Sunday, May 31, 2009

My New Radiation Oncologist

I had a consultations with Dr. S before I started chemo. She was very nice and gave me a break down of what was going to happen. Approximately 9 minutes a day for 6 weeks. 25 sessions on my entire breast and then 5 sessions called a "boost" that went directly to the spot of my tumor. When I got the bill for my copay, I called their billing office and asked to pay by credit card. The person told me that they don't accept credit cards, it must be check or cash. What?? After calling the office, I confirmed that they wouldn't accept any credit cards. That would be $600.00? From my checking account? Hell I don't have that!

So between that and the inconvenience of driving over 20 minutes every day for 6 weeks, I was now in search of a new Radiation Oncologist.

Dr. K (my medical oncologist) suggested another Dr. S (a different one). The new Dr. S was only 1.5 miles from my work. I made an appointment for the next week.

Chris chose to come to the appointment with me, I was glad. After waiting about an hour we were finally able to meet Dr. S (the new one). She spent a little bit of time going over all of my reports from Dr. K and Dr. A (my surgeon). Once she was done, she asked me a lot of questions. Same ones, how was it found, about the biopsies, how was chemo going, when was a finishing.

Dr. S started with saying that due to the severity of my cancer, she would want to start me two weeks after my last chemo treatment. I would have 35 sessions (seven weeks), each treatment would be about 20 minutes each. This was different than what we had been told by the other radiation oncologist that we saw. She explained that every day that didn't have radiation, that was on more day that the cancer could return in the original location. The first drug I had for chemo was the AC, this drug has been known to damage the heart during treatment, radiation of course doesn't help. But since I had my AC treatments first, my heart has since healed enough to proceed with radiation just two weeks after my last chemo cycle.

Dr. S said that she would have to use 4 or 5 rays. That would depend on the CT exams that would be done, you see you have 3 levels of lymph nodes. All of my axillary lymph nodes (my first and second levels) were removed, but there are still some that cannot be surgically removed (under the scapula, down the front of the chest). I will need a CT scan to confirm where these lymph nodes are in my body and then my Dr. will decide whether or not I will need one or two types of radiation.

There is protons and electrons. Protons is what she would like to use, this is radiation that goes straight through the body, but it passes the skin before it gets to intense, so it is more skin saving. Dr. S can manipulate the rays so that they rays won't deflect into other body parts. Electron radiation is different, the Doctor can dictate how far into the body it will go. This sounds better, but it is full strength throughout the entire ray, so your skin gets hit hard. Do to the shape of the chest wall, you cannot stop a sliver of lung to be hit by the rays. So the less amount of lung the better. Dr. S. said that after reading my CT she would be able to tell how much lung would be affected and make her plan of what types of radiation she will use.

She said that there is no pain while radiation is being done, but my skin will get very dry and it will feel and look like a sunburn. Dr. S said that there is a skin regiment that she strongly suggests, it will help with the burn. She said that worst part is that towards the end, I will start to peel. She suggested that during my entire radiation procedure, I should not wear a bra. What?? Not where a bra?? She said nope, already being heavily endowed will be an issue from friction alone, but once I start peeling it is really horrible pain.

Great... So guess who is shopping for camisoles and REALLY loose fitting shirts??

Then came my questions...
1. Can I still get my port taken out even during radiation? Yes
2. Can I get an IUD inserted while radiation? Yes
3. I have an appointment with a plastic surgeon on June 8, will that be an issue? She laughed and said, "You can go ahead and have an appointment, he can talk to you all he wants, but he WILL NOT put one finger on you!" .... Okay..... "Don't get me wrong, my husband is a plastic surgeon. I totally respect the profession, but we need to put a little perspective on this. Your life is my priority. He can do what ever he wants after radiation, but your life is my hands." I knew at that moment that this was a good doctor for me.

I will have my first simulation on Monday morning. They will do my CT and makes some marks on my body to align to the machine. A few days before I start radiation, I will have a validation appointment, where Dr. S will check my marks with the radiation machine, and if her plan matches my body, I will get my official blue freckle tattoos (there will be about 5-7) and I will start radiation a day or two later.

PS. I came back and cancelled my appointment with the plastic surgeon. To be honest, I don't want to get anything done until the girls are older and testing time is over (about 5 years).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

7 Down, 1 More to Go!!


I had chemo was this past Thursday. My Mom and Dad came with me again today. We hit Chipotle before we got there and brought the food with us (it makes the time pass quicker when I get to eat). Except this time, I was sitting next to a woman that got nauseous by the smell of the onions, so Mom and I waited until she left before we finished our food.

My numbers were lower than usual for me. When I was taking the Nuelasta shot (white blood cell pumper), my white blood count was always from 8-10. Now that I was on Taxol, I don't have to take the Nuelasta shot, and my counts were as low as 2.44 one week after treatment and on the day of chemo I was still only 4.2. The doctors and nurses keep an eye on that because if you fall at about 2.0 you can be neutropenic (Neutropenia is a blood disorder characterized by an abnormally low number of a type of white blood cells called a neutrophils. Neutrophils usually make up 50-70% of circulating white blood cells and serve as the primary defense against infections by destroying bacteria in the blood. Hence, patients with neutropenia are more susceptible to bacterial infections and, without prompt medical attention, the condition may become life-threatening). Mine fall about a week after treatment and then start coming up. Dr. K doesn't seem worried about my numbers, but it has become an obsession with me, "What are my numbers? How do my numbers look? So am I doing okay? How are my numbers?" So far so good. I am suppose to stay away from sickies during my low period. It is hard, especially with my little ones that seem to leak from every orifice.

After checking my numbers, we started treatment. It went okay (boring) but that was about it.
There is no break-up of having the red drug put in during these treatments. It is one HUGE back of drug/saline and I end up having to pee about 6 times during the 3-4 hours it takes to finish the treatment. THAT is the most irritating part of the whole ordeal! I met a couple more newbies and gave them my blog, so if any of you are reading this, I hope your first cycle was kind to you. If it wasn't, know that you can make it through no matter how crappy you feel. If I can do it... you can do it!

After my treatment, I scheduled my LAST CHEMO TREATMENT!!! Can I hear an AMEN!!!!

My Mom, Dad and I drove home and then proceeded through out weekend. I did okay for most of the weekend. Chris let me sleep in so I that delayed the pain. I get the pain for more days now. It is intermittent pain. I will be sitting watching TV or working and then all of a sudden I will get a sharp pain wiz through my arm, or leg, rib, wherever, then it will sit there for a few minutes and then disappear. I was told by Dr. K that these are very normal Taxol pains. It is Wednesday today and just got a righteous one in my right arm, I stop a bit until it lets go....... And then type again.

But for the most part I'm doing okay.

For an update....
My hair is still....Gone. I haven't lost my eyelashes, but my eyebrows are thinning. My mom actually cut my dad's eyebrows in my kitchen, in my line of site, when they were finished and sat back on the couch, I accused my mom and dad of flaunting his eyebrow hair at me (hahaha).
I am thinking that after radiation I will let me hair grow back in and pray it comes in thick and curly like everyone says.

My fingers and toes go numb. That is freaky!! I grabbed my toe the other day and thought that I had a HUGE piece of sock fuzz in the middle of my toes. I grabbed my foot, tore off my sock and realized it wasn't sock fuzz, it was my actual toe!! I Couldn't feel it at all! CRAZY!!! That is normal too. As long as it is not all the time, I am okay. My fingers get numb sometimes and it is very hard to do things like button or buckle mine or the girls clothes.

My nails are lifting in different areas on my fingers. But I found that if I keep my nails short it is not so bad.

Hot Flashes!! Oh my goodness these are hell. I will be sitting there (minding my own business) and then WHAM!! I get a hot flash that has me ripping of my wig and fanning myself with it (okay I whip it off at home, I haven't gotten so brave as to go wig less at work). But they are really hard. At night it is the worst. Unless I take Tylenol PM when I go to sleep, I toss and turn for what seems like forever and then during the night I will wake up sweatin' bullets and have to take off my covers, then about 10 minutes later I have to put them back on because I am freezing. This goes on at least 8-10 times a night. AARRRGGHHH!!!

But for now, that is about it. I am actually doing pretty good. I even washed the car on Memorial Day! It was so nice to be in the sun and spend some time with my family. I try really hard to not make a big deal about this hole cancer thing with the girls. My three year old will occasionally ask my why I am "Bote" and I tell her Mommy is sick, but Iam getting better and my hair will grow back. She will usually finish the sentence with, "Just like mine."

Yes, sweetie.... Just like yours.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Scheduling Follow-up Appointments

I called this morning to make an appointment for a follow up with my surgeon (the breast surgeon, I need to see her every six months). At my last appointment, they told me that they start making appointment for August on May 1st. Okay, so I didn't want to look like a freak and call on May 1 at 8am, so I called today. I mean really Aug is 3 months away, right?

So... NO FRIGGIN' APPOINTMENTS!!! Not one!!! I can call back on June 1st (at 8am) to schedule for September.


Don't you realize that I have to have a 6 month appointment?

Do you know how many other people also need 6 month appointments? (Okay so she didn't exactly say this, but that is the way it sounded to me!!)

Well crap!!! This surgeon's office people really pisses me off. Nobody said we fill up quickly, so please call ON May first. My surgeon is, but damn it, it is ridiculous that I cannot get in for my 6 month follow up, really ridiculous. At this point I don't want to change because she knows my case (and boobs) so well at this point.

So I will call back on June 1st at friggin' 7:59am!!!!

I was able to make my follow-up mammogram for August 18th though, they weren't full...

Welcome to the next 5 years of my life. Cancer Sucks!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now, The Rain Is Gone.....

May 13, 2009

Wow, I had my last Taxol last Thursday and there are only 2 more left!!!! I know that so many of you are jumping up and down with me!!! Thank you, I can hear your hoorays and fist pumps from here!

My treatment weekend wasn't so bad. Chris let me sleep in both days, my parents helped with the kids and so I never really got that hellish leg pain. I had some pain, but definitely better than the previous chemo session.

I think the biggest change is knowing that I only have 2 more session left (4 more weeks) really makes me feel .... what is the word I am looking for? Sunny? Smiley? Excited? I finally feel like I can get through this!! I just feel lighter in my chest. I feel like the sun is shining on me and I am finally warm. This might not make sense, but it feels good. It has been so rough and so dark for me for the past couple of months, that I feel good (mentally). YES!!!!!

So BRING ON the next treatment (May 21), I am ready for you!! I think I might have figured you out chemo!!! Yeah, I've got your number!!!

So jump with me and whoop it up!! We are almost there!!! Almost there!!!!

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)Sun-Shiny day.
I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin?
forIt’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)Sun-Shiny day.
Look all around, there’s nothin but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin but blue skies
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my wayGone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)Sun-Shiny day. - Johnny Nash

Thursday, May 7, 2009

6 Down 2 more to go!!

May 7, 2009

I had my 2nd Taxol treatment (6th treatment total) today. It went well, it is just LONG. We got started about 12:30pm and got done at 4:30pm. My Mom and my Dad came from Oklahoma for the text two chemo sessions. I have been so tired lately and cannot sleep through the night. But today, I ended up drifting off for about an hour while in the chemo chair.

The last treatment was hard, but I didn't have Nuelasta and I didn't have to take all the nausea drugs so my head was clearer. The pain was still harsh and since my head was clear, I felt it clearer. The pain was different, mostly severe growing pains in the muscle and bones in my hips, legs, and feet. I couldn't tell you if it was better or worse, just different. The pain last longer each treatment, my oncologist tells me that that is normal because the chemo is accumulative.

But you know what? I am getting through it. I know that it will hurt, but I have lived through it so far and I'm still here. Still fighting. I am still smiling (okay, most days). I tear up when I see other women finish there chemo treatments and leave with their tiara, and my heart hurts for the women that are just starting.

Okay, updates for me?
I still have eyebrows and eyelashes (that is always good).
I still have all my finger and toe nails.

I think that was about it.


I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their loving thoughts, prayers, cards and gifts. You all have given me so much love and support that I need (some days... desperately need).
Thank you so much!!!