Yesterday was my first chemotherapy. So far so good. They gave me some benedryl first, which is supposed to lessen the possibility of being allergic to the drug, but it mainly made me sleepy. Blood is drawn from the same port where the chemo goes in, and that worked well. Also, the doctor ordered a bone-strengthening injection once a month while I'm doing chemo, and that was the most painful part of the whole process.
Talking to the doctor before the treatment began, we learned that he had again changed both the type of drug and the way it will be administered. When we had the chemo class the day before, the nurse said Dr. C had changed the plan from one treatment every three weeks to twelve weekly treatments. Yesterday he said it's going to be three weeks of treatment, then one week off, until I have all twelve. That takes us into June. That said, we will still assess as we go along to determine if that plan needs to be altered. It's going to be fluid (pardon the pun) and uncertain from now on. Like Lainie, the breast cancer survivor in my new book, I've decided to have cancer one day at a time.
Reading more about breast cancer, I learned that the type I have--inflammatory--is uncommon and rare in women my age. It almost made me feel special to learn that. However, when diagnosed, it's automatically at stage III or IV. That's not so special. From the PET scan we learned that mine has been seeding other sites as well--my right shoulder blade, left public bone, lower sternum, and liver have cancer spots, in addition to the breast itself and nearby lymph glands. (Fortunately it hasn't gone to heart or brain.) When chemotherapy attacks those spots, it actually strengthens the bone. What that all means is that we can kill a lot of the cancer with chemo and manage the rest. Surgery is still likely--but maybe not until June--as is more chemo, and radiation isn't out of the picture for later on, but that will depend on how the chemo works. I feel confident as the Utah Cancer Clinic has a close working relationship with the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City.
One outcome of the change in the chemo attack plan is that this drug doesn't have so many side effects. I'll still lose my hair and be tired a lot, and may get mouth sores, but I'm hoping to avoid the vomiting and diarrhea that plague so many cancer victims. Having a one-week break after every third treatment will be helpful I'm sure.
In other good news, the cellulitis on my legs has stopped weeping with the Unna boot treatment. I will continue with that until the redness goes away. It's actually helping because Unna boots provide needed compression, but with the added bulk on my feet, I can't wear regular shoes. Tradeoffs!
Some very nice volunteers came around the clinic yesterday with Kneader's sandwiches at lunch time--heavenly--and then brought me a goodie bag that included bean bags I can heat in the microwave to warm my feet or neck, some soaps and lotions, and a lovely warm throw. I can put a hospital-heated blanket on and then the throw to preserve the warmth. I tend to be cold all the time--typically wear several layers of clothes--so this bit of thoughtfulness is especially appreciated. It's from a breast cancer survivor and her mother. People are just so nice!
Best news of the day: doctors at the fertility clinic have now transplanted two embryos, so it looks like we will have one of two more grandchildren by the end of the year. We are grateful for our brave son and daughter-in-law who have shown such courage through this process--and the Big Sister will be two in December.
I decided to put a wreath on my front door when I'm up to seeing visitors, so if you drive by and see the wreath, stop in and say hello.
And I think my book, What Took You So Long, may be out on the shelves wherever Deseret Books are sold. If you get one, bring it by and I'll sign it for you.