I’m three days out from my seventh chemotherapy treatment today (third round of Taxol). I’m pretty proud of myself because I attended a cookout yesterday afternoon, grocery shopped this morning, then cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer this afternoon.
I don’t feel fantastic — I have a lot of sharp pain in my joints, but I am trying to power through it because sitting in bed all day is really pretty depressing. I don’t want to do that.
Today is the first day that I’ve felt what I think is the beginning of neuropathy in my fingers and toes. I spent a little while reading online about this. One of the articles I read from a doctor says:
Despite its usefulness, chemotherapy frequently has long-term health effects–also referred as “the price of survival”–that require medical attention. Neuropathy (like the tingling and numbness you have) caused by chemotherapeutic agents (like paclitaxel, cisplatin, oxaliplatin, ixabepilone, etc.) is one of the classic examples of these lasting effects.
The price of survival. Geez … I guess that puts it in perspective. Would you rather have some numbness and pain in your fingers and toes or would you rather live? Pretty easy answer, I think.
Regardless, I’ll be calling my oncologist tomorrow. She has mentioned that she will prescribe medication that can help control it and prevent larger, long-term effects.
Our visit with her prior to my last treatment was good. She is referring me to a radiation oncologist this week so we can begin our plan for that. From what we learned at MD Anderson, I will likely undergo radiation every day, Monday-Friday, for 5-6 weeks. I’ve just started reading about the fun things that go along with that.
One of the articles I read from a radiation oncologist talked about a common misconception that radiation burns your skin. It actually doesn’t do that at all. Radiation wounds are not from damaged skin, but from missing skin. Radiation causes the skin to fail to reproduce properly so as you “use up” your skin (which is normal), your body is not reproducing more layers on the bottom.
That’s obviously why my plastic surgeon is so worried about the area where I had that nasty infection. The skin is already thin and radiation will not be its friend.
I’m going to try not to worry about that. Instead, I’ll focus on the fact that I am less than two weeks away from being done with chemo.
I thought I’d get to “ring the bell” like everyone else I read about does, but apparently, OU chemo doesn’t have a bell. How anti-climactic is that? Maybe I’ll just bring my own cowbell. Maybe I can talk Alan into dressing like Will Ferrell and playing the cowbell on the way out of the last treatment. I could even let him wear my wig. THAT would make it pretty exciting. (Skip to about 1:50 on the video to see what I’m going for.)
The strange thing to me is that there is no climactic ending to all of this cancer treatment. I guess I thought there would be, but when I asked Dr. Razaq about a big finale — like a PET scan that declares me free of cancer — she nicely told me that there really isn’t an end point. There is no end-of-treatment scan, and I will be visiting her for the next five years while I’m on hormone therapy.
As Alan pointed out, I was declared free of cancer back in December when my scans came back with no evidence of metastasis.
To quote myself:
He went through all of my scans, and the great news is NONE OF THE SCANS SHOW ANY METASTASIS!
While we were so excited about this news, it didn’t feel like a celebration because we had so many steps in front of us — beating the infection, another surgery, chemo, radiation, reconstruction.
I guess I declare my celebration to be after the last reconstructive surgery next year. That’s as close to being over as we can be, I suppose.