Cancer Chronicles: Post 3 of 6

Chemo cycle #3: July 15th 2010

I celebrated my 30th birthday a week ago with some friends and it was great.

Blood work from 2 days ago was fine so I am fit enough for my 3rd dose of poison. I have to see my lovely onc, Alison, before I go down to the chemo clinic. “Where is it?”, she asked, referring to the tumour. It was very visible few inches above my nipple and now it was practically gone. Only small “grains” could be felt where this big tumour once was. She said she would see what happens in 3 weeks’ time before making a final decision on reducing treatment and that was cool with me. Meanwhile, I’m secretly planning to just do one more and call it a day. But I kept quiet about it.

I reminded Alison about my holiday to Turkey and she reassured me I’ll be fine. So I had my 3rd chemo, endured the usual side effects, then 4 days later I was off to Turkey with two of my friends, despite hubby and my in laws still freaking out a little. My side of the family was fine because they believe in miracles and like me, don’t usually stress about the negative “what ifs.” My response to someone was that there are hospitals in Turkey, too, just in case. 

In the end, my hols turned out to be a blast, and apart from the odd day or two of feeling bloated from chemo, slightly fatigued and mild stomach cramps, I was in good shape! I went running with the girls and swam a good few lengths in the pool every day. We went out on a boat ride, jumped off into the ocean, swam out to a little cliff, which I climbed and then jumped off. I was scared but I did it. And it was worth it. It was the first time jumping off a cliff. We also went raving one night and I danced my ass off as usual. 

The trip was a week long and I missed my husband and daughter like crazy. But it also made me appreciate them even more and I felt refreshed and renewed when I returned home. If you’re on my friends list and don’t have restricted access, you can search for my “cancer” album if you’re interested in seeing some pics.

Cycle # 4: August 5th – attempt #1 

I saw Alison again today. She said I’ve got a “Complete Response” from chemo and I’m in complete remission (she could no longer feel the tumour to the touch). What a relief! I already knew I was healed/healing – I could just feel it. Alison is happy for me to have a reduced cycle from 8 to 6 so time to start Docetaxel. With this new drug, I need to take some steroids the day before and continue for 3 days so chemo postponed until tomorrow. I am apprehensive about starting this new drug. Will I cope as well as I have been with EC? Why not continue with EC since I’m doing so well? Alison says it’s protocol, just in case the cells get used to one drug. What cell? I have no cancer cell left in me as far as I’m concerned. But let the doctors do their thing, while my faith do the rest.

It’s Friday 6th August and in goes the chemo through my veins which, by now, are starting to collapse on my left hand – literally dying! Sometimes the chemo nurses have to give me a few pricks before they find a good vein because some of them have turned black and hard, while others are too tiny/weak. Alison says that intravenous chemo is like pouring acid down a tiny drain pipe. Three minutes after they started the new drug, my chest got tight and I couldn’t breathe. I started having really hot flashes so the nurses immediately stopped the drip. I was so overwhelmed and scared, I started to cry. I didn’t know what was happening to me but it turned out to be an allergic reaction. 

I could have died right there if they hadn’t acted quickly! I didn’t want to change the damn drug in the first place. Why change what works? Hello, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! They called a doctor who examined me, then decided that they would not continue with Docetaxel. They said they would instead give me a weekly dose of EC for the remainder of my treatment and I flatly refused. I mean, the thought of being poisoned on a weekly basis did not appeal. So they agreed to put me back on my usual dose of EC. But I will have to go back in a week’s time just to make sure my blood and everything else was okay – yet another hospital visit and blood test! The journey continues!

Ladies and gents, listen to your bodies and be vigilant. And men, some of you are still not aware that men can also get breast cancer. Let me tell you that I’m in various groups and forums with men who’ve undergone mastectomies and many of them were not even aware that it could happen to them. Cancer does not discriminate! If you’ve read this far, I appreciate your patience. 


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