Friday, April 24, 2009

My first Taxo Chemo Treatment

April 23, 2009

I cannot tell you how scared and anxious I was about the new drug. I explained it in my last post, but the idea of anaphylactic shock while having the drug infused scared the crap out of me!! But I had to do it…. Right???

On Thursday, Meg picked me up work (at least I could work two hours before I went in) and we traveled the 20 minutes to my Dr. office. It was going to be a busy day there and I was glad that it was an earlier than normal appointment. Normally I go at 1pm, but this time due to the IV infusion time (and could be side-effects) it was going to take approx. 6 hours. So my appointment was at 10:30am. There were still seats available when we got there and Meg even got to sit on the coveted couch (that one always goes first). So once we settled in they started me up. First was a bag of saline, then my pre-meds (Benadril, Tagomet, a steroid, and a anti-nausea medicine), after that they started the Taxo. My nurse slowed down the drip for the first 30 minutes to see if I would feel anything. Nope, a little warm, but that was it. So she upped the drip after that.

Meg was a lot of fun. We had never got to just chat with out our babies and we were laughing so hard, I probably snorted a couple of times and not noticed (or at least I hoped nobody else would). At one point I turned to the lady hooked up to an IV next to me, we were talking about what cancer each other had and she had told me that this was her third re-occurrence of breast cancer…. Yup, you read it right. She had had it 3 times. Her cancer was triple negative (the REALLY nasty one) and she was BRAC2 positive (the mutated gene) and she said this final time she took her Dr. advise and got a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy. You know that story, you thought you were poor cause you had no shoes, until you met a man that had no feet? That was exactly how I felt. She told me that since I did not have the mutated gene, not to worry, I would be fine. But she was just fighting it every time… Wow, her courage.

Once she left, there was another woman that came to sit by me and she was a first-timer. After she was hooked up, she asked me a few questions. How many treatments I had done, how was I coping, when did I loose my hair. We had a long talk. I told her that I wouldn’t lie to her, there were days I felt like crap, but really only a few every other week. The hardest thing was to loose my hair, but you do get use to it. I was laughing with her for a lot of my session, she seemed very nice and she didn’t seem as nervous when we finished talking, which was good.

There was a woman (bless her heart) that was her last treatment… The nurses presented her with a purple rhinestone crown and we all clapped as she left for the last time, Meg and I cried with each other at something so touching. To know that in three more treatments that will be me!! I will wear that crown proudly and for probably a few days too, hell you will probably have to pry that friggin’ crown out of my hand to get it away… hahaha!

At one point, the whole room of about 10 chemo women and their guests were talking. Comparing stories, about the hardships, but what they are looking forward too. It really felt great! Meg, who had never come to something like this said it was amazing to her to be in a place was in essence suppose to be depressing and to see the courage and support that these women, regardless of age, religion, and race were giving each other. It was really fascinating and heartwarming to her.

Finally I finished my bag of drugs and had another small saline bag and my heparin flush and I was ready to go!!! I had faired the Taxo, I only hope that this weekend would be better than with the last drug. But I don’t need to have the Nuelasta (yeah) and I won’t need to take all the nausea medication (yeah!) so that is two pluses right there.

On my departure, I had to make an appointment for my next chemo appt. My nurse, Nancy told me that the first-timer I was sitting next to's sister told her that she was so petrified about starting chemo, but after talking to me she felt a lot better. She said that my spirit and my smile made her confident that she too could beat this...

Who knows... Maybe I was some one's angel today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Baby Mommas

April 17 - 19, 2009

I have referrenced my "Baby Mommas" many times. They are a group of about 16 women that had babies all due during the same week as Natalie. We have become quite tight and they are wonderfully supportive. We are actually called the "Bountiful Baby" Mommas, but when I talk about them, I just refer to them as my "Baby Mommas". My Baby Mommas are great, every week I recieve a new gift / card / flower arangment / balloon, something letting me know that I have their thoughts, prayers, and well wishes.

On Friday April 17, I got home from work with the girls and started dinner. Chris told me that I had missed call from Bridget (one of the baby mommas). I took my phone and was calling her back when the someone knocked on the door. When I opened it, it was Bridget!!! Actually Bridget, Sharon and their babies (well I guess they are toddlers now). They had drove all the way from New York to spend the weekend. I found out that these two wonderful women had planned the trip for over two months and had even made sure that they came on a non-chemo weekend so I would be able to enjoy their trip.

On Saturday morning, Meg came up with her baby at about 9:30am. It was so nice to spend the weekend with these women and their children. Our breakfast, lunch and dinners consisted of 5 adults, 1 teenager, 1 pre-schooler and 4 toddlers, oh and don't forget.. 1 dog!! They were hectic but SO MUCH FUN!!!

We had a sleep over and everyone stayed until Sunday afternoon. It was wonderful.

I have to tell you, I was having a really crappy week. I got a cold the weekend before, it was on the verge of bronchitis. I couldn't sleep well because I couldn't breathe. My energy seemed to be dwindling this past couple of weeks. This weekend, my friends helped give me a renewal of energy, I think by just making me laugh. On Saturday night, after all the babies were asleep (which was a feet by itself) the four of us Mommas went outside in the night on my deck and just sat, talked and laughed so hard. It really made me feel good.

So thank you ladies!!! Thank you for the french toast, the lasagna, hummingbird cake and the slices of cake from Magnolia Bakery. Thank you for making me feel better, for making me laugh, and most of all for your friendship.

Oh, and as a P.S. Thank you Chris for being the best husband in the world. He cooked for us and took care of the dishes and our babies so I was able to spend some time with the girls. I love you so much!!!

4 out of 8 done!!!

Okay, 4 out of 8 chemo treatments done!!! Yeah!!!

My last chemo session (the 4th) was Easter weekend, so I wanted to keep the kids with me for the weekend due to the holiday. Chris let me sleep in both days and I took a nap when the girls did and I was doing pretty well until Sunday mid-morning. But by then Chris was taking the girls to my In-laws house for Easter dinner. I stayed home so I could rest (and be in pain) and they brought dinner home to me. It worked out great… except I got a bad cold from the baby. By Tuesday I was hacking and had to go to my primary care doctor. Due to my lowered white blood count, she was worried that my cold would quickly move into my chest and was already on the verge of being bronchitis. So I was put on a heavy antibiotic and sent on my way. I am still congested, but now (thanks to a netty pot) I can breathe at night. So that is good.

My next chemo treatment is April 23, 2009 and it is with Taxo. My friend and fellow “Baby Momma” is taking me. Poor Meg, she gets the chemo treatment that is going to last 5-6 hours and I can have an allergic reaction to. But at least if I am going to go through that she will have me laughing through it.

With this drug, I won’t have to be on all my nausea medicines, which is REALLY good (which hopefully means no constipation). I also won’t have to have the Nuelasta shot the day after (which causes me so much bone pain). But this drug has its own nasty side effects…
Total hair loss (eyebrows, eyelashes, nose and ear hair)
Muscle weakness (like the flew)
An allergic reaction during the time of infusion (with each dose). A kind of anaphylactic shock reaction.
Numbness and tingling (needle pricks) in my fingers and toes
Nail changes (blacken, fall off, flip up)

I think I can handle these if I can just not feel so crappy all the time!! But we will see!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

3 Out of 8 Chemos Done!!!

April 7, 2009

Oh crap, I didn’t even realize we were already in April!!

Just thought I would drop a post about how I’m doing…. I have finished 3 out of my 8 chemo sessions. My 4th session will be my last of the AC drug (thank God!!!). Actually I don’t think that the chemo drugs are that bad to me, I take enough nausea daily that I really don’t feel that nauseous, but between the Nuelasta shot (the shot to increase my white blood cells) which makes every bone in my body (especially my upper body) burn and ache, and the constipation I get from the nausea medicines. I am sooo ready to be done with this drug.

My next drug is called Taxo (of course that is the short name for it). It has a different set of side-effects. Hair loss (my remaining) and muscle aches are the major ones. It also has a chance of anaphylactic shock while getting the drug (they will be watching me a lot during my first dosing, April 23rd). But there is suppose to be no nausea with this one (no constipation medication) and it doesn’t effect the white blood cells as harshly, so no shot afterwards… Can I here an AMEN!!!!! It is still an ugly drug, but I’m hoping that it is not so bad.

So the run-down of how I’m doing…

Hair Loss – I had to shave my head to bald. The itchiness of my fine 100 hairs that were left on my head was just too much! I know many of you wonder about my “other” hair? Well, it hasn’t fallen out, but a lot of it has seized to grow. I shaved my armpits last week and haven’t had to all week, same with my legs and other places ;-). I am slowly loosing my nose hair too, so my nose is a slow leaky faucet. I do still have my eyebrows and eyelashes for the time being.

Body – It seems to take me longer and longer to bounce back and feel good after a chemo treatment. This past treatment, I didn’t get the heart palpitations (that is good), but it seemed to take most the week before I actually felt better. When speaking about this to my doctor, I found out that it is normal. Because the drugs are accumulative, each time I have a chemo treatment they compound on each other and it will take longer to feel better.

Mind – I went to see a clinical counselor that is offered through Suburban Hospital’s Breast Center. I spent two hours crying… It was really good. There is so much to deal with sometimes I just don’t think that I can keep it together. It was really nice to talk to her and she told me of some things that I can do to lighten my load a bit.

Family – Everyone is doing good as well. All of us cannot wait for spring!

Let me see… I think that is about it.
Oh, wait…
I got some great news the other day. Two weeks ago, I met with my oncologist to have genetic counseling. When she sees a breast cancer patient who is not yet 40 years old, she will recommend genetic testing. It sounds easy enough, but everything changes if you are found to have the BRAC1 or BRAC2 genetic mutation, and not only for you, but also for your family members as well. For me, it would give my cancer a 40% – 60% chance of returning (regardless of my precautionary cancers I am doing now). To lessen that chance it would be recommended to have a double mastectomy and have my ovaries removed. I know it sounds a little extreme, so you can see why it is a tough decision. Fortunately, I found out that I DO NOT have the genetic mutation!!! Yeah!!! What does that mean? It means that my cancer is what I like to refer to as the “What the Hell” cancer. No rhyme or reason, just what the hell. But a HUGE sigh of relief for not only my sister, but also my daughters. Of course me having breast cancer puts them at higher risk than the average woman, but they don’t have the mutated gene. Yeah!!!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Thank you Meg and 98Rock

If you read my entire blog, than you know who Jordan Knight from the New Kids On the Block. If you haven't gotten there yet, than you can read my blog entitled "Jordan Knight" written in January. But here is a quick run-down....

I have group of wonderful Mommies, they are all over the Untited States. We met online because all of our babies were due in the same week, of course they were not all born in the same week, but we got to know each other very well during our pregnancies. We started at about 30 of us, and since the babies were born, we have dwindled down to about 16-20. But we are very close. So when the cancer thing hit, these women were struck hard as well. Because they knew me so well, and knew my true obsession and love for the New Kids on the Block (particularly Jordan Knight). I recieved on of my favorite gifts from my "baby mommas", an authentic Jordan Knight 14" doll, circa 1987. I loved it, it was the biggest laugh I have had since this whole cancer thing happened.

Jordan has come to all of my appointments. He was at my meetings with my surgeon, my biopsies, my exams, my doctor even allowed him to come into the Operating Room when I had my lumpectomy and my axillary dissection. My surgeon put him on the pillow next to me on the operating table. He has been to all my chemo appointments and I plan that he be there with me through radiation as well. Of course my family and my friends, Chris my husband, are alway there for me. But having Jordan there, is having my baby mommas there too.

We take pictures at all our appointments.. so here are a few of Jordan's travels....

This was the day I got my Powerport put in.

My first chemo treatment.

This is Stacy my hairdresser (the best in the world), when she died my hair pink.

This was at my latest Emergency Room Vist (see previous post).

Well, when Meg (one of my baby mommas), found out that I had bought tickets to the New Kids on the Block concert and she was on a mission to have me meet my... 20 year old obsession. On the Monday before the concert, she picked me up and we drove to Baltimore and we went to the radio station 98 Rock. Now 98 Rock is a Heavy Metal radio station, so the last thing I was expecting was to talk about the New Kids on the Block. But after they spoke to me a little about my breast cancer, they shocked me with an email that Meg had written them....

Good Afternoon -
I have no idea if you can help me, but I am looking for advice and enjoyed listening to your station when I was in college in Baltimore. "New Kids on The Block" is coming to Baltimore in about a month (please don't stop reading yet). My friend was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at 35 years old, and i die-hard fan. She already has tickets, but I was wondering if you could give me advice on trying to get her a photo op with the band or something. I realize that your radio station is in no way affiliated with the show, nor are you some sort of adult "Make a Wish Foundation", but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask if you had any pointers or could at least point me in a direction. I'm kind of at a loss here, but am willing to look ridiculous to try to afford her an opportunity. I'm sorry to bother you, and thank you in advance.

I was... um... embarrased? hahaha. But after harassing me a little over NKOTB, they told me that I would be meeting the New Kids!!! OMG!!! I was so friggen excited!! I also thought it was funny when they asked for her to remove her top (I means she did say anything, right?). I believe the comments made was that they wanted "Teets for Meets". Yup, Teets. No she didn't do it, but I still got the meet the boys!

So the night of the concert (after beeing released from the hospital the night before). I went to the concert with Gitte, the one I used to go to all the concerts with, so it was very fitting. (No, Meg didn't come with me, she wouldn't have stepped foot in a New Kids concert, hahaha).

Me and Gitte at the concert with Jordan.

There were only about 9 of us +1 (so about 18 of us) total. We were informed that we couldn't get autographs, only one picture and the woman from Live Nation said it could be with our group. Then the boy's bodyguard came out and informed us that 9 groups were too much and combined the groups so that there were us plus three more. But as long as we got to meet them, I didn't care who was in the picture....

Especially when you can so cleverly use a cropping tool.... hahahaha!!!

It was SO exciting!!!
Thank you you Meg and Balitmore's 98Rock!!!