Beating Breast Cancer – Weekly Update #19

Beating Breast Cancer as a Thirty Something - Weekly Update 19

I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and have decided to blog about my journey.  If you need to catch up on my story, please check out this page for the chronological list of posts.

Another week is in the books.  But this week brought a very special milestone (remember, I find a reason to celebrate anything):  I am officially halfway through my total number of chemo treatments.  Between the four AC chemo treatments that I have already finished and the 12 Taxol infusions, I am slated to have 16 total chemo treatments.  This week marked my fourth Taxol and eighth total chemo treatment.  Halfway there!

Monday was my weekly trip to the cancer center, but things were a little bit different in the lab.  I don’t know if I have explained it before, but every time a person goes in for chemo, they have to have bloodwork done first.  Some people have their labs done the day before chemo, but I have always had mine about an hour and a half before chemo.  After my turn in the lab, I just sit in the lobby with a good book and wait for my appointment with the oncologist or oncology nurse practitioner (depending on the week).  In the appointment, the doctor/NP go over the results and then give the green light for chemo if everything looks good.

So what was different this week?  When the lab tech was getting my port accessed, somehow the topic came up that she was alone in the office that day.  She said that her helper was running blood samples over to the hospital for testing because they aren’t doing it in-house anymore.  I didn’t think much of it since the cancer center is on the hospital campus.  At my appointment with the oncologist, she mentioned that one of my tests was finished and looked good, but they were waiting on the other test.  Again, I didn’t think anything of it because this has happened before.  Normally, it isn’t a long wait. I find a chair in the chemo room and the nurses get me set up with saline until the results are in.  Well, my “chemo start time” came and went…and then some…and I still hadn’t started my saline or pre-meds.  I honestly didn’t worry about it, because I had my warm blanket and a good book.  I figured the poisoning would start eventually.

Finally, I noticed that the oncologist was talking to my nurse for the day.  I heard the words “unacceptable”, “switch days”, and “ask Stephanie.”  The nurse came over and told me what was going on:  There were recent changes to the way the lab is doing things and it has caused delays in getting the results of blood tests. Since I can’t start chemo until the results are in, I need to start having my blood tested the day before chemo instead of the same day so there won’t be such a long wait.  Since my chemo day is Monday, that would mean either going to the hospital lab on Sunday (since the cancer center is closed on the weekends) or switching my chemo day to Tuesday so that I can have my bloodwork done at the cancer center on Monday.  I opted to visit the cancer center lab on Monday and switch my chemo day to Tuesday.

Eventually my results came in and I got the green light to have chemo.  The Benadryl still kicked my butt, but they got my infusion down to an hour (after the thirty minutes of pre-meds), so that was exciting.

Wednesday turned out to be another low energy day.  I really do try to give it my all every morning because I don’t want to acknowledge that I might just have a pattern of fatigue developing.  I don’t want to write off an entire day as an “off” day.  As it turns out, however, the third day after my Taxol infusion tends to be a day that I feel pretty crummy.  This Wednesday was no exception.  Here’s an example:  Ladybug had been playing with blocks in the living room, next to the recliner where I often rest.  I looked at those blocks every time I sat down and told myself I needed to pick them up.  We’re talking 10 or 15 Megablocks.  No big deal.  But it was as though getting myself out of that chair, bending down, and picking up those blocks would be the equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest.  I just couldn’t make my body do it.

Luckily I was feeling better on Thursday and by Friday I was ready for one of my favorite cancer-related appointments (second place to the facial)….an expansion with the plastic surgeon.

This appointment was also a little bit different.  At the end of the appointment, he asked me if I needed any more muscle relaxers and mentioned that I would be sore and tight for the next day or two.  He doesn’t normally say those things to me.  Apparently he felt a little more resistance during my expansion that day.  I really didn’t worry about it too much because I haven’t had much trouble with soreness after my expansion appointments.

Turns out I was wrong.  Yikes.

My boobs-to-be have been super sore and VERY tight for the past two days.  I can’t take a muscle relaxer because I need to have my wits about me to……….you know………mother my children and all.  Luckily, the soreness is dying down and I am feeling better every day.  Last night I took a muscle relaxer before bed and I woke up feeling MUCH better than the previous morning.  Even with the soreness, I have been so happy with how things are taking shape. I will be so excited when I finally have my new boobs!

Another little milestone happened this week.  One that I’m not super stoked about.  Enough of my eyebrows have fallen out that I have to start filling them in with an eyebrow pencil.  No big deal for most ladies who actually put on makeup everyday, but a pretty big deal for this gal.  Luckily, I had an awesome Sephora employee give me a tutorial and pick out the perfect color (which I definitely wouldn’t have picked out myself).  Here is a before and after of my eyebrows (because I know it will make your day to check out my brows…haha):

I also now have a huge bald spot in my eyelashes that can no longer be disguised by mascara alone.  Needless to say, I’m a little freaked out by the thought of false eyelashes.  Talk about stress!!  I am hopeless with all things makeup related.  I am babying my remaining eyelashes, but I had three fall out when I was doing my makeup today, which wasn’t too promising.

That’s really about it for cancer news.  Life has fallen into our own weird version of a “normal” routine.  The days continue to pass, homework still needs to be done, diapers still need changing, kids still have grumpy days, laundry still needs washing, etc.  On the surface, things are starting to look pretty normal (for which I am super grateful).  But if you look closer, you will notice things.  You’ll see that I open Ladybug’s diaper tabs with my knuckles because I can’t grasp them with my sore fingertips.  You will notice that, after calming down, the grumpy kids almost always have a question about my cancer or treatment, showing what’s really on their minds. You will notice that next to the pile of folded laundry sits two piles of head scarves.  Overall, you will notice that cancer is still an unwelcome guest in our home.

Keep Reading – – – > Weekly Update #20 (May 28, 2017) {Taxol 5 of 12, New Chemo Day}

2 thoughts on “Beating Breast Cancer – Weekly Update #19”

  1. I love you. You are still my hero.
    If there is anything that I can do for you, please don’t hesitate 🙂
    P.s. You look so pretty.
    And…I LOVE your attitude 🙂 🙂 🙂 XOXO!

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