Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chemo #5-Starting Taxol and Herceptin

So I'm 11 days out from my 5th chemo and I just started to feel back to normal a few days ago....this chemo was NOT nearly as bad as the past ones, and when I say bad, I mean I had no nausea this time around.  But it was traded for some bone pains and bruising. 

 I do have to say though I' happy that I managed to have "another chemo bite the dust"!!!

breast cancer, chemo #5, chemotherapy, taxol, herceptin, another one bites the dust

I have to admit I was a tiny bit nervous about starting the downward slope of my chemo. My fifth treatment involved the oh so very sad (can you sense my sarcasm?) end of Adriamycin and Cytoxin and starting Taxol and Herceptin. I was mostly nervous because I've heard a lot of different stories about the pain that people feel in the days following their treatment. I was also nervous because I finally just figured out my "routine" of anti-nausea meds, combined with Claritin. I knew which days I was going to feel like crap and which I was going to feel better and how long it would take me to get back to "normal". I had it down to a system and was nervous that the Taxol would throw me completely off my game. And it did.

The day of my treatment the hubs and I met my mom at the hospital, went back to the Infusion area and got all settled in for the five or so hours we thought....emphasize on thought...we were going to be there. My favorite nurse Lara was there and we were all laughing, joking, then soon my favorite chemo part-ay girl Kelly came in and it definitely helped pass the time! For some reason the pharmacists back in the pharmacy must have been taking their mid-morning naps because it felt like FOREVER for mine as well as Kelly's meds to be brought up to us...but finally, the moment I was waiting for came and I got the Taxol party started! Lara started out by giving me some Benadryl into my IV, which completely hit me like a TON OF BRICKS! I felt it instantly. My entire body was so tired. It's like when you know when you've gotten to that point in the night when you've had probably one too many shots, or one too many cocktails and you are ready to pass out and you can't keep your eyes open. That was pretty much me, minus the drinks and add some Benadryl. The only thing holding me back was that I was SO hungry and the hubs was going to be back soon with some food. Some how, some way I managed to stay awake long enough to eat something, then I was out.

The day was mostly a blur to me, but from what I remember they gave me the Benadryl to help me if I were to have an allergic reaction to the meds. Once I got started on the Taxol, they told me it normally takes around three-ish hours to administer it, but wanted to slow it down the first time in case there was an allergic reaction. Which I didn't have. I slept...and slept...and snored...and slept. Then woke up and it was ready for the Steroids and then the Herceptin and it was also over four, probably closer to five hours later... wow. I know.

I'm receiving Herceptin treatments every other week for these last four treatments, then every three weeks after my chemo is done due to me being HER2+ A. The Herceptin normally takes around 30 minutes on a good day to administer, mine took about an hour. But on a good note, I had no allergic reactions and they gave me a double dose of steroids that day in between the Taxol and Herceptin, so I felt like a million bucks. The downer side of that day was that we got there around 9:15AM and didn't get out of there till after 5:00PM!!!! But I'm told the rest won't be that long. Usually these treatments can take around four-ish hours. I hope.

So once we were done the hubs and I went home. I felt fine, we ate, watched TV and went to bed. The next morning I was waiting for it. I was waiting to feel like crap, but it wasn't anything like the previous treatments. I didn't feel nauseous, I didn't feel sick, I didn't feel like I hit a brick wall, which I'm figuring it is all from the steroids. I was still tired though. The hubs drove me to the hospital to get my Neulasta (white blood cell booster) shot and we went home.  I was thinking for a split second "man, I have this in the bag if this is how it's going to be!"

Fast forward to around 7:00PM that evening. I had made a pizza and As I was washing my hands with luke warm water my hands instantly felt like I had put them in boiling water. I felt like I had blisters ALL over my hands and the tips of my fingers were extremely red. So doing what I do best, I freaked out. Thank God the hubs was there because he calmed me down. I also put two and two together and realized that I was also complaining all day to the hubs that I felt like I had blisters on my feet and thought it was weird because I haven't worn heels, or anything that would cause blisters in over a month. So we checked my feet and I had a deep crack where my toe meets my foot, along with extreme sensitivity. At the same time we both noticed that on my left hand I had this deep purple bruising under my skin where my thumb meets my hand. And the weirdest part was that we literally watched the bruise form on my right hand. We frickn' literally watched it grow.

taxol, chemo, neulasta, bone pain, bruising, sensitivity, neuropathy, breast cancer, chemo #5, chemotherapy,

Most normal people probably would have gone to the hospital... but the hubs and I didn't and it actually worked out to our advantage. I didn't die. No allergic reactions. We saved $200 for the copay and no, I didn't turn into one huge bruise. Eventually over the next couple of days the bruising went down, but it was traded with dry skin. I feel like a crocodile and I feel like I've been showering in lotion. I called the next day, talked to the nurses and they confirmed that this is all part of the Chemo.

Then fast forward to around 11:00PM when my worst nightmare came true. I thought that people were bluffing or exaggerating the amount of pain they had while on the Taxol/Neulasta. Nope. The closest way to explain the pain is if you can remember growing pains? And no, not the TV show. If you can remember them, then its that kind of pain times 100. If you can't remember those pains, then try to imagine someone hitting you with a baseball bat up and down your legs and into your back and up to your neck. Yup. That pretty much explains it. And Advil/Tylenol/Ibuprofen etc did not work for me. I finally decided to try a pain pill. And I threw it up. So that obviously didn't help my pain. I managed to work it out with my doctor to get it managed with a little help from my friend Vicodin. Thanks Vicodin, you are the best!

I know some people may say that my pain was from the Neulasta shot. I don't believe so. I've had four of them and experienced SOME discomfort from it, but nothing compared to this. Trust me. I have the hubs as my witness for this one. Although my pain with this first Taxol/Herceptin treatment was a "little uncomfortable" aka felt like I was hit by a train in the days following my treatment, I would take that discomfort over the nausea and overall crappy feeling I had with the Adriomycin and Cytoxin. I've got Chemo #6 coming up in a few days and I'm kind of excited to be ONE MORE CLOSER to dominating this!!

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