Beating Breast Cancer – Weekly Update #23

beating breast cancer as a thirty something - weekly update #23

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.

All I can say about life the past couple of weeks is: YUCK!  That’s why you haven’t heard much from me the past few days…

The Taxol has been accumulating in my system and I have been feeling increasingly gross. Apparently my disappointment about that fact ran deeper than I thought, because I had a bit of an emotional time at my chemo appointment last Monday.

What is amazing about our cancer center is that they are watching for any sign of additional needs at each appointment, from the first check-in with the nursing assistant. When I mentioned, jokingly, that I had cried at the dinner table last week because I was feeling so crummy, she took me seriously. I’m assuming that she mentioned it to the nurse practitioner because she asked how everything was going and then gave me “that look.” You know the one…where they are letting you know that THEY know. I got all weepy and told her that the past week had been rough and disheartening. She mentioned that many people benefit from a repeat chat with the social workers on staff (the ones that check in several times at the beginning of the cancer journey).

Well, I didn’t have to wait to set up an appointment because I wasn’t seated in my chemo recliner for more than five minutes before the social worker pulled over a chair and we had a long (almost an hour!) chat. We talked a lot about the subconscious and how our bodies can sense and react to things that our minds aren’t consciously processing. As we talked, I realized that one thing that I might have been noticing and getting emotional about (without realizing it) was the fact that our local high school’s graduation had been that weekend. I had seen videos and pictures all over social media that week. Since one of my goals in this cancer journey has been to live long enough to see all of my kids graduate high school (and longer!), I think graduation weekend subconsciously had me a little on edge.

I think another thing that I am growing emotional about is that I am on the downhill slope of my cancer fighting journey (this week being Taxol round 8 of 12).  There will come a day when I am not actively receiving treatment and killing cancer cells. Although I am thrilled about the concept of being done with chemo and radiation, I think this also scares me a little bit – – what happens when I’m done? I just wait to see if my body starts going rogue again? I will admit, that’s a little bit terrifying to me.

One thing that the social worker mentioned to me in that regard is that I will have a survivorship plan, which includes treatment with other professionals that can decrease the rate of cancer recurrence (such as acupuncture). She mentioned the name of a wonderful practitioner who specializes in cancer and it turns out that I received treatment from him during my crazy migraine journey. I LOVED my treatments, so I will for sure plan on seeing him again.

The other amazing thing about the cancer center is that they didn’t rush me through my conversation with the social worker so that they could get me in and out; the nurse hung back and didn’t even start my pre-meds until after the social worker left. This whole experience just reaffirmed to me that our local cancer center really does treat the whole person – – everyone in the room knew that my weepy conversation with the social worker was just as important as the meds that they would soon be pumping through my system. At one point, the social worker mentioned that they had been waiting for this moment in my journey. I wasn’t shocked by that, since the medical professionals (from day one) have been a little surprised by my reaction to this whole journey. But I was touched that they were waiting and ready to support whenever I needed it.

So, needless to say, after chemo I was EXHAUSTED! Between the Benadryl and the tears, I felt like I had been through the wringer. I didn’t get a very good nap, so I was ready for bed as soon as the kids were asleep. I didn’t want to take any chances with the chemo insomnia that I had the previous week, so I took a “Vitamin A” (Ativan) before bed and had a great night’s rest.

I would like to say that I was feeling better this week, but that would be a big fat lie. I had about three days of feeling really crummy, with one day feeling almost as bad as the AC chemo. I broke down and took a nausea med, but I didn’t like how tired it made me feel. My nausea still isn’t horrible, so I would rather be awake and alert. Maybe I would choose differently if I didn’t have a toddler to chase around.  🙂

A new development this week (or should I say a returning development) is that water is starting to taste gross again. I can still force it down because my nausea isn’t horrible, but I’m not sure if that will last too much longer.

The one side effect that continues to bum me out is the darn fingernails! Brown fingernails is one thing, but LOSING them is a completely different story. The nails are starting to lift from the beds, so I am clipping them back as they lift. But I have one nail that has lifted in a weird pattern almost to the center of the nail bed. I’m not sure what to do about that…

peach fuzz turning brown

I just think it is so weird that side effects continue to worsen in some areas while things are improving in others. Remember my peach fuzz from last week? It’s continuing to grow and has even darkened (phew!).

So life continues to move forward. I might have my work cut out for me these last four treatments, but then I’ll be done. Whoo hoo!

Keep Reading – – – > Weekly Update #24 (June 26, 2017) {Taxol 9 of 12, Side Effect Update, Zoladex, Facial}