Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So far, so good -- I think

Thought I'd give an update...

The Taxotere, as promised, doesn't seem to make me very nauseous, thankfully (YAY!). I felt a bit queasy on the first and second day, but admittedly some of that may have been nerves.

Speaking of nerves, so far I have had faint symptoms of some slightly numb toes on one foot and the side of my hand felt a little tingly. I say these symptoms are faint because at this point I can't be sure if they are my imagination or what. Truth be told it's possible I am being hyper vigilant.

Part of the reason things might be going better than expected is because at the last minute my oncologist switched me to a different infusion schedule. Rather than going every three weeks I am having weekly infusions...this means the drug enters my system in smaller doses at one time. It is supposed to be equally as effective and the same amount of Taxotere is administered over all, but in smaller quantities there has been some evidence of less side effects, such as the neuropathy I fear.

I am also going to be taking some supplements that have been shown to help combat neuropathy, such as increased B vitamins, Melatonin and the amino acid L-Glutamine (all w/doc's approval).

These frozen mitts are something I'm considering, too -- they look like boxing gloves that you freeze and wear on your hands during the infusion (or they have booties for you feet, as well). They have been shown to prevent fingernail loss, something else Taxotere causes, and the thinking is they may also protect the periphery nerves which are most vulnerable to damage from taxanes. However they are darned expensive considering you have to buy at least 2 pairs and there is concern that if used improperly they may actually hasten nail toxicity (and possibly nerve damage) by causing something called a vasodilation reflex -- in a sense if the gloves lose their coldness too soon it can cause an opposite reaction and open up the blood flow more, creating better circulation which is the complete opposite of what you I'm not sure about using them. Additionally, the lymphedema therapist I saw suggested that prolonged exposure to cold can be a trigger for lymphedema, so I'm left wondering which would be worse, neuropathy or lymphedema...and which would be more likely? Don't know.

But otherwise, all in all as of now I am doing okay, which is great news for a change :D Tomorrow I go for my second infusion of 12 total. My last infusion is April 15th...not normally a day one celebrates, lol, but believe you me, it will be a freakin' huge happy day for moi!

That's it for now...until next time, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chemo, phase II -- wish me luck

Tomorrow I begin phase two of chemotherapy, taking the drug Taxotere. I've just finished Adriamycin and Cytoxan which are supposed to be the worst part...however some women report that the taxanes (Taxotere, Taxol and Abraxane) are actually harder to deal with. Who knows?

I am probably more afraid of this regimen than the former because of the possibility of permanent neuropathy -- particularly in my hands. I fancy myself a writer, after all, and I need my fingers to to be agile enough for typing on a keyboard. The thought that after all of this I can't return to a normal life doing what I love....well, that hardly seems fair to say the least. But then again, none of this is fair.

Forgive the pity party, but it seems each leg of this breast cancer journey has had some huge hurdle, some unexpected turn of events. Major skin necrosis after reconstruction, an SVT after port placement and the worst nausea I've ever experienced after my first round of chemo -- despite all the assurances that the anti-nausea drugs work wonders. So is it any wonder I'm expecting the worst case scenario? As my oncologist says, I've been pretty beat up lately.

So...I am filled with dread, I don't mind telling you. But I'm forging ahead despite it. Okay, not exactly forging...more like limping ahead weakly.

Wish me luck (and you can call me Bitch, too, if you wanna)