Chemo #7 went as scheduled yesterday, though nothing just happens easily with this, it seems. My #s were fine, thanks to the neulasta I guess. This will be the last time I take that--next time we will just let my blood counts tank and hopefully I will not get an infection or fever. Again, I don't know how the lack of neulasta will affect my radiation schedule--we just need to wait and see.
Taxol #3 came with allergic reaction #2. Gabe was with me this time, and he saw me turning red as I got hot; I also got immediately stuffed up. The taxol was turned off and I was given a small amount of steroid; waited the requisite half an hour and started it up again. I seemed to do ok for the rest of the infusion. Yesterday I felt pretty good, and was up all night again due to the steroid.
Incidentally, my hot flashes seemed to be better last night. I had several that woke me up, but they weren't every half an hour. I'm hoping the acupuncture I did on Friday, combined with the free acupuncture I got during chemo (we have never brought a camera to chemo but that would have been a great shot--needles all over me, ivs, tomato face) are going to help with that. I may turn into a new-ager after all.
Today, I felt pretty good in the early part of the morning. But then I started feeling short of breath again, heart pounding, stuffed up, and my face was really flushed. In fact, the left side was much more flushed, and I had a temperature 2 degrees higher on that ear than the other. I emailed the chemo nurse and she agreed I should take some benadryl. I think they finally believe me that I'm having allergic reactions. They even seem concerned about my shortness of breath, though yesterday there was this long discussion about whether I was just having an anxiety attack before when I went to the hospital. Sure, I was pretty anxious about eating those pancakes. It wouldn't have anything to do with the poison in my body. Sigh.
The benadryl helped with the flushing and the stuffiness, but this shortness of breath is scary. I thought it could be neulasta--respiratory distress and fast heart rate are rare complications. But I'm told it's probably the taxol and I should take some zyrtec or claritin. My house has become a depository for over the counter drugs. It is really ridiculous, especially since most of them haven't done a damn thing for me.
I'll try the zyrtec once the rest of the family is in bed since I don't want to be knocked out yet. We're having quite a time here--Lenny's had stomach flu again and Gabe seems to be catching it. Lenny got sick at a birthday party on Saturday and aside from taking a 3 hour nap on Sunday, was fine until last night. She woke up throwing up, and doesn't remember it happening at all, even though it was pretty violent. Somehow Gabe went to work and my mom helped with Lenny today--I needed to avoid her, and I was also pooped and feeling weird. She seems ok, but this is another reason we need chemo to be over--flu season with two little kids in daycare is no time to be so immunity-compromised. To the ladies who plan to visit me tomorrow, I think it's fine--Lenny seems to feel ok now. If people are still sick, I will obviously not want to subject anyone else to that madness!
Earlier today I posted an article on facebook from the Chicago Tribune about breast cancer awareness month. It's a little harrowing--I won't go through the whole thing, but one of the things about breast cancer awareness that is so troubling is that it doesn't seem to have led to huge gains for people who actually have breast cancer, at least not proportionate to the advertising. And I really am sick of seeing the fried chicken buckets and wine bottles with pink ribbons, when being overweight and consuming alcohol are two top risk factors for breast cancer. Why can't corporations just make a contribution to a cause, regardless of how many of their products consumers buy? I mean, a quarter donated for every bra bought? A dime for every pink garden implement?
It's just hard to have breast cancer in October, when everyone is talking about being proactive and hope and strength and everything, and I'm terrified that my kids will only remember my face from a photograph, and it will be a bald photograph at that. I really liked that part of the article--saying that talking about being proactive is problematic, as that implies that women are somehow in control of whether they have breast cancer or whether they survive it, when in fact, there is very little knowledge about what actually causes breast cancer or who it is going to kill. And the treatment really is a shot in the dark. Stage one, stage 4--same chemo. 35 or 75 years old--same killing of the ovaries, leading to potential ovarian cancer later. Same hair loss!
I was on a website earlier today looking up potential side effects of neulasta and found a string of messages that included advice from one woman who said that her doctor told her to look at chemo as something she "gets to do," as a privilege, and that she thought that helped her through it. I'm glad that works for some people, but I'm just not one of them. It's kind of a terrifying process, especially since the long-term effects are unknown. But I also can't believe I only have one left. In a month, or 5 weeks at least, I will hopefully be through the short term side effects and over that last hump where my WBCs will be low for a while. There will be no rest--straight on to radiation, but can it be true? One more chemo? It seems too good to be true. In the meantime, I will channel whatever positive energy I do have, and everyone else's, to avoid another beautiful weekend in the hospital. It's not going to happen. Apple picking, here we come!!