Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I’m having a good “head day.”

Since I lost my hair, I don’t worry about having good “hair days,” and I do save on shampoo. I’m happy to know I really do have a well-shaped head. Until you lose your hair, you really don’t know!

I’m sitting in what I fondly call “the chemo spa.” This place is full of light, homey furnishings, wood floors, and kind & attentive staff. My sis-in-law, Pam is here to keep me company and entertain me (or is it the other way around?) We have really bonded since my diagnosis…add THAT to my list of “Things I like about my Cancer.” She hasn’t been able to be here the last few treatments, but not by her choice. Renee, one of my many kind friends has been attended the last 3 chemo treatments in order to provide “Healing Touch”, and since there aren’t always enough chairs to seat everyone, Pam thought it best to bow out. With Renee in Europe, Pam is happily back. It’s SO hard to pick between them, because I DO love the “Healing Touch” treatments! This pic is of my sweet sis-in-law.

Today, I am now having my 6th chemo treatment of a drug called Taxotere. Other than hair loss, fatigue and indigestion, I’ve not had much in the way of the horrific side-effects one thinks of when you hear of chemo. In addition to the hair on my head, I’ve lost over ½ of my eyelashes, and a few eyebrow hairs. The fatigue is mainly limited to the week following chemo, which means I’ll be spending this coming weekend, including July 4th, in my PJs. My body does seem to appreciate being able to sleep in daily until about 7:30 or 8. Before diagnosis, sleeping in usually meant 6 am…so I must be needing the extra couple of hours of shut-eye.

The indigestion isn’t something that I’m able to combat with my usual means, papaya tablets. Sometimes, the discomfort is extreme and prolonged, continuing for 4 or 5 hours, and the ONLY thing that relieves it is draping myself over a pile of pillows on the floor in an embarrassing position, hoping we don’t receive unexpected company. I call it “assuming the position.”

I’ve also been experiencing wheezing, congestion and the frightening daily (multiple times a day) coughing up of blood. This has been going on for maybe a couple of months now, and sometimes, it impacts my sleep. I’ve seen a pulmonary specialist, who referred me for a bronchoscopy. Knowing I was going to have a tube snaked down my nostril admittedly made me very nervous, but the procedure wasn’t bad at all. Fasting for 19 hours (no food OR water)…NOW that was tough! I think I was amazingly patient when my procedure was delayed an additional 2 hours, though I was less than happy when I realized that somehow, my doctor didn’t seem to have been informed that I was awaiting the bronchoscopy in the hospital’s Imaging Unit. Nothing abnormal was viewed during the procedure, which was good news, except we were still left with the mysterious bleeding.

My oncologist has eased my mind with a reasonable (but too involved for this blog) explanation of what might be causing the bleeding, basically having to do with scar tissue from the cancer site not acting properly to process air flow. In the meantime, I am back on steroid pills to relieve the inflammation.

I have scans after every 2 treatments, and in about 2 ½ weeks, I’ll be having my 3rd scan since treatment started. Although my first scan showed that my disease had simply held steady, my 2nd scan showed improvement. Of the 3 lesions previously seen, one has disappeared, and the other 2 were deemed to be smaller. I didn’t feel compelled to rush out with the “good news,” although a few folks with whom I shared this information were relieved to the point of tears. My personal response was tempered by the knowledge that the first scan indicated that the margins of the lesions were hard to determine, due to an accumulation of fluid. I had to ask myself how they could tell the lesions were smaller in the 2nd scan, when they couldn’t accurately measure them before. I’m not being negative, just cautious.

Still, the 2nd scan DID show less metabolic activity, which IS a good sign…AND (drum roll)…I have finally been able to wear a real bra, which I hadn’t been able to do since November. Now THAT is cause for celebration. The fluid build-up from cancer made this impossible to do comfortably for more than an hour.

All in all, I’m holding strong and steady, sleeping when I need to, and maintaining my weight and positive spirit. I am able to make a little time occasionally for creative pursuits (more on that later) and gardening.

This past weekend I felt well enough to put on my gorgeous hair and attend the wedding of a long-time friend, though I did have to leave a little earlier than anticipated when my body decided to have a disagreement with me. It got its way when it sent me home to “assume the position.” (I'll pass on posting a pic of that!)