Tuesday, May 29, 2007

May 30, 2007 Rollercoasters and roses

Yesterday was my 6th chemo treament of 8, so let's do the math: 75% done! The last two treatments (5 & 6) were taxol instead of adriamycin and cytoxin. Taxol works a little bit differently and doesn't cause the nausea of adriamycin and cytoxin. It has its own peculiar side effects, such as numbing and tingling of the toes and fingers, muscle pain, bone pain, anemia, and fatigue. There are other symptoms but these are my main ones. The bone pain is incredible. I can only describe it as the feeling that you got hit by a truck and every bone in your body aches. The doctor says the tumors continue to shrink. The palpable ones are measured with a micrometer. After the first Taxol treatment, one particularly resistant tumor shrunk 0.5 cm! I was more than pleased. This is the advantage of doing chemo before surgery. You can see that the chemo mixture is working.

Surgery is planned for the week of July 23. I have a few more tests to do before surgery. I hope I get an A!
Unfortunately, the chemo brain fog continues. I am getting pretty spacey these days. It helps to have a sense of humor. I laugh at the silliest things and daydream a lot. I have amazing dreams at night. I sleep about 4 or 5 hours a night, but I sometimes nap during the day. I occasionally get irritable and frustrated, but mostly I'm optimistic and hopeful. I find myself being introspective a lot. For example, I was pruning rose bushes the other day. They are my neighbor's bushes and they are close to our property line. We have been pruning, watering, and feeding these bushes for years. He has thanked us many times. They are the only healthy plants on his property, and I really enjoy them, so we keep doing the work and sometimes we even cut some roses for the house! I was deadheading the rose bushes the other day. Most of you know you have to carefully snip off the dead rose blooms, along with a good bit of stem, so that others may grow. I throw the dead roses away and don't hang on to them for any sentimental reasons; I don't know anyone who keeps them or composts them! But a lot of people don't have time to do the deadheading. I like to do it. On this day it reminded me of getting rid of old baggage in my life. If I want to get some beauty in my life again, I am going to have to carefully remove the old, dead blooms along with a good bit of stem and get rid of them permanently. Close the bag and put it out on the street for the garbageman. Water the bush and feed it and, with luck, more beautiful blooms will arrive soon. This could apply to generic, old baggage in my life and also to the cancer that I'm hosting in my body. . . . .I can't look forward to new beauty and joy in my life until I get rid of all the cancer. Next to the old dead blooms on the neighbor's bushes are some new, delicate buds. I recognize that I have lots of beauty and joy in my life right now if I could only see it! Sometimes it's hard to see the beauty and joy when there's junk in the way. I have had other mini-epiphanes lately, some way too personal to share in this public blog. Even with the chemo brain fog, I have had some clarity about some things that have been bugging me for a long time. I suppose it's about being fully present in the moment, and aware of all the signs that are out there. Reminds me of one of my favorite movies from the 1990s, L.A. Story. Do you remember Steve Martin (Harris) and Victoria Tenant (Sara) looking at the signboard on the freeway? The signboard says (quoting Hamlet): "There are more things in heaven and earth, Harry, than were dreamt of N your philosophy." The signboard is saying that if we open our minds, we can envision a better world than the one we think we live in. Now that's optimism.

Speaking of LA, I'm off to LA with my kids next weekend. That should be interesting! They want to ride rollercoasters. I think I'll be the bag lady, sitting on the bench holding the cameras, bags, etc. I hope to ride many rollercoaster in the future, but not this month. I'm afraid my wig might fall off! California, here we come!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

May 2, 2007 Halfway there, livin' on a prayer!

Been feelin' pretty crappy since my last treatment. I had a little breakdown during the chemo drip and felt a little claustrophobic. I just wanted to get out of the place. The nurse gave me a prescription for some anti-anxiety meds because I was FREAKING OUT. I haven't taken one yet, but my stomach is in knots. I have a bunch of anti-nausea meds that I'm taking, so I should be OK until about 4 pm on Wednesday. I'm lucky two friends, Trixie and Barb, stopped by in the middle of my treatment, so I was immediately distracted. The nice man in the chair next to me described his treatment and that made me feel better. I was overreacting, I know.

So here's something funny: I had been reading about this chemo brain fog, a condition that includes forgetfulness, spaciness, etc. For a while I was spared but this last week was a doozy. For example, I just wandered around my house for about 45 minutes after getting ready in the morning before work, wondering what I needed to do. Total fog! I told my doctor and she laughed (apparently she thinks I'm funny). She said only professional women & men with tight schedules notice that fog. She said I will be fine after it's all over, but here's my thinking . . . . I want to have this excuse for a long time!

May 6, 2007, finishing this post. It's the weekend and I haven't felt right since my treatment. I am drowsy and fatigued all the time. I can't even think of the word "chemo" without my stomach turning. I really don't know how I'll get through the next four treatments, even though they are supposed to be easier. I don't know how I'll get through working next week! Eating has been weird. Sleeping has been weird. I'm just not myself anymore.

The fog continues. Plus, my allergy to mulberry tree pollen is in full swing, so that adds to the misery. I have had the most amazing nightmares. The last one involved work and it was so real that I woke up thinking it had actually happened. I almost called my boss!

So you want some good news? I had a great time on the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk last Saturday. The weather was gorgeous and I walked with Team Green Alene, with Alene Hardin as the chief survivor (I am just the junior survivor). Team Green Alene does it up right. We had a tailgate party at 7 am with breakfast burritos, fresh, giant, nuclear strawberries, and juice. We started at 8 and were finished before many had even started. It was so fun to get out there, even though I felt like a freak in a way. But I didn't care! Here we are at Mile 2.

In the photo are the Hardins (Alene took the photo) along with the biggest flirt in Albuquerque, Karen Hoffert. Beside me is Callie Bryan, my daughter's friend, who ran the 5K. Rachel was hiding. She probably was embarrassed because I wore the Breast Cancer Survivor Sash they gave me as a necktie. I mean, honestly, who wears a sash? Besides the homecoming queen, I mean.

I sure feel better when I get outside and exercise. So that's good news. And some of my tumors continue to shrink, so that's good. The others aren't growing, but they don't seem to be shrinking as much as the other ones are. Surgery is still scheduled at the end of July.

Take care everybody!

PS the title is for all the Bon Jovi fans out there!