there’s another way to think of it…. maybe replacement, rejuvenation, renovation. Home Improvement. Cell Improvement.

I haven’t had cancer long enough to be a survivor, and well, if I believe my oncologist and gynecologist, most of it, if not all the cancer is gone. My treatment is more or less prophylactic. Sort of. I suppose there are always micro (nano) mets hiding out somewhere. So what am I surviving? I suppose chemotherapy is something to survive. Radiation might be too. But anyway, I’d prefer to be a Person Who Hopes She Formerly Had Cancer. Has a “performer formerly known as Prince” flavor to it. PHSFHC. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue though…. needs work.

On Monday I have my last anthracycline infusion. My last bag of red stuff, and all the other stuff that goes with it. My last 6 day taper off prednisone, anti-nausea drugs and movicol. Movicol is a laxative, btw. I keep looking for a picture of a cow on the box though – mooooo-vi-col. Get it? Ah, I’m in a silly mood today.

I’m also tired. Yesterday I was sort of blah. I think when my counts are really low I’m not at my most optimistic. I suspect my counts bottomed out yesterday and will be coming back up over the weekend. By Monday, they should be back up to where they can tolerate the chemo. It’s great to know that we can recover from these things. Back and forth, the see-saw of chemotherapy. Give and take.

My sister comes on Monday too, for 4 weeks. That will be fun. M goes to the US for about a week, so I’m glad for the company. And it’s definitely spring here. We’ve had gorgeous days, cows out in the field, flowers blooming. With spring comes the pungent smell of manure or whatever they put on the fields. That might be the downside. My eyes are sensitive enough these days…. they do water a bit. But it’s worth it to see the cows run across the field to get their dinner. A cow running is really a sight to behold.

I’ll have more to say about the next chemo, but I have to ask some questions about it……. so maybe next week…..

Looks like spring is coming to Switzerland. We’ve had nice weather for the last few days. The smell of manure permeates the air (we do live next to a farm, after all), and there are lots of chirpy birds outside. It feels springy.

I had my oncology follow up today. I have this organized schedule. The week after chemo, I see my oncologist to talk about how the chemo week went. At the end of the following week, I see my regular doctor to check my counts (and usually they are quite low). Then it’s time to go back for one more of the super-campari-colored prednisone accompanied chemos. I guess I have a break after that while my counts bounce back and then it’s time for my weekly taxols, which aren’t supposed to be so bad. However, I am to spend 2 30 minute periods each day out in “fresh air”. And I think it is a good prescription. Some movement, some sunlight – all good. I’ll even take Lily, who might appreciate the opportunity to chase cats and kick up dirt.

So it was springy, and I decided to wear my wig. My wig is cute but it’s way more stylish than me.. It’s perky matron and short but reminds me of my Orthodox Jewish ancestors in Poland or wherever, and it also reminds me of all the Orthodox Jewish women I see on the JFK-ZRH flight in their wigs. Weird associations. I’m trying to figure out if I look more like a woman with cancer or an Orthodox Jewish matron. What-evah. I do like the color though.

Now I’m getting ready for my sister Eileen (yes, I really do have one) to come – she arrives in 2 weeks, to baby sit me while M goes to the US, but she’s staying for a month and we should have some amusement.

I was thinking of writing with more depth, but the truth is that I’m so tired tonight that I think I’ll snooze instead. Must have beauty sleep. Lily’s already asleep at the bottom of the bed.

So my post chemo cycle is like this. Morning after blah. Next two days really blah as I have prednisone head and water retention, although I stop puffing like a balloon middle of the third day. Then last night I just went to sleep and feel a lot better so far today.

It’s really important to sleep, drink water, eat stuff you like that’s easy. I’ve become enamored of oatmeal with butter and cheese on those days and small bits of dark chocolate. Chicken soup is good too.

My mood feels a lot better too. Part of staying in the moment is recognizing you feel like crap and just letting that feeling persist. Not much you can do otherwise. Just relax, crochet, watch a funny movie but don’t berate yourself for not being happy. The big difference is to let go of the crap moment when it’s gone. Don’t hold on to it. But realize it might come back. It is a weird place to be in.

Today the sun is shining, although we have fog and I have some energy to arrange stuff. Am thankful for that.

And I am half done with this chemo, I handled an increased dose just fine. Many good things.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Mostly because we have had visitors – first M’s brother and then my dear friend Abigail. So it’s fun and the weather has been totally fabulous – bright clear sunshine and gorgeous mountain views.

But anyway, my counts dropped and my hair fell out. Started around my birthday, had it cut to about 1cm all around, and it’s been falling out a lot. In this case a picture is worth a thousand words. So I guess I will post some pics. But I will do that from my computer since it doesn’t seem to work from the iPad.

But the point is that I have a cute wig, although it’s not bad to be bald and I have cute hats.

I had my second chemo today and I am a little hopped up on prednisone, so i think I will post more later.

Today I started chemotherapy. You’d think that I would actually know the names and classes of the drugs that I am receiving, but I don’t at the moment. It’s ok. Next time I’ll write them down from the bags or see if I can read my doctor’s handwriting. It doesn’t really much matter… I’m more a behaviorist. What they give me matters, but the science part is less interesting to me than how it all works together, if that makes any sense at all.

I just have to say that I love Swiss health care so far. So organized. My regular doctor gives me this grid with all my meds and when I take them. And the oncologist gives me an even more detailed grid with specific days of the week and when I take which drug. Maybe they do that in the US too now – I don’t know, but this is a fabulous set up.

At the same time, there’s a bit more autonomy. When I went into the hospital for my lumpectomy, I brought all of my prescription meds, and took them. When I was released, I packed up, the nurse walked me to the elevator and wished me well. No wheelchair. You also walk yourself up to the room, and you walk down to the consultation room to see the doctor. I really like it.

Hmm.. haven’t said anything about the lumpectomy. Well, that went really well. Small scar parallel to the floor under my arm where the lump was removed, and underarm perpendicular where they removed the lymph nodes. The pathology looks good – no evidence of mets or node involvement, tumor was 3cm, so I’m a IIa. But the tumor grade – level of differentiation – and a measure of aggressiveness – is 3, hence the chemo. Bone, liver, lung and abdomen all look clear. So all in all, good prognosis.

Anyway, I had 4 bags of stuff today. Two chemo drugs (cytoxins?) and some antinausea and some prednisone. I think I have a little prednisone buzz at the moment, but no nausea. Just feel a little wired and weird. That will go away, but then I’ll probably become tired and loose my hair. But, I have a really cute wig waiting for me.

Should post more regularly now… this is more or less catch up. Also, I suspect that most of my posts will deal with my medical experiences for a while…. because I don’t see myself cooking much inventive stuff for a bit, and I do seem to have this all consuming schedule of medications and doctor visits. It’s a full time job!