So now that my second round of chemo is done, I have to say that the side effects have been exponentially worse than the first round. I am really trying to remain positive and keep my nose to the grind, but to be honest, so far this week has been a lot harder to do that.
The nausea has been worse, though I have been able to control it with the medication. The neuropathy has been way worse, including severity of the burning/tingling and the spreading of it. Last round I had it a little in my fingers and toes but this week it has been from about mid-palm down on both hands, pretty steadily.
Then there’s the cold sensitivity, which has been quite a bit worse. I found out that, even with socks on, my feet get cold on the bare floors in our house. Touching simple things like an interior door knob can set it off. And don’t even get me started about the cold weather and the wind right now, because it makes going outside a huge ordeal.
And, after all that, I can’t forget the fatigue. I have been feeling so tired and drained that I am fighting to make it through a full day of work without a nap. Today I worked for four hours and then came home and slept for three hours, and already I am ready to go to bed. I don’t really ache and my body doesn’t hurt, I am just so tired that I can’t stand it. The nausea also makes this worse because the medication that they gave me also makes me very tired.
I am going to keep pushing forward and I keep asking God to help me with all of this, but I have to be honest and admit that I am worried about what the next round will bring. If these side effects keep getting progressively worse each time, I am not sure how I am going to be able to work and live life.
So I have been seeing some minor hair loss the past few days, mostly just when I dry my hair in the morning. I use a white towel and my short dark hair has been steadily becoming more prevalent on the towel. To me, it’s the least important of the side effects, because I have kept my hair very short for close to the past couple of decades. At one point I even shaved my own head with a razor weekly, for over a year. When I go to Great Clips every other week to get my hair cut, they know to use the clippers with a 1 1/2 on the top and no guard on the sides, with a high fade.
When I went to get my hair cut this time, I happened to have my chemo pump attached, and I was immediately told by my stylist that she would pray for me. How cool is that?! Then, while she is cutting my hair, she informs me that Great Clips gives free haircuts to cancer patients in treatment! I was completely blown away. Such a simple little thing, but it meant so much to know that someone in upper management at Great Clips cares enough about cancer patients to roll this out company wide.
The name of the charity is Clips of Kindness and, after her own battle with cancer, Rhoda Olsen (CEO) started the charity in 2011. Because of this charity, all of the Great Clips locations around the world offer free haircuts to any cancer patient who is undergoing treatment. With everything going on in the world today it is so nice to see that, even during a difficult time in life like battling cancer, there are people out there who care enough to help others, even if they don’t personally know them.
Ironically I was so stunned by the situation that I left Great Clips and totally forgot to tip my stylist. However I ran over there today and dropped off her tip and apologized. At first she wouldn’t take it, and said that my haircut was free. But I insisted and told her that while I appreciated that, she still did a great job (as always) and deserved a tip.
And now I am going to tell everyone that I meet in the cancer sector, whether they be patients, doctors, nurses or anyone else, just how great Great Clips is and to take advantage of their generosity!
Tomorrow I go in for round two of my chemo and this time they’re adding Avastin to the mix. While this is not my first time for the chemo, it is for Avastin, and I am more than a little worried about what wonderful side effects that the Avastin will bring. Well, that and the fact that first time they do the Avastin, it takes an additional 90 minutes on top of the 3+ hours that I already have to be there for chemo.
I am also a little worried because a few people that I know who have gone through chemo have told me that the nausea and other side effects from chemo get worse as the treatments continue. There were a few days the week of my first treatment that I couldn’t get through any meals without taking my anti-nausea medicine, so the idea of it getting worse is not getting me all psyched up for my treatment tomorrow.
So far I have been getting off pretty lightly, I think, considering what I have heard from other people. But if it gradually gets worse as you go, that is going to suck big time. I know I don’t really have another choice, but it is making it harder to remain positive about the whole process.
This morning before I went to work I had an appointment at Flower Hospital for genetic counseling. When I got there I didn’t have a clue what that term meant, but I was quickly taught all about it. Genetic counseling is a family history with relation to cancer, and chemical/laboratory testing of both blood and saliva. The goal is to find specific markers in my DNA that may show a higher than normal likelihood that I may develop other types of cancer. They can even determine the type of cancer that I have a higher chance of getting. It can also help my children to know what they need to look for with their own health as they get older.
Instead of having Flower Hospital do it, I opted to go with a study being done through the Ohio State University, called the Ohio Colorectal Cancer Prevention Initiative. I did this partially because it doesn’t run through my insurance, and is free of charge. I also did it because, as a cancer patient, I want to help all of the organizations that I can to help other people get a jump on cancer. Lastly, I did it because if they find the DNA markers in my genes, which is known as Lynch Syndrome, the study will also perform the same tests on my biological children for free.
Then I went to work and got quite a bit accomplished, even with a short day. Now I am getting ready to head home to pick Tina up and we are going to meet Mark and Michelle at the Franklin Park Mall to watch Dr. Strange. I can already smell the popcorn 🙂
I woke up this morning and immediately thought, “hey, it’s your birthday!” Then I instantly thought, “what if this is your last one?” What a grim way to start a day, especially one that is supposed to be filled with happiness and celebration.
Then this afternoon I went and renewed my driver license, and the thought “I wonder if I’ll make it another four years to do this again” popped in my head. Yeah, the negative thoughts were still there, and apparently not ready to leave yet.
After work, all my kids and grandchildren came over to have cake and ice cream and celebrate my birthday. Again, those bad thoughts popped up when I thought to myself, “I wonder if I’ll be here to do this again next year.” I really can’t say where these thoughts were coming from, but they were getting old.
I’m sure my age had a little something to do with all of these crazy and depressing thoughts. But I think the biggest reason is of the cancer diagnosis. I am trying to remain positive and keep my head in the right place, but the fact that I am doing chemo is a not so friendly reminder of what I am really facing: my own mortality. And I have to admit that it scares me at times, some more so than others.
Today was a much better day. Of course my best laid plans to get a good night sleep failed, but that is my own fault for turning on the UFC Fight Night at midnight that I had recorded earlier in the evening. But even with about five and a half hours of sleep, I seemed to have a little more pep in my step when I woke up. Being almost a week out from starting chemo, and a few weeks out from my last surgery, I think my body is just feeling more healthy.
After picking Tina up from work I came home and watched a little TV, and then went to church, and heard a great message. After that I went to work for a quick minor emergency (DNS was failing on the LAN) and then ran to the store for some groceries. When I got back home I made myself a nice lunch of burritos and homemade queso dip, did some dishes and cleaned up the kitchen, and watched a movie with David (my youngest son).
Before long it was time to take Tina to work and then I came home and finished up the dishes and then went outside for almost an hour and got half of the back yard cleaned up with the leaf blower. After a quick shower I am getting ready to watch tonight’s The Walking Dead and try to get some sleep. So yeah, feeling better helped me to be more productive today, and it made me feel more like my old self.
Today has been another one of those days. I only slept for about 4 hours last night and did very little all day, other than an unproductive trip to Best Buy, watching some TV, and a pretty crappy nap. Here it is a little after 10:00 and I am sitting in bed typing this, and watching Suicide Squad. I am planning on trying to go to sleep about midnight, because I seem to keep waking up around 3:00 am and it is starting to get on my nerves.
I am hoping to get a solid night’s sleep tonight, so that I can be well rested and ready to go to church on Sunday. My faith is important to me and I could certainly use it while trying to kick this cancer. While on that subject, I’ve decided that tomorrow is the day that I am going to start the “read the Bible in a year” plan with the You Version app. I’ve always wanted to, and it just seems like something that I should get started on, considering my current health circumstances.
So I’m off to watch my movie and try to get some rest. With any luck, it’ll work out for me for once.
Just a quick note that I added my story, as related to cancer, to the site. You can read it here.
I got the chemo pump removed this afternoon and I have to say that it will be great to not have to lug it around with me every where I go. I am also glad that the first cycle is done and I didn’t have any real complications from it.
That said, I am definitely seeing a rise in the side effects. For the second day in a row, I have had to take anti-nausea medicine after eating around lunch time. I can’t drink anything that is even a little cold or my throat hurts from the cold sensitivity. I also found that I cannot hold anything cold or even wash my hands in anything less than warm water. So far my hair is intact, though that was never a big concern for me anyway.
Hopefully this is the worst of it, but I kind of doubt it, from everything that I have read and been told. But I’m not going to let it wreck my Thanksgiving, and I am going to fight my way through it and enjoy some good quality family time. Our oldest daughter, Susan, is cooking and having everyone over to their new house for dinner tonight, since her fiance, Zach, is working tomorrow. And tomorrow our oldest son, Mark, and his girlfriend, Michelle, are cooking and having everyone over to their house for dinner.
So I will not let this keep me down, especially since this year I not only don’t need to cook, but I’m getting TWO dinners out of it for free!
I have left the doctor office and received my bolus infusion of FOLFOX and am now carrying a
man purse satchel with another 48 hours of FOLFOX in the pump to go. So far, I haven’t had any nausea, which honestly scared me the most with my back issues, however I have already had the metallic taste in my mouth and also felt the cold sensitivity in my throat when drinking ice cold water. For the time being I have switched to room temperature water and have not had a repeat of that lovely side effect.
But, overall, things are going pretty good. At this point I am still planning to get out of work about 5:00 and head home so Tina and I can still make the concert tonight. Though I think I’ll be taking a dose of Compazine before I go, just to make sure I don’t get nauseous while at the concert.
Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers! Believe me, it has helped me tremendously!