Monthly Archives: August 2011

Chemo at last!

Chemo at last!

Written Aug 27, 2011 11:05pm

I never thought I would be so happy to hear that I “got” to do chemo, but yesterday I felt like cheering when I heard that my white blood cell count had gone up enough for me to continue chemo.  I just was tired of being on hold, and I am wanting to continue to fight the cancer with chemo before moving on to another type of treatment so that I can get the full benefit of chemotherapy.
My wbc count was barely high enough to recieve the Taxol yesterday, but my doctor let me with the warning that it is highly likely that the Taxol will decreased my wbc count again, and that I may not be able to do it again next week.  But we will just take it week by week.
We talked about alternative treatment plans if I cannot tolerate the Taxol without my wbc count plunging every time.  But hopefully this will work.  I will be taking a couple of shots this week to help my wbc count, so hopefully that will work, and I will be able to do the weekly Taxol/Herceptin treatment that we had originally planned.
I could not sleep very well at all last night, even after taking a sleeping pill and Nyquil.  This happened last time I had Taxol too.  I guess that is just a side effect.  But other than feeling a little more tired today, I don’t feel any other side effects of the chemo right now.
Branden came with me yesterday, and since I was taking Taxol, which can make your fingernails and toenails die, I had to have them in buckets of ice water while I was receiving the Taxol for about an hour and a half. Branden always gives me a hard time if I have to take my fingers out of the ice water for a little bit because it hurts so much.  I can usually keep my toes in the whole time because they just get numb, but fingers just have so dang many nerves in them that it is really hard to keep them in freezing cold ice water for that long!
I challenged Branden to put his fingers in the ice water for as long as he could.  Any guesses on how long he did it?  It was probably less than 2 minutes!!  =)  It was killing him!  He had this tortured look on his face as he tried to keep it in for a little bit longer, and he said, “okay, okay, this is pretty bad!”  I just wanted him to have a little sympathy for me!!  =)
I got my official Utah drivers license in the mail a couple of days ago.  It is quite the mug shot!  I look so mad in my picture!  That is because when I went to take my test, I was in this long line, and didn’t have all the exact right documents needed, so I had to first go home again to get something else.  (It was hard to get the right documents for identification and residency because my wallet had been stolen with my old driver’s license and social security card!)
I went in shorty after I had gotten home from the hospital (about 4 weeks ago), and I still felt pretty weak, but was determined to get my driver’s license taken care of that day.  I had babysitting all lined up, and thought I had all the documents I needed.  After I went all the way back home and got through the long line again, I wasn’t in any mood to hear the guy ask me if I could take my scarf off for the picture.
I suddenly felt so embarrassed because there were all these people around me, and he was asking me to reveal my bald head in front of everyone!  I just looked and him and said, “I’m bald!  I’m going through chemo right now.  Do I really have to take my scarf off?!”  He sighed and said, “Just a minute.”  He went back and conferred with several people while I stood there trying to keep myself from crying in front of everyone.  I don’t know why I let myself get so emotional about it, but I guess I just felt humiliated!!
I heard him say to a police officer that he was speaking to, “Well, it’s not for religious reasons.”  Anyway, after they kept me waiting for a while and discussed it, he came back and said that I could leave it on.  I said, “I’m sure other people have come in here who are in chemo before.”  Then I sat down and had my picture taken.  It was not a very happy picture!!  So now I get to have this driver’s license picture of a mad, skinny Denise with a scarf on my head until 2016!!  =)

Feeling good, but no chemo!

Feeling good, but no chemo!

Written Aug 19, 2011 4:50pm

After feeling great all week, I went in for chemo today, hoping that my blood work would show that my white blood cell count had gone up from last week, and that I was ready to get going on my chemo again.  I am taking Taxol and Herceptin now.  Taxol is the chemo drug, and Herceptin is another type of treatment that is very good, but is not really chemo.  The Taxol is what I was hoping to get.

Unfortunately my white blood cell count is even lower than last week!  I was able to get the Herceptin, but then I just went home after that.  It made for a shorter day at the hospital, and I don’t get bad side effects from Herceptin like I do from the Taxol, but I felt disappointed to not be receiving the treatment I need.  I am concerned that my body might just really not like the Taxol, and I may not be able to continue chemo if my white blood cell count doesn’t go up soon.
There was another lab result that is an indicator that my body is preparing to make more white blood cells soon, and that number was very low too, so I don’t know if it will be any better next week when I go in or not.
Dr. “B” feels like my bone marrow is still very low from the first type of chemo I was receiving when I got so sick.  Then when I started my first treatment of Taxol two weeks ago, it made my body react badly because it remembers what the other chemo did to me.  (Something like that!)  We are just going to play this week by week and see what happens with my white blood cell count next week.
In the meantime, I do feel good, and have been able to run almost every day this past week.  It has been beautiful weather, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting out in it!  I missed out on a lot of this summer, and have been trying to make up for it a little bit these past few weeks.  I even hiked part way up the mountain that is behind our neighborhood.  I would have gone higher, but I saw a snake and decided it was time to turn around!!  =)
My niece, who has been living with us and helping me take care of my kids and house, is leaving today.  I am glad I feel a lot of energy right now so that I can hopefully handle things without her.  It has been a while since I have taken care of my kids all by myself!  (Pretty sad, but I will have to get used to it again.)
My oldest, Alec, will start school on Tuesday, and I found a preschool for Max and Lily which will begin two weeks later.  They will go everyday from 9-12, and Macy will go into their toddler room for daycare during that time.
I would rather just have them home, but I don’t know how I will feel during the rest of treatment, and after chemo I still have radiation for 6 weeks, then a surgery, etc., etc., so I felt like we needed to have some time each day for me to rest, or get things done without the kids.  And if I continue to feel well throughout all this, then who knows what I will do with 3 free hours each day!!

2 down, 10 to go!!

2 down, 10 to go!!

Written Aug 13, 2011 12:04am

Today was my second of the 12 rounds of chemo that I will be doing with Taxol and Herceptin.  I have continued to feel great this week, and I appreciate feeling well so much more than I ever have in my life!!

I don’t know if this will continue throughout the rest of chemo, but even if I start feeling worse, this has been a good reminder for me of how I will feel again when chemo is over.  If I start to feel fatigued or sick, I know that I have something to look forward to when I am done with all of this!!  I am so glad that I am only sick from the chemo, and not feeling sick at all from the cancer.  That means that I can feel like myself again at some point.
I also feel like I have had a much better attitude this past couple of weeks because of how good I feel.  It’s interesting how much mood can be effected by how we feel physically.  My kids have been happier too because I have been happier.  I need to make sure to keep up this good feeling even if I start to feel worse throughout the next several weeks of treatment.
I just am so grateful to be able to do normal things like exercise, play with my kids, run errands, go out with Branden, see friends, clean the house, and have the energy to do it all.  I even went on a big water slide at 7 Peaks Water Park this week when Branden had a work party there.  It was the most normal “healthy person” kind of activity that I have done all summer long!!  Nothing is healing right now (like from surgery), and I am not too nauseous or weak or dizzy to go on a crazy ride.  It was so fun!!
So, for chemo today, despite the fact that I am feeling so well, I was not allowed to do the Taxol, because my white blood cell count was too low again.  I did get the Herceptin, but that was it.  It made chemo shorter, and I won’t have to worry about feeling bad this week because Taxol is the one with the side effects, not Herceptin.  I was disappointed that I could not do my full treatment, because I want to make sure we are fighting this cancer as aggressively as possible.  But then again, it’s nice to know that I will not get the side effects from the Taxol this week.
My white blood cell count is not dangerously low.  My doctor is just worried because of how much it dropped, and because of how sick I got before when my white blood cell count basically went to 0.  I went from 14 last week (which was slightly high due to the steriods I had taken), to only 3 this week.  Dr. “B” just wants to see my numbers go up some more by next week.
I hope that it is up next week, because I don’t want to miss another treatment.  It is not a big deal that I missed one, since we will be doing so many, but I want to know that I am fighting this thing.  If I’m going to be in chemo, I want to just do it aggressively and know that I did my best when I am done.
I was surprised that my wbc count was low since I feel so well, but my wbc count has been all over the place the last several weeks, so I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised.  I guess it is good to be cautious though, because I certainly don’t want to go back to the hospital again.  Overall, I feel great, and I will just hope and pray that my white blood cell count increases this week.

Starting chemo again, and the run

Starting chemo again, and the run

Written Aug 7, 2011 10:59pm

On Friday I started chemo again.  I will admit that I was a little nervous to get going again, because I really have been feeling well this week, and wanted to keep that going.  BUT, . . . . I can’t stop chemo forever, or I will never get done with it!  My new chemo plan calls for 12 weekly treatments at a lower dose.  My sister and her family made a little song about it called “The 12 Days of Chemo” for me.  (like the 12 Days of Christmas).  I thought that was very clever!

On Thursday night I had to take some steroids to help me not get an allergic reaction to this new type of chemo that I am starting.  On Friday, right before my treatment, I had to take more steroids.  I don’t really like the idea of taking steroids, but it did seem to give me an energy boost for the weekend!
This was the first time I have gone to chemo by myself.  I laughed that morning when Branden asked in our morning prayer that I would “have fun at chemo”. In fact, on the drive up I was thinking about how I needed to be tougher mentally because I had been feeling a little wimpy lately.
Then right after I said a little prayer in my head about needing help, I turned on the radio and “Eye of the Tiger” just happened to be on!  It reminded me of getting ready for track meets with my old college roommate who always used to listen to that song before her races. Right after that, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” came on.  It was great!  The whole drive up there were all these songs on the radio that were great for “pumping me up” for chemo.  When I got to the hospital, I actually had a pretty good day, because I know all the nurses and doctors up there by now, and I had a lot of fun conversations with people.  I didn’t feel weird or sick at all, and I drove home still feeling pretty good.
I was so glad that I felt good, because the next morning was the run/walk that my Boston friends organized to show their support.  There were people who wore t-shirts for me, and ran or walked wherever they lived, all over the US, and a few other countries as well!!!
A group got together in our neighborhood and started right outside our house.  I was so glad that I felt good, and was not in the hospital or anything for this event.  It was nice to be able to go out with everyone and be a part of it too.  It was a beautiful day here in Highland, Utah, and I felt very loved by new and old friends.  I walked a loop around our neighborhood, and felt great.
It has been a little surreal sometimes to be receiving attention and support from so many people. There is a part of me that doesn’t always know what to do with all of it!!  But I have had to be very open throughout this whole experience, and have found that it is easier that way.  I have gained a lot of strength from others around me, and have been lifted many times when I needed it the most.
Thank you, once again, to those of you who have reached out to me.  I realize each day how grateful I am for the wonderful people in my life.