Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chemo #4...Mom's update...

I haven't been posting too much because sometimes this cancer just overwhelms me. It is so present in my life: emotionally, mentally and physically. I have to force myself to focus on other things. Each morning I wake up with mixed signals of how many things I can accomplish in one day (I'll make a list of 5 or 10 and MAYBE get to 1) but am also filled with trepidation of possible side effects. The effects can happen unexpectedly at any time, not unlike the food aversions or cravings I may have.

I sat in the chemo chair yesterday as I watched the nurse push in my last dose of the "Red Devil" - the dreaded, harsh adriamycin that they have to infuse by hand. It looks like the thickest, brightest most syrupy red stuff going into my body. Afterwards, I pee red for about 12 hours...lovely.

I usually feel good the afternoon of chemo so my friend Liz took me to the Woodland on South Congress for my favorite big pepper-crusted hamburger, a limeade ginger soda and a pie of peanut butter chocolate pie. I ate the whole thing as my oncologist thinks I am loosing weight and who knows if the nausea will set in anytime soon. Today, this day after, can be conflicting: still energized by the steroids in the morning but with the onslaught of SE's.

*Strange things that happen or I feel during chemo: (sorry if it's TMI but everyone should know in case you have to go through this and remember everyone is different) 1) constant or underlying nausea - can hit anytime and for any length of time. I haven't puked but I can be very close at any given moment. 2) the tips of my fingers are sore at night as if my finger nails are trying to grow and they can't. 3) I have to constantly battle constipation due to the chemo drugs, I take Senekot almost daily, nice... 4) my hair is now reduced to stubble, I thought it would be smooth but it's not and at night it stands up on end and hurts to lay my head on the pillow. 4) I have to pee constantly because I drink so much water to flush my system. 5) my skin is dry, dry, dry. 6) there is absolutely no moisture in my eyes, esp at night, and I awake to put in eye drops to pry them open. 6)usually the day or so after chemo I am hit by a sharp, troublesome headache that lasts for several days. 7) the hair on my legs has stopped growing, my underarm hair is gone and my pubic hair is thinning. 8) perhaps the most troublesome SE besides the never ending fatigue which doesn't allow me to do much esp with the twins (or moreover, I push myself to walk or play with them for an hour or so, and then collapse into a nap) is the "chemo brain". I forget things, I have trouble finding words, I get lost in the middle of a sentence. Evan will ask me to remind him to do something and I'll have to REMIND him who he's talking to...I could forget at any moment. And these are just the physical SE's...

As for Mom, her surgery went splendidly but the results were not great, but not bad either. She is Stage 2 as her tumor was 4.5cm. Her lymph nodes are involved with 3/7 testing positive so Dr Smith did an axillary dissection. With lymph node involvement she is no longer a candidate for the mammosite and will receive the long term whole breast radiation with a boost to an area as they found cancer in a small piece of the margin taken from the tumor. She has elected not to have another excision surgery and I don't blame her with a cancer that has metasticised who knows where else it could already be in her body. My Mom is strong and exercises regularly so hopefully she'll sail through all of this and continue to live many more years past her current 85.

AND back to me, me, me...I am looking in the mirror at a sallow, tired, bald woman with bags under her eyes...I look sick. Nice people say I look chic with my cheekbones, shorn locks and tall, thin demeanor but I think I look like a cancer victim. So I put on my Gucci sunglasses and trudge forward...

Off to get my shot of Neulasta...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

crap I have no good words. except from CT there are health and wellness karma coming to you.

cancer sucks

mb
caits
georgia

deborah d. lattimore said...

i can so identify with you. we will have to have some kind of cyber celebration when our chemo is over.
sending good thoughts to you and your mom. xoxox