Sunday, October 27, 2013

Done with Chemo!!! (End of week 2)

Well, I think it is time I share the good news of being done with chemo!!  My last day of actually receiving chemotherapy medicine was October 18, 2013.  Technically, I will not be done with the treatment until I see the doctor at the end of week 3, but since the process of healing has finally started we're treating it as done!

Below is  a picture with some of the nurses that treated me at the Westwood UCLA Hematology Oncology clinic.  These people are amazing - so sweet and helpful (although they scold patients when they need to!)

These pictures were taken the Friday that I had my port removed for the last time.  I was NOT sad to see it go!  My energy levels were pretty good at the time, and we brought Halloween-decorated cookies  as a thank you for the staff.  The weekend after the 6th round of chemo was probably the roughest, but  we were still in a celebratory mood.   The next Monday, we had a full car driving up to UCLA (Mom, husband, daughter, and I) since we decided to bring my daughter so that the nurses that had been taking such good care of us and asking about my daughter all the time could meet her.  She did great and of course put on a show for the staff (they would individually go out to the waiting area and say hi to her since the clinic is always so busy with patients).  These were good days, and I was very happy to share our excitement with them.

Since then, I've been at home recovering with low energy levels. Around the middle of week 2, I felt well enough to take over my daughter's morning routine, as long as I was careful about conserving energy.  Basically, I would be able to get her into high chair, have breakfast with her, and change her into a clean diaper and day clothes - but would then need to sit on couch with her for a bit (reading or watching a show) before I caught my breath and felt well enough to pick her up and get her in carseat before driving her to daycare.  Then after parking, taking her out of the car, carrying her up steps to daycare, I would need to sit down or just wait a few minutes before attempting the drive back.  However, I find it well worth it so that I can spend time with her and have fun in the mornings, I just drive home and take it easy (or take a nap) afterwards!

I've been getting a lot of questions about what the next steps are.  The good news is that my oncologist is still confident that I won't need radiation.  I have an appointment next Friday to have all my blood counts checked to make sure that my body is recovering as it is supposed to, and we will also discuss more long term plans then.  For now, it sounds like I won't have another PET scan (to confirm cancer is gone) until 3 to 6 months from now.  We will be discussing when to take out my port-a-cath, which we might be doing in December - which was a shock to me, I expected I might need to keep the port in for 1 or 2 years.  I am expecting to go back to work mid December, although it is too early to make concrete plans.  In the next couple of days, I expect the residual bone pain to go away.  In the next couple of weeks, I hope that the mouth sores and mouth pain will go away, that my taste buds will start to come back, and possibly to start seeing some hair growth!  While the neuropathy (numbness) in my right hand has started to be alleviated, it might take months to a year to all go away.  Finally, the hazy brain that has been driving me crazy (I rely on my good memory too much to lose it!) will take an indeterminate time to go away.  My husband and work friends like to remind me that I worried about my brain not working well when I was pregnant and returned to work after having a baby - and that it did come back just fine - so I just have to give that time and try to be patient.  If anyone is wondering, "chemo brain" feels 10 times worse than "pregnancy brain" in terms of forgetfulness!!

Ok, I think that is a long enough blog post, even if I have been absent for a while (and I'm starting to feel nauseus from the computer usage - something else I hope will go away soon!)  There's some chemo-related tips I want to post later, I keep a running things of things I wish I had known about or better understood when I was first starting out that I want to write down. 

Thank you again for all your support.  I feel truly lucky and blessed to be able to write about the end of my chemo treatment and how I am cancer-free. :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Greetings from chemo chair (final round, day 4!)

The motion sickness is tougher this round, as expected, but the IV anti nausea meds they give me at infusion center offer some relief, enough to catch up on some emails, Facebook, and write a quick blog entry!

We had Pei Wei for dinner 2 nights ago, and check out the awesome fortune I got! :)

We are counting down the days till this chemo round (and the rough days after) are DONE!  I'm excited to plan my last day at the infusion center, and bring some thank you notes and treats for the doctor and nurses.  I'm also looking forward to bringing my daughter over to say hi (during treatment I've gotten to talk to the nurses a lot, and they have been wanting to meet her)!

Can't wait to share the good news with all of you too!

So, what's supposed to happen?
Last day of chemo: Friday
Last Hell-ish weekend
Last day of treatment: Monday
We probably won't be celebrating much till Monday/Tuesday to give me time to feel better!!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Final round starts tomorrow!!!

Well, I just realized my last post never uploaded.  That goes to show how much less attention and time I'm giving to the computer!  Good news is I've been feeing pretty good. As I've mentioned, each round is tougher on both mind and body.  I haven't gotten to do as much fun stuff in between rounds this time, but that's ok because the end of treatment is near!
I hadn't posted this picture from round 5, it's from the chemo chair - they had donated hats that they give away to patients, and I really appreciated this one on a particularly cold morning at the infusion center.

Round 6, my final chemo round, starts tomorrow and I am both very excited to get it DONE - but also very apprehensive about the 2 awful weeks ahead of me.  I'll keep thinking about the end goal, that's the important part.  It's also pretty exciting and terrifying to think that soon I'll be done with chemo and can start working on getting better.  I'm looking forward to having my taste buds back, the prednisone swelling to go down, the numbness in my hands and feet to go away, the hair to grow back, the night sweats to go away...

I might post during the week, but the countdown to being done with chemo is about ready to start!  Reminder that I don't consider being "done" with a round until I'm past the miserable days - that means day 8 or 9 after beginning of chemo - as nice as it is to be unplugged from the pump, it takes days to feel like myself again!

I went out to lunch with some good friends recently, and found this decorative block at a post-food stroll tnrough the bookstore.  I loved the message and wanted to share...

Thank you all again for your continued support, can't wait to let you done when I'm done.  Until then, I'll continue trying to learn "to dance in the rain". :)

I'm finally calling round 5 done

Well, it seems each chemo round is tougher to get over.  I imagine that's why everyone says the effects are cummulative, it is just odd when you kind of know what to expect and then it changes.  The good news is that I'm feeling good!  The bad news is that my list of symptoms and side effects keeps growing!

It feels like I'm writing this post later than I should, because I've now started feeling like myself for a whole 24 hours.  Part of my problem with the chemo side effects is that while I feel sick, I keep thinking of things I should do, or would like to do, or will do as soon as I feel better.  When I finally feel better, I do too much too quickly and get chastised by my husband for using up my energy.

I'll do a quick catchup of what's been going on.  I have now lost all eyebrows and eyelashes, but have thankfully mastered the art of faking them with makeup (or so I tell myself!).  It seems like the taste buds went away faster this time, which means almost everything once again tastes like vinegar or cardboard.

On Monday I got the neulasta shot, and felt pretty lousy with stomach issues and nausea until Tuesday afternoon, when I felt well enough to spend some time outside with the little one, my mom and husband.  We got to play with chalk in the front path, and it was a lot of fun (especially since all I had to do was sit and draw!). Last night was the "lost" night I generally have where I'm too wound up to sleep, and today I left the house for a late lunch and errands with my Mom - and I drove!

I'm feeling adventurous enough to make some plans for the weekend.  The priority between now and next chemo is to have some fun and stay healthy so that I can finally be done with the treatment and start recovery!

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31 year old navigating life with husband and almost-2-years-old daughter :)