Chemo Side Effects, Part 2

All 4 of us have sore throats and coughs.

But, THAT’S IT!  Life is good!

No more chemo and (almost) no more side effects.  Here’s what I experienced on Taxol and Neulasta:

Taxol (Paclitaxel)
Via infusion, once every 2-wks, for 4 cycles (following Cisplatin).  Continued to take Sorafenib.  Click here for side effects from those drugs.

  • Hot, red face the day after infusion
  • Mild nausea.  I took Compazine and Zofran for 2 days after infusion.
  • Hair loss
  • That which Immodium is good for
  • Mild neuropathy, only in my toes
  • Nosebleeds
  • Joint pain, which could be from the Neulasta shot

Neulasta
A shot to increase white blood cell count, given back at Emory 24 hours after each infusion. Duration of symptoms varied from 3-6 days.  Claritin and Advil helped most.

  • Flu-like symptoms, low-grade fever
  • Bone and joint pain, especially in my legs

And that, my friends, is the last I’ll write about chemo side effects!

MRI, mammogram and ultrasound tomorrow, 8/29.  PET scan Friday, 8/31.

Nicole

8 Down, 0 To Go!

Yesterday, we put the kids on the bus and drove to Emory in rush-hour traffic.  I walked a few flights of stairs, but probably didn’t need to – my wbc count was 5133 (compared to 486 at its lowest)!  That, and a Neulasta shot today, should put me in good shape for surgery.

After labs, we saw Dr. O’Regan, Kate the Great and our trial coordinator.  And then spent 4 hours with our favorite chemo nurse, Diana.

Finally, after 8 IV infusions and 24 weeks of a daily chemo pill, it was my turn to ring The Bell.

Like most infusion centers, Emory has a bell that patients ring to celebrate their last treatment.  The nurses all stop what they’re doing and applaud.  I saw huge smiles from so many people who have helped us during the past few months.

It’s over in a second, but it’s symbolic and emotional.  Sweet Sara asked if we could take her out of school so she could be there, so we made her a video instead.

Many appointments coming up, but that’s for another day.

Nicole

Countdown

I love that if we go more than a few days without posting on this blog, several of you call or email to find out what’s going on.  Thank you!  Your support really does lift us up.

We’re so close to the end, yet it’s been rough lately.  Nothing gets me down like the pain in my feet (or “HFSR,” described perfectly here) and resulting lack of mobility.  Weepy and blue, I’ve been a real pill to live with.

BUT, the clouds are clearing.

Dr. O’Regan had me stop taking Sorafenib last Thursday.  And, based on these recommendations, I’m trying lots of prescription-strength foot goo – Lidocaine, Tazorac cream and 40% Urea lotion.

Today, I felt comfortable enough to restart Sorafenib, if only for a few more days.  I believe that this is the drug that has helped me the most, but I can not wait to be rid of it for good!

Also part of the Revive Nicole campaign this week:

Nicole and JillMeet Jill.

If there is one person who understands it all, it’s this beautiful lady!  Bless her for reaching out to me when Emory connected us last March.  She completed the same clinical trial and was cancer-free going in to surgery.  Her family – a loving husband, a daughter Sara’s age and a son Sam’s age – and blog are strikingly similar to my own.

Via email, Jill has answered my questions, given me tips and encouraged me for months.  We met for the first time Friday.  She’s even more delightful in person and it’s an honor to call her my friend.

The Yates FortAnother summertime splurge, this fort and a pair of swings were installed in our backyard last week.  We added the bucket & pulley, some landscaping and threw some rocks underneath and called it a rock garden.

The 4 of us spent the entire weekend outside, huddled together on our own turf.  Re-energizing.

The Glass CastleI also escaped into The Glass Castle, which a friend dropped off last week.

Wonderfully written and, somehow, funny, it’s a great read for anyone.  And, if you’re feeling down?  You’ll be counting your blessings in no time, wondering how in the world this gifted author made it through her childhood.

Add countless other gestures from family, friends and Joey’s coworkers, and I’m ready for this Thursday!  My last chemo treatment.

Nicole

Back to School

We put these cuties on the bus this morning for their 1st day of school.  Somehow, we’ve managed to become the parents of a 1st grader and a 3rd grader.

While the kids are organizing their desks and deciding what they think of their new teachers, I’m still recovering from Friday’s chemo.  Hot, red face and nausea from Taxol, feeling like I have the flu from the Neulasta shot, and extremely painful feet again – from Sorafenib and my jaunts in the woods last week.

August 23 will be my last chemo treatment.  It can’t come fast enough!

In the meantime, I can’t wait to hear how the kids’ day went!

Nicole

Perspective

Cancer, schmancer.  It’s the week before school starts, and that’s the big news around here.

We find out which teachers the kids have on Wednesday, and we get to visit their new classrooms on Thursday.  I moved my next chemo treatment to Friday, 8/10.  My mom and stepdad arrive tomorrow.

My happy placeThank you for your words of encouragement regarding my new look.  And, yes, our children, like their dad, were wonderful.  Nervous for me, comforting and so sweet.

It’s interesting that – with everything I’ve been through the past few months – shaving (*) my head is what has made me feel like I can do anything.  Once my hair started falling out in earnest after the first Taxol treatment, it was hard to think about anything else.

Now, I have nothing but fuzz and the world did not end.

I celebrated yesterday with an hour-and-a-half hike in the woods.

Nicole