Thursday, July 24, 2008

Getting back on track

I am now 75% done radiation (5 more treatments to go) and so far it's been going really good. I have no new fatigue as a result of the radiation and in fact I feel more energetic and like myself than I have in over a month. The only real symptom that I am experiencing is some skin redness. Apparently my symptoms will continue compounding and should peak about 10 days after I'm all done. But so far my experience with radiation has been much more tolerable than anything else!

Today I had a visit with my oncologist where we reviewed everything again. In general, things are really turning around. My heart functioning is staying strong even through all of these drugs and my body is getting stronger. I had another injection of zolodex today (the one that temporarily shuts down my ovaries). These will continue monthly until it actually does what it is supposed to. Because of my crazy reaction the last time, I was a bit nervous about introducing it again to my body - but so far I am feeling fine.

I have been getting more involved with my Rethink efforts and things for our October event in Calgary are really shaping up! As well we have started to discuss our first education event, which is really where the value of our hard work pays off. Because of my connection to them, I have been talking to a certain national magazine that will remain nameless for now. It is likely that I will be profiled in their October issue. I have already been interviewed and will be photographed next week, but until it's actualy in print, I won't believe it's real.

In general, I am really starting to look forward to less visits to the Cancer Center and a more predictable life. I have the feeling that things are really starting to get back on track! Next week I will be finishing radiation & herceptin and saying goodbye to the "big" stuff. For someone who thought I was saying goodbye to them once before, I am a bit superstitious to get too ahead of myself, but I certainly am feeling a sense of change in the air!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

6 pokes and Ina is in!

I have now completed 7 radiation treatments and have 13 left to go. After my treatment on Wednesday, I will officially be 50% done. I am still feeling fairly tired, but overall I feel a bit stronger each day. They say that the fatigue as a result of the radiation should kick in by the end of this week. I am also lathering on the Glaxal (greasiest cream ever) onto the radiated area 4 times a day. This is my best chance at avoiding some major skin concerns. All in all, so far so good on the radiation front.

Yesterday I went in for my second last herceptin treatment. Considering the fiasco that happened 3 weeks ago, I was really nervous. The difference this time was that they were going to give me all of the drugs they pushed through after my body went crazy, at the very beginning. This way, they were hoping to pro-actively stop another reaction from occurring.

But apparently I was nervous for the wrong reason. The real problems started when they couldn't find a vein to start an IV. Typically the rule is that each nurse gets to try 2 times and then they get someone else. They will only try 6 times and then you're done being a human pin cushion. After 4 unsuccessful tries, they called in Ina. She is the nurse that can always find a vein when others can't. Although her first try (#5 in total) was unsuccessful, #6 finally proved successful! They actually found veins 3 of the 6 times, but when they started the IV, the veins blew. So, my arms will surely be nice and bruised up in a day or two.

Once they started pushing through the pre-medications, I fell asleep. They also took longer to push in the Herceptin and that seemed to work. I slept for the 2 hours that they ran meds through my body, only waking up briefly to feel that familiar sensation of light headedness and not really being there, but then I would fall back asleep and the reaction would go away. When I got home I slept for the rest of the day.

Yesterday evening we went to a BBQ at a friends house. There were 5 boys, so you can imagine the fun they all had. I was only half awake, but we still had a great time and it was nice to be in a normal setting for a few hours.

The next week holds lots of exciting things. My 50% mark of completion for radiation, we are picking up the new car we purchased which will make our road trip to Regina much quicker, some friends from Edmonton are coming for a visit and I hope to go into a work planning session. It really helps to focus on all of the great things going on in life to take our attention away from everything else. Everyone goes through hard things, so just keep focusing on the good to get you through.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tattoo's, Hot Flashes & Resilience

I really need to start blogging more often because each time I sit down to do it, I can't believe how much has happened! We attended Talyn's orientation at his new preschool and he was one of 3 kids getting a 10 minute tour of the classroom. He found it extremely difficult to hear about all of these great things and not play with them, so we had to redirect him back to making a good impression on his new teacher a couple of times. At the end of the tour she said that Talyn seems very outgoing. Which must be the new polite way of saying "I will have to watch him closely!".

Last Wednesday I attended my radiation simulation appointment. It was a room exactly like the real one I will be using, but the green beams it projects aren't radiation. They got me to lie in a bunch of different positions and took pictures once they got the angles right so they could mimic it the following week. When we were all done, they said "ok, we just need to bring in the tattoo lady and then we'll be done". I naively asked what she was needed for and I got the response "oh, didn't anyone tell you about the tattoo's?". So, 15 minutes later, I now feel much edgier than the old Tasha with 4 blue freckle like permanent tattoo's that they use as markers for my positioning.

I met with Dr. Webster on Thursday to review the latest episodes I had experienced and again review why this might be happening. His theories, which usually prove to be right, are that these are either because my second type of chemotherapy is again trying to put me into menopause and the drastic change in hormones is hard on me or that my body is just really tired.

After radiation, I am going to be taking a daily drug to stop the hormone production in my body so that my specific cancer that likes hormones, won't latch onto them. Because the drug they normally give pre-menopausal women didn't work on me the first time, they are now trying their second weapon which requires that I am post-menopausal. To do this, they inject me every few months with a needle in my stomach of Lupron. It acts to temporarily shut down my ovaries - science is definitely advanced in some areas!

The goal is that I go without a period for 4-6 weeks following this injection and then we start the drug. I of course asked what happened if I still got my period. Dr. Webster said that this is unlikely and we would cross that bridge if we came to it.

Later that night, the lupron injection created a reaction of its own that included hot flashes, dizziness and an internal infection. I started on antibiotics later that evening and started to feel better within a couple of days. But my Canada Day was mainly spent in bed and I have been off of work this week, letting my body recover from the latest of its reactions. With my body continually sending me signals that it needs a break, I was very anxious to start radiation!

On July 3rd, Ryan took my to my first radiation appointment. I was quiet and Ryan kept asking me what was wrong, but I was concentrating on "staying calm" and not thinking about what adding another component to my weak body was going to do to me. The appointment went way better than expected! It was very quick and the ladies on my unit - Unit #1, are really sweet. They cranked the music when they left the room to help keep me calm.

I am now 2 down, 18 to go and it has been going well. My body has actually been feeling a bit stronger for the past couple of days and I couldn't figure out how that could be. Until last night when my ovaries decided that they really wanted to be the exception and cross that bridge that Dr. Webster said was unlikely. My body was clearly not going into menopause and that's why all of the symptoms had ended. In one way, that part was a nice break, but why do I always have to be the exception? So, next week I will call into Dr. Webster and find out what's on the other side of the bridge.

The energy from the past few days is exactly what I needed to feel some mental strength to push through the remaining 18 treatments. Although my body is fighting everything that is foreign to it right now, maybe that means that is is more resilient after 2 years of treatment. If the cancer does decide to strike back again, this time my body will know exactly what to do! Fight, Fight, Fight!!!