My treatment plan is not a quick fix plan that’s for sure. It goes like this:
Chemotherapy; 4-6 months of the meanest chemo modern science can dish out (so I’m told)
Mastectomy surgeries – yes, that would be both breasts just to make sure…
Radiation Therapy – 6 weeks of radiation – every day except for Sat. & Sun.
Reconstructive Surgery – this is where they try to put you back together again
Chemotherapy – 1 more year of Herceptin, the biologically targeted chemical that chases down the microscopic cancer.
So I make it through the first day of chemo and I actually think it’s not so bad. I am taking nausea medications and a steroid for a few days so I have a false sense of what is really happening in my body. Day four is the real deal and I feel terrible! I can feel my blood cells dying off as my skin does strange things. My hands and feet are red and swollen and I have a shrill ringing in my ears that never lets up.
By day six I wake up to a sore throat and sinus congestion. My allergies are out of control. It’s the weekend and the on-call doctor gets me started on an antibiotic.
By Sunday I am in the hospital. It started the day before. I started having these muscle spasms and shortness of breath and my face is red. We go to the emergency room and the doctor there assesses that I am allergic to the Compazine I have been given for nausea. They give me an IV of Benadryl and Lorazapan. It takes at least an hour to calm the spasms down, so they give me more medications and I fall asleep. I vaguely remember Monty putting me in the car in the early morning hours, but its 3:30pm, the next afternoon when I awake fully. No more Compazine for me.
The next Monday I have an Oncology appointment. I see the MA. The girl has no bedside manner and is cold and bored. I tell the appointment desk never to book me with her again. They take my blood and inform me my white blood cells are in the “negative” levels. DUH! They give me a wonder shot that burns like hot syrup when it’s injected, but it is supposed to stimulate my bones to make white cells. I am warned that my bones are going to ache and they give me a prescription for the pain if it gets too bad.
I wake up Tuesday morning with a “thrush” infection in my mouth. It happens after taking antibiotics and having no white blood cells. I call the doctor and they prescribe another nasty drug.
On Wednesday my bones feel like they are trying to escape my body. I have never felt such pain. It feels like I am going to explode. I take the pain medication but I still ache and I sleep awful. The doctor prescribes something to help me sleep. I am so miserable.
I am mortified by the last week. How can I do this for long? I get mad and decide there is no way I am going to take drug after drug and break down my health and body like this without fighting back. So I go see my regular doctor and Jarrod (the PA) and we start fighting back. Jarrod phones me in a prescription for a mouthwash “swish & swallow Nystatin” that will handle the thrush infection without taking the harsh medication the other doc prescribed. I get a Vitamin B-12, folic acid and magnesium shot to restore my muscles.
Dr. Rodier says to do at least one sauna a day. I also eat a careful alkaline-based diet and start on Probiotics. This is intended to counter-act the acid the chemo creates in my body and will help with the nausea. The Probiotics will restore the healthy flora in my stomach. To keep up my strength I put together an exercise program that I can do every day. It is times like this I’m glad I married an athletic guy because we are fortunate to have a home gym and an infra-red sauna, both of which I rarely use and my husband uses faithfully. I have to change my ways.
I make an appointment for an acupuncture treatment and physical therapy for my aching bones, which have triggered muscle spasm in my back and legs. Then I go get a massage.
My message therapist tells me how to do some lymphatic massage on myself.
My physical therapist teaches me some stretches that will relieve the stress in the large muscle groups that are spasming from the medications.
I start every day this way:
Exercise and Stretches
Shower, use a body brush on my skin, lymphatic massage
Prayer, study and meditation
I am of course taking all my prescribed meds, vitamins, etc…
After three days of this routine I feel 100% better. My stomach settles down and I have more energy. By the time I am supposed to have another treatment I feel great. Not just OK, but I have fully recouped – hard to believe. When I show up for my appointment they take my blood and all my counts are super healthy, so it’s time to do it again.
I can’t believe this is my new life…