Saturday, June 27, 2015

A 12 Pack of Eggs and a Dozen Beers

A 12 pack of eggs and a dozen beers - that is the level my brain is functioning these days.  I made a comment to my son, "how many eggs do we have? a 12 pack?" He looked at me as if I had gone totally insane - but I think I have.

Last week marked my final radiation treatment and I now get a break from chemotherapy for one month.  I know that sounds exciting but it really isn't.

The effects from the radiation and the chemo will last far past the one month break - then I get to begin chemo again.  Overall, I feel "ok" - except for when I eat or when I exert any energy.  So basically - it sucks.  The radiation damaged/irritated my esophagus and it will take a couple of months to heal.  It is extremely painful to swallow almost everything.  I've narrowed my selection of menu down to pasta, eggs, watermelon and anything liquid.  The doctors are worried about me losing weight but I can assure you, I AM NOT....if I can lose weight, YAY. The only thing I can compare the pain to is when you get something stuck in your throat and it won't go down - right in the center of my chest.  Then after drinking something to get it down, it feels like I scraped something.

I am very tired and don't have much energy but part of that is from my blood levels being really low so hopefully within a few weeks my energy will come back. I take 3 to 4 naps per day - not long ones, 1/2 hour each at most.

And finally, according to my cancer doctor, I will have new scans 3 months from my last radiation treatment.  We have to wait for the inflammation to go away.  That will be approximately Sept. 19th.  I don't know if I am anxious for that day to arrive or dreading it.  The news, no matter what it is, will be news...plain and simple...and I'll just keep on marching ahead.

Today was a bit depressing - it was the Shahinian Family Reunion in Richmond, Virginia - my docs wouldn't let me go that far so I missed seeing all my family. Thank goodness for phones and videoconferencing.

On a final note, Cameron is here for the weekend.  Today was a torrential downpour of rain.  Instead of staying home with boring, sleeping Nanna, Aunt Cocko to him to the movies - $23.00 for 2 cokes and 2 popcorns????? O....M....G...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

An End In Sight

3 more days and I am done with Radiation Therapy.  6 weeks of going to the hospital, Monday through Friday, is exhausting.  I know that sounds ridiculous but when coupled with chemotherapy, it takes every bit of energy I have each day to go.

I've been quite lucky for 6  weeks that I haven't had any effects from the radiation but that seemed to change this week.  I'm having a hard time swallowing as the radiation has done some damage to my esophagus.  They tell me the damage is inflammation and will repair itself within a few months of ending the therapy.

After that horrible 2 weeks I had, this week I am feeling really good.  I hope I don't jinx myself by saying that.  I still have fatigue.  It is so weird to feel soooooo tired by not be able to fall asleep.  I'm back to being awake half the night but I'm not complaining as I feel really good during the day. 

2 more chemotherapy sessions (6/22 and 6/29) then I get the entire month of July off.  Chemotherapy will resume August 1.  I still have to go for weekly bloodwork during July and the 3 doctors and myself will discuss what drugs we will do for the next rounds.  As long as it not that Taxol that messed me up so bad, I don't care what they use.

So overall, things are going well.  With the exception of not being able to attend my brother's wedding in Florida and not being able to go to Virginia for the yearly family reunion.  Missing Albert's wedding was hard - I waited 52 years for that.  But thanks to my sister and cousin, Maria and Shocky, we Skyped ALOT and I was kept in the loop.

Thank you again for all your comments and private messages - that is what truly brightens my day!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

It's Been A While And Alot Has Happened

I realize today it has been almost a month since I posted my journey and ALOT has happened during that time.  I didn't post because, quite frankly, just sitting up was an effort.

As you know, May 4th I started weekly Chemo treatments and daily Radiation treatments.  The Radiation ends next Friday, June 19th.  I had to go Monday through Friday the entire time.  Luckily, I have had little to no side effects from this.

Chemo, that is another story.  They have me on two medications.  Carboplatin and Taxol.  Typically, Taxol is an irritant and can cause severe side effects, which I was "lucky" enough to have to endure.

It started with severe itching on my palms, by afternoon my hands were covered in itchy blisters.  By evening, my hands and wrists were swollen double their size.  The next morning, after itching all night, I woke up to every joint being swollen and feeling like there was bone on bone scraping.  I could barely walk and was in tears nearly everytime I moved.  This lasted about 3-4 days.

Towards the end of the week, I think between the fatigue and pain, I collapsed and during a 48 hour period, I slept 44 hours!!!!  Getting up only to go to the bathroom and get a drink of water.  Upon waking up, the swelling and pain was almost gone. 

That was last week.  This week has been back to my new normal.  Fatigue, stomach issues and mild aches and pains in my joints.  But thank goodness, after stopping the Taxol all is back to my "normal." 

Last year during chemo, my hair thinned to the point where I had bald spots so I buzzed it.  Last week my hair started falling out in clumps.  Taking a shower was disgusting.  Rinsing my hair caused hair to fall and form a beard on my face that resembled the men from Duck Dynasty.  I couldn't take my hair falling out everywhere so this past Sunday night I buzzed it and there are a lot of bald spots forming as it continues to fall out.  This is a side effect that I can easily deal with after the miserable past two weeks I had.

So the plan going forward is, continue Radiation until Friday, June 19th.  That will complete 30 treatments.  Chemo will continue weekly until June 29th.  The month of July I will get a break from all treatments to rebuild my immunity system because staring early August I will resume weekly Carboplatin chemo treatments for a minimum of 6 weeks.  That will take me to mid September.  Around October 1, we will do another set of scans to see if all this has done anything and reduced/eliminated the tumors.

Overall, this round of Chemo and Radiation is much harder than last year.  Probably a combination of the daily trips to the hospital for all these treatments. I try to keep a positive outlook, but I will admit, every few days I find my self in that funk of a "pity party" and have to bring myself back to reality and be grateful for what I have.