Beating Breast Cancer – Weekly Update #24

beating breast cancer as a thirty something - weekly update 24

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.

I’ve been without internet access for the past few days (more on that later), and I wasn’t feeling well enough last week to prepare my posts in advance.  So things are a bit delayed.  Sorry about that.

Last Monday was my ninth Taxol treatment (out of 12).  My body is used to the infusions by now, so the actual chemo treatment goes pretty fast.  As soon as I sat down in the chemo chair, I was diving into my book while waiting for my saline and pre-meds.  I only made it a few paragraphs before I noticed a small blind spot as I was reading.  Darn it.  Another migraine aura.  It was a pretty intense one – – as the aura grew larger and had almost made it to my peripheral vision, another blind spot started back in the center of my field of vision.  It lasted about thirty minutes but I didn’t have much of a headache afterwards, so that was nice.  I mentioned to my nurse and the nurse practitioner what the oncologist had said about there not being a link between the Taxol and my increased migraine auras.  They didn’t seem to agree.  Either way, my auras are back with a vengeance and I hope they get back under control after I’m done with chemo.  In the meantime, I am still sticking with my diet.

It had also been a month since my last Zoladex shot, so the nurse gave me that shot before I left.  I didn’t feel the bigger Zoladex shot at all, but the Lidocaine to get me to that state of numbness caused quite a bit of burning.  But, as I always say, once you’ve had several shots to the nipple (and a biopsy of the nipple skin), most other shots are no big deal.

I am still completely pooped out by the time I get home from chemo, until the Benadryl works its way out of my system. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I always have a bunch of arm tingling on the night of my chemo.  It feels like both of my arms are just waking up from being asleep.  But this past week, I made the mistake of letting my arm actually fall asleep in addition to the post-chemo arm tingling.  Boy, oh boy, that was painful.  It went away fairly quickly, so then I took my “Vitamin A” (Ativan, for the night-of-chemo insomnia) and slept off the rest of the tingling.

Tuesday was a good day.  The nausea hadn’t hit yet, so I was able to get some things accomplished.

Wednesday was the day of my beloved facial.  I worked with a different esthetician this time, so it was interesting to see how the facial experience differed.  It was still lovely!  She took a little extra time with me to talk about scar care for my breasts as well as “the dirty 15” ingredients of personal care products.   This was my “day three”, when I wake up feeling like I was the loser in a boxing match, so the facial was a welcome treat.

Thursday passed quickly because I was getting things ready for our camping trip.  I was still exhausted from the chemo (and a bit nauseous), so it took a lot of effort to get up and moving.  By Friday, though, we were all set to go.  Camping did wonders for my soul and my energy level.  Yes, I was still exhausted.  Yes, I still had waves of nausea.  But it was so nice to have some outdoor togetherness time with my little family.  (More on our camping trip later…)

brown fingernails from chemo brown and lifting fingernails from chemo In the world of side effects, my fingernails continue to be the biggest source of annoyance.  My fingernails have lifted enough that they all feel LOOSE.  There are a lot of things I just can’t do right now.  Peel oranges.  Open certain types of packaging. Button shirts and pants.  Take the mini rubber bands out of Ladybug’s hair.  The list goes on and on.  I am a big “hand talker” and have noticed that my gross fingernails often catch the eye of the person with whom I am talking.  The pictures don’t truly capture how gross they look in person.

peach fuzz growing back after cancer hair loss

My peach fuzz continues to grow ever so slowly.  When I rub my head now, I am finally feeling more fuzz than scalp.  I am excited to see how long it takes for my hair to begin growing at a more normal pace once chemo is over.

My toes have started going a little more numb, which might have been part of the reason that I stubbed my pinky toe three times in one day this past week.  I think the numbness caused me to lose track of where my foot actually started, so I didn’t allow enough space when walking past the washing machine.  My toe is either broken or really badly jammed…either way, it’s a lovely shade of purple.

And in the world of weight gain, I continue to pack on the pounds.  At this appointment, my nurse told me that she had just returned from a conference where they spoke of this very thing.  Most cancer patients struggle with keeping weight on during treatment, but the majority of breast cancer patients actually GAIN weight during treatment.  It is mostly due to how much the hormones are messed with during treatment, going into false menopause, etc.  On top of that, I find myself nibbling through my day to keep the nausea at bay.  As much as I try to make healthy choices, the weight still seems to climb.  I now weigh more than I did at nine months for each of my pregnancies.  No joke.  I am definitely ready to start whittling away at the extra pounds after treatment is over.

Enough about my side effects…sharing this information always makes me feel like a little bit of a whiner.  I know that I am very lucky to have gone through all of these weeks of chemo with the limited number and intensity of symptoms that I have had.  I am looking forward to putting this part of my cancer-fighting journey behind me.

Keep Reading —>  Weekly Update #25  {Taxol 10 of 12, Talking Radiation, Scary Reminder}