Archive | July 2014

Round 6 – 2 more do go…Can you believe it? Celebration time!!!

Time flies…

So, I forgot one thing the night before Chemo day…Ops! I was supposed to take 5 pills of steroids at night and 5 pills in the morning on an empty stomach…Totally forgot!  I finally realized it when I was out walking the dogs in the morning. My mind started going in circles thinking “Idiot! How can you forget that?” Being disappointed in me…What if I have to change the appointment? I rushed home and called the Doctor and admitted I was an idiot and had forgotten my pills. The Doc told me to take the 5 morning pills and come in anyway…And that I wasn’t “an idiot!” Pewh! Funny how it works out sometimes! *smiling*…

Can you believe it …the Doc. was 45 minutes late seeing me….What?!?! (saying this facetiously) When I finally got to see her she was very happy with my results. My red blood cells were up by one point. I’m not in the ‘anemic danger zone anymore’. I don’t need a blood transfusion. Which means the liquid iron (that I’m drinking) WORKS! Wopeiii!!!

I went through all my new side effects…from the new chemo – Taxol – and the good’ol shot Neulasta…

  1. Just slightly nauseous. Did not have to take any pills!
  2. Mouth sores – yes! One or two every time!
  3. NEW -Big round rashes under my armpit…like a circle around it. Very irritated. Fresh aloe from our yard helped.
  4. NEW – The worst of all – BONE pain! By Saturday I could not lay down, or sit down or walk around…the bone pain was too much…I had to take an oxycodone!  It took about 45 minutes before it settled in…and when the pain slowly subsided…OH! How nice! I could relax and sleep…Lala-land! Could not wait until I could take my second pill after 6 hours…of course the pain came back! The weekend continued in the oxyxodone mode…By Tuesday I felt fine and could lay off the painkiller.
  5. NEW – Nose bleed. Like turning on a faucet. Not for very long… Maybe 10 minutes. It happened twice the same day…and then I was out of blood ;o)

I think that was it. My Doctors response was to the last two issues were; the bone pain (which they had warned me about of course) She told me not to wait until the pain got too bad. To take an oxydodone when the pain starts…She said “Be comfortable! You’re body is going through a lot of things, so take the oxycodone and relax. Don’t be in pain when you don’t have to!” (Ok! Mama!)

The nose bleed – I was wondering if it had anything to do with me being anemic…She said “You can get anemic from nose bleeds. But you are already anemic, so this is most likely that your mucous walls, in your nose, are dry from the chemo. The only thing you need is a saline nose spray”

Then, because my wonderful Doctor was late, some one got my chemo chair. My appointment for Chemo was 11.30 a.m. and I got in at 12.45 p.m. I got chair no 4, and I don’t like that chair because the TV doesn’t work…On the other hand – I usually just have the TV on, but don’t really watch it! But IT’S THERE ;o) It’s there, in case I really want to watch “Day’s of our lives” or “Family Feud” (He,he,he…Not!)

Since I forgot to take the steroids the night before“they” had to get back at me somehow…Since the TAXOL could give me a bad allergic reaction, I had to take a couple of Tylenol, and they also added steroids and Benadryl to my IV…Wooosie! I get hungry from the steroids and sleepy from the Benadryl…So basically I’m like a baby…I eat and sleep.

For the last 2 treatments I have started to bring lunch with me. The only thing they have in their little kitchen is yogurt, bagels in plastic, cream cheese, some fruit, and trail mix. That is getting old! I wanted something good if I’m going to spend most of the day there!

So, when I was all hooked up to my port, and everything was dripping into my body, I added food to my belly! A good sandwich, tea, an apple and Marabou chocholate! YUM! Around 2 p.m. I got a visit from a friend (Åsa) who works across the street! Great to see her! But when the Benadryl started working I had a hard time keeping my eyes open! It was a fun visit, but when she left I fell asleep like a baby! When I woke up, after 2 plus hours, the lady who was with the “next door” patient said I slept like an angel! I wonder if I snored? Naaaa… Angels don’t snore!

Brian (husband) texted me around 4.45 p.m. to see if I was ready to be picked up? I saw on the IV monitor I had about 50 min left. Brian showed up after a little while. I had 10 minutes left, then they have to flush, and add heparine to the port…

Long day – Left at 10.00 a.m. and came home around 6 p.m. The dogs were very happy to see us! Don’t worry dog lovers….I had 2 people to come over and to walk and let them out during the day! People they know and love!

Now – I’m on my way to receive the Neulasta shot…So, I wanted to post this before I disappear for a few days!

I have another post almost ready…Stay tuned!

Xoxoxoxoxo!

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BRCA1 and BRCA2

Before I started this Journey…I was oblivious about all the different breast cancers and all the different treatments. Breast cancer was breast cancer kind of!!! I didn’t know!!! No clue!!!

Many people do not understand that there are different kinds of breast cancer (like me…before). Even some women, who have had breast cancer, do not understand the differences between triple-negative breast cancer, and breast cancers that are hormone receptor-positive or HER 2 positive.

Women I meet may have taken a hormone treatment pill for 5 years to protect them from recurrence. These women may not understand that this option does not exist for my type of cancer. Having to explain this is new to me and can at times be frustrating…because I’m learning myself, and I don’t have all the answers…yet…

Fact: Triple Negative breast cancer is harder to treat than other types of breast cancer. Many tripel negative breast cancers are aggressive. It all depends on the size of the tumor and if it has traveled to the lymph nodes in your armpit (which mine had) (common for tripel negative). Here’s where my wonderful Doctors came In, and reassured me that everything was going fine, even though it was a more aggressive cancer…but treatable!!!

Breast Cancer Gene Mutation – BRCA1 and BRCA2

Everyone has a BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene, which we get from our mother and father. When they work properly, these genes prevent the development of cancers. Less than 10% are born with this abnormality (mutation) in BRCA1 and 2. If you’re born with this mutation you are at risk for developing breast, ovarian and other types of cancers. This test is done by a simple blood test…but here in the US not all insurances pay for them and they are expensive. The cost is around $5,000. With my type of cancer (Triple Negative) I was at a higher risk, and for that reason only it was covered! When my doctor suggested this test I said of course “Of course!” not knowing the cost or anything…then I heard from so many people that this was not covered by their insurance and I got a little scared…Come up with an additional $5,000 for this test??? We don’t have a money tree…Working on it though! ;o)

Turns out it was covered and I HAD NO MUTATION DETECTED! The test says they tested over 17,600 base pairs analyzed…Wow! 17,600!!! I hope this explains a little about the BRCA gene?

When I saw my doctor yesterday, before my Chemo treatment, we went through the NEW chemo I was about to receive…called TAXOL. What’s “funny” about this chemotherapy drug is that it’s called a plant alkaloids. Plant alkaloids are made from plants. It’s made from the periwinkle plant. The taxanes (taxol) are made from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree (taxus)…and to break it down even more the antimicrotubule agents are derived from May Apple plant and a portion of this comes from the Asian “Happy Tree” …to make it very simple – this concoction means they attack the cells during various phases of division. All this could be read on a website called www.chemocare.com. Don’t think I know this by heart!  LONG side note!

So, my Doctor went through the new treatment and the new side effects. First of all I had to take 5 steroid pills the night before the treatment and 5 in the morning. This was to prevent any kind of allergic reaction this Taxol-plant (!) could cause.

  1. Low blood count– Yes, I’m anemic! Ugh! A good count level is 12…I have decreased to a level 8… at a level  7 I would need a blood transfusion. I’m trying to avoid that by changing my diet (again). Yes, I have looked it up and I pretty much know what to add to my diet…and lots of love and prayers from all…of course ;o)
  2. Hair loss – Hm! What’s there to lose?
  3. Pain in the joints and muscles – not yet…wait to be seen…felt!
  4. Neuropathy – tingling of the hands and feet. My Doctor was concerned about this one. It could become permanent.
  5. Nausea & vomiting – got good drugs for that. Will not happen!
  6. Mouth sore – Yes – Every time!
  7. Could have a strong allergic reaction from the Taxol.  The nurse, Debbie, injected the Taxol very carefully, through my IV, for 15 min to see if I had a reaction. Luckily I was fine!
  8. And a few other things that are less important…

This blog has maybe been too serious…and scientific…But in a few years I will most likely be happy and proud of myself do have documented this…and think: Did I really go through this? Wow! There is light at the end of the tunnel…I am 60% though my chemo treatment. I have three left. I remember going into my second chemo – I was ready to QUIT!  I was ready to tell my Doctor “I’m done! I don’t want to do this anymore!” But she was my cheerleader and LISTEN to me, and I got through that heavy meaningless feeling… I didn’t ‘sneak out’ the back door, but took charge, and faced my IT…

I hope this will help other people facing cancer. I want them to feel free to contact me. I would welcome them to pick me as their mentor, cheerleader, shoulder to cry on, two ears to listen and one mouth to support them…

Thank you all for reading my blog and thank you for your posts on FB! I’m overwhelmed by your support and LOVE! Absolutely overwhelmed! LOVE YOU BACK!

 

This entry was posted on July 3, 2014. 5 Comments

Processing what to do…

I met with my Oncology Surgeon Monday morning, Dr Blake. She’s a beautiful “power house”. I have done four chemos, and it’s time to switch to another kind of chemo. Dr. Blake who’s going to do my surgery wanted to see me to talk about the surgery and also tell me about my options.

My cancer has shrunk for sure! Even I can tell! A good sign! Celebration! My lymph nodes that was almost as big as a grape size is now smaller than a pea…My breast lump, that I could never feel myself, is also much smaller according to the Doc.

She talked about my surgery and it’s pretty much up to me what to do.

In a way I don’t want it to be up to me…I want the doctor to tell me what to do…That way I can get out of making a decision. I know – That’s pretty lame! Not wanting to deal with it. It’s a big decision…

I do not have to make a decision right away. I can think about it until we see each other again, in late August…Here are my options:

  1. The least invasive is (of course) is the lumpectomy where they only take out the lump in the breast and the lymph nodes under my arm. The Doc don’t know (yet)  if she can save any of my lymph nodes…Remains to be seen…The chances of the cancer coming back is slightly higher.
  2. To do a lumpectomy. Take the right breast and do a reconstructive surgery. They can’t do the reconstructive surgery at the same time (which would have been great…”two birds with one stone”) because the new “saline boob” can’t handle the radiation (which I have to have after the surgery).  Also…this might be very vain…but it’s what going through my head…If I choose this…and let’s say in 20 years from now. My right boob will be perky and young looking, and my left boob will be a small pouch hanging and looking sad…hm…
  3. To do a double mastectomy. Take both breasts. My first reaction was “I don’t want to remove something that is perfectly healthy and good”.  BUT, if it reduces my chances of getting the cancer back – the yes! Then again, I can’t do a reconstructive surgery right away because of the radiation after wards. I most likely have to wait one year to do it…I really don’t want to go through another surgery after all this…It’s really taxing on the body and psyche. And it’s not good for the body to get anesthesia too many times…

I DO realize that I’m lucky to have these options. I’m also scared to make the wrong decision…Many women with breast cancer don’t have a choice. I do.

During this time, until I see Dr. Blake again, I will gather all the questions I have, and weigh the pros and cons. Ask what the chances are of the breast cancer coming back with these different options…Time to reflect.

The date for the surgery is booked for September 11th!

I must say I have “picked” the most memorable dates going through this Journey!

  1. On April 1st – I got diagnosed with Breast Cancer. April fool’s day! (I wish!)
  2.  On May 1st –  I started my Chemotherapy treatment. May Day, Walpurgis (Valborg)
  3.  On 9/11  – I’m having surgery. I don’t think I have to say anything about this date.

Dates I will never forget!

Maybe I should finish up by having my last appointment on Halloween?

;o)

 

 

This entry was posted on July 1, 2014. 8 Comments