Saturday, August 05, 2006

Cycle #2 Day 11 Doing better!

Dear friends,
It is Saturday, the 11th day after my 2nd chemo. I was feeling pretty badly on Tuesday when I wrote last and want to let you know that I am doing better.
After talking to the oncology nurse on the phone Tuesday, they had me go in to see Dr. Bourg, my oncologist that afternoon. Horrible headaches and very achy. Some sores on my head. Very tired, etc. I saw Dr. Bourg late in the afternoon. My head sores weren’t too bad, but he did put me on an antibiotic. After discussing it, he felt that my headaches sounded like migraines and gave me a prescription for Midrin- a migraine medicine. It has helped tremendously. Now I am not having to spend time just laying down or taking pain pills to cope with them.
Some of the aching was from the chemo, but some was probably due to the Neupogen shots I was doing to boost my white count. I did 5 shots, Friday to Tuesday. He explained that the Neupogen goes into your bones and forces the production of white cells. This happens mostly in your pelvis and the vertebrae in your spine. My neck was inflamed, and that probably made the headaches worse. (The next morning I had horrible pain in my pelvis- like they were going to explode, but I took a pain pill and in a few hours it went away. I knew it was from the Neupogen, so I didn’t worry.) Dr. Bourg questioned our plan to do 5 chemos since I was having such a hard time, and/or decreasing some of the extra chemo he increased this last time. Now that he has helped me get the symptoms under control, I think we can press on- at least with 4 treatments of the larger dose. We will talk about it again before the next chemo.
It may sound crazy to want the extra. Here is how I am looking at it. The job that the chemotherapy is doing is to kill new cells each time they are dividing and reproducing in my body. The harder they are hit at that time in their cycle, the more of them are destroyed. The less chemo, the less success. Since I have decided to do chemo at all, I want to pack the biggest punch I can, and kill the most cancer cells possible. It only takes one or two lodging somewhere to cause a recurrence later. They say that a tumor takes about 7 years to grow from start to being big enough for detection. That is how long since my last cancer. I don’t want to go through this again if I don’t have to, so I want to fight as aggressively and hard as I can this time. It is hard on my body, but the result is worth the effort. I can build my body back up later. My cancer cells would be most likely to travel through the bloodstream to organs that receive blood- liver, brains, lungs and bones. Those are the most common recurrence places for breast cancer. So far all of those are OK according to the PET scan I had in June. I want to keep it that way. I hope that makes sense. Since I am doing chemo at all, I want to really DO IT.
Some of the other fast growing cells in my body affected by the cancer are hair, saliva, intestinal lining, and ovum (ovarian egg production). Most, but not all of my hair fell out. Since your eyebrows and eyelashes grow more slowly, they fall out more slowly. I use special toothpaste called Biotene currently as it helps my mouth cope with the decreased saliva. With less saliva, sores can easily form, so I was instructed to use a prescription mouth wash every time I get the slightest sore in my mouth. I am taking supplements specifically for my digestion. It helps some, but my intestines are not too happy currently. I anticipate being forced into menopause soon due to my ovaries being shut down from the chemo. That means hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. I thought it might be helpful for you to understand why and what some of the side effects of this chemo are. Again I am having Cytoxin and Taxitere.
When I was with Dr. Bourg, he let me get my Wednesday blood work drawn from my port while I was there. My $40 co-pay to see him covered it. Accessing the port is a complicated procedure and I would have to pay $40 just to have it done that way if I wasn’t seeing him already. Otherwise it is to the lab from the arm like everyone does. So that was a blessing. It really doesn’t hurt at all since I am numb there from my mastectomy and it works perfectly. My blood work showed that my white count was up to 5.3 on Tuesday afternoon. That time last cycle, without Neupogen, it was at 2.0 and later went down to 0.6. Yesterday my count was over 16! I have more white cells now than normal healthy people! I don’t have to do shots any more- at least until the next cycle, and I don’t have to do blood work again until chemo time on the 15th! I am up to 60% of my energy level and am taking it easy. I can last for short outings and am not pushing it. The kids have been helping a lot, and the meals friends have brought this chemo cycle have been fantastic! (Thank you all!)
I was able to go to my Friends for Life, breast cancer support group on Thursday night and we enjoyed catching up with each other and meeting someone new. What an encouragement that group is to me! Such amazing women I would never have gotten to know without my cancer history. That in itself is a HUGE blessing God has brought into my life through this experience. I feel so much richer for knowing them.
While getting my blood drawn in the chemo room on Tuesday, I was able to reconnect with a Christian friend from my Caleb Project connections, Christie, who is a nurse there. She didn't see me the other 2 times I was there, but may be able to do my infusions on the 15th. Another nurse there knows me through someone at Caleb Project too, and she is also a very sweet lady. It is a small world!
Jenni comes home from El Salvador today, late afternoon. Greg and Jesse are getting our rental house (investment) ready to re-rent as the military is moving our current renter in early September. Jesse is sad as one of his best friends lives there and is moving. We would appreciate your prayers that it rents quickly. Laura and Allison are packing to go on a trip to Yellowstone with a college friend of Laura’s from Sunday to Wednesday. Greg’s gland in his neck is much better. Thanks for praying for that too. We are studying the book of Hebrews with our small group. That is a rich book. You can never stop learning about God when you go there. It is like layers of an onion, the further in you go, the more layers of truth you discover.
So many have told me they are checking the blog for updates. Thank you for your interest, caring, love and prayers. I am so thankful for you all! Several have asked about meals. You can email Lynda Hardin at or call her at 303-470-5161 if you want to sign up sometime to bring one. She is helping to organize this while Sharyl is in Malaysia meeting with our SE Asian staff members for a conference. Greg and I were supposed to be there, but God had other plans. He is so ultimately loving, I trust Him completely.


Orrange said...

hey nancy,
your updates are great. I love knowing how to pray for you and your family better. I know it's an effort to keep everyone in the loop, so please know that it's helpful.
I'm blessed to pray for you and am extatic that your feeling a little better.

DAdams said...

Hey, I agree with you about taking as much chemo as you can. And the biotene is good stuff. It also comes in gum and toothpaste as well as mouthwash, maybe some other items too. I used when a med. made my mouth dry.
It is amazing to me that your houselhold is operating as normal during all of this. Life goes on!