Happy Cancer Girl

A Happy Girls Journey with Cancer

My Chemo Cocktail

on April 3, 2013

I have a spare hour so I thought I would finally write another post to keep my awesome followers/supporters up to date on what is going on with me. I needed some kidlet time so I went to my parents last week so I could spend time with Karston and Marlee (my sister’s children). For me it seems that no matter how bad I feel, or how sad I am the faces of the children that I love always picks me back up and gets me on my feet. I was a little down last week because I have found the back and forth between my Halifax surgeon and my Saint John oncologist to be extremely frustrating. Spending time with the kids didn’t change my situation but it did help me forget about it for a while. I was also able to have an early Easter dinner with my parents which was really nice.

*Side note – I am currently at Starbucks and am sure that the girl sitting beside me just moved to the other side of the room because I am typing too loud!!!

I returned back home in time to spend a couple free days with Owen, which was also really needed. He has been working really long hours, so most of our time together lately has been spent at the hospital. The weather was wonderful so we were able to spend time with our neighbours (we’re kind of like the Cul-du-sac Crew on Cougar Town with much less wine) and we also had a lovely Easter dinner with the Addison’s (thanks guys it was greatly appreciated).

Monday brought rain and a 24 hour urine collection (yup it’s as gross as it sounds). I couldn’t really go anywhere because I wasn’t about to bring along a jug of pee and a gross plastic hat to collect it in. I had to go to the hospital again yesterday to hand in my urine and get more blood work done. Once I got there I was told the doctor wanted to see me. Never a good sign! Turns out the oncologist talked with my surgeon and the surgeon and her team of oncologists have recommended two chemo drugs for me, carboplatin and taxol.

I will now have chemo every 21 days which will consist of both drugs and then once a week with just taxol. For the next 20 weeks I will be connected to poison that will hopefully kill any tiny cancer cells left in my body. Unfortunately with chemo it comes with a whole host of side effects that are mostly short term but will probably suck while my body is drinking up the chemo cocktail.

Very likely side effects that I will experience are:

Risk of infection – This is really important, or will really impact my life as time goes on. The carboplatin reduces your number of white blood cells. White blood cells fight infection and because of this I will have to monitor my temperature and will have to go to the hospital if I have a fever of 38C or above. I have a card that I have to carry to give to the ER staff if I go to the hospital with a fever after hours, that way I will get in to see a doctor in a timely manner.

Bruising and Bleeding – The drugs will also impact my platelets which help your blood to clot. So no contact sports and I need to be careful when handling sharp objects. If you know me personally you know that this is going to be an issue for me. I am clumsy! I fall on ice often (thankfully winter is over), I drop knives almost every time I use one and I get paper cuts more often then not! I will have to learn to be a little more careful with my body.

Nausea and Vomiting – I think this may be a side effect of all chemo drugs. I have been given steroids to take before I go in for my taxol treatments, to help with the pain and I will also be given drugs to help control the nausea and vomiting.

Fatigue – I will likely be tired, but I hope that short walks in the fresh air will help with this.

Hair loss – It’s true…in a couple weeks I won’t have any hair. I have hats and scarves and I may get a wig, but because it is going to start getting warmer around here I’m unsure about the wig. I’m already warm because of menopause I don’t think fake hair on my head would help cool me down any. I think I’m ok with the hair loss as I have had months to prepare for it. It sucks a little that last week the doctor said I wouldn’t lose my hair and this week I was told I would, but I will lose my hair for the extended living I will get to do.

Sore mouth – There is a chance my mouth will be sore, or get sores. Thankfully I drink a lot of water so this should help.

Diarrhoea and Constipation – Yup, both…gross! However I hope that it can be controlled by eating the right types of food. I know they have drugs to help, but if I can control it on my own naturally that will be much better for me.

Numbness in hands and feet – This is caused by taxol. People get pins and needles in their hands and feet and this is one of the most concerning side effects to me. This is one of the side effects that can be long term, but in most cases the pins and needles goes away a few months after treatment is complete.

Pain in joints and muscles – This is also caused by taxol and the pain usually lasts for a few days after treatment and then goes away.

The drugs are hard on your kidneys and because of that there is lots of blood work done to make sure your kidneys are functioning properly.

So this is what I am up against. I will be at the hospital a lot over the next four months, chemo treatments, doctors appointments and lots and lots of blood work. On the plus side I won’t need to have any hair appointments or take time in the shower to shave my legs!

My free hour is just about up, I have a jam packed day. I had a nice visit with Bruce this morning, my hour to write this post, lunch with friends and then off to St. Stephen to get Owen’s taxes done and St. Andrews to drop of medical documents. Tomorrow I get to go back to the hospital..yay me! But this afternoon will mostly be driving in the car…that means music!

6 responses to “My Chemo Cocktail

  1. sherry kirkpatrick morton says:

    Wow Renee I think you should have considered Nursing you give great nursing notes.I’ve learned more about cancer( treatments ) and their side effects through you than anything I’ve read.
    I’m so sorry for all you have had to endure and what is to come your way.

    It sounds like you got just what you needed from your kidlet visit and I know those thoughts will come back just when you need them.I remember the times when I was coming home from a particularly hard day at work I’d stop in to see Hayden and all that stuff would just vanish away.

    I just had a thought keep a bottle of hand sanitizer and kleenex around just in case someone comes to visit that has any sign of a cough or cold or just politely ask them to leave as this time in your life it really is all about you and your well being, duh as if you don’t have your Mom and Owen around to protect you LOL.

    Love you Auntie Sherry

  2. Hi RENEE, well u give information on your blog will help a lot of people out, just wish could do more to get u through this, you don,t deserve this punishment,that ur gettin ready to face, but ur are one of the strongest young ladies out there and I know u will get through it you got a great family will be there every step of the way with you and u got a pile of people out there pulling for u,to give u a push when ever u start feeling down,and u have some great friends behind u also and I am one that will do my best to cheer u up when ur down, and am still praying for u to get through all this stuff but look on the bright side you will be just fine, and u got a very long life ahead of u and thats why I know deep down you will be alright, u are a very very strong young lady and from what Ive read u got a great hubby that will be there right by your side,all the way till u get done with all your treatments,but gonna let u go and stay in touch,afa lee ann,xoxoxoxo good luck Renee thoughts and prayers for you where ever you are .and all u do.

  3. goldeygrad97 says:

    Hey lady! Just catching up with this one. I’ll give you some “insider” information to the cocktail of which you are about to “enjoy” – I never had diarrhea with either drug. I did, however, get constipated as all get out. I recommend getting your doc to write you a script for a stool softener – the over the counters didn’t cut it.

    I only got sickie sickie feeling if I didn’t take my Zofran & Compazine. Get a script for them. They are LIFE SAVERS. You will still feel like crap but won’t be puking up your newly sewn back together insides. And believe me, you will appreciate that. Take them as scheduled – don’t wait until you THINK you need them – by then it will be too late. I didn’t really throw up much until the end of my treatments when my body was too weak to pull itself together. (Everyone is different and your mileage may vary!)

    Numbness in the hands and feet are what they are really looking out for with taxol. I never had it. But your oncologist will ask you every appointment, so pay attention to it. It’s a serious side effect.

    You will feel “ok” the day of chemo. It’s the two days after that are going to be stinky. And things will. not. taste. good. Make sure you follow your recommended chemo diet – keep up your iron because you WILL BE anemic. You will probably get a nasty metallic taste in your mouth and food will taste funny. It will go away.

    Hair loss – with taxol, it takes about 3 weeks before it starts falling out. In fact, like clockwork every sixteen days, I lost a good amount of hair for about a week. I initially cut it short, and then when it started falling out, I buzzed it. At least the summer is coming up. 🙂 Mine is already growing back in, and I didn’t lose it all. I had thick hair to begin with though. Oh, and when it does grow back, it may grown back in white at first – it’s because the pigment cells in your scalp are dead – the color should come back though. Best part, I haven’t had to shave my legs in months!

    When you go for your taxol – make sure they start it slowly. Many have a tendency to be allergic to it. Make sure they give you benedryl as part of your premeds.

    And ask about a port. Chemo is rough on the veins and by the end, they had a hell of a time getting an IV in me. They told me since I was only having six rounds, I wouldn’t need one, but I can tell you, after #4, it was supreme hell getting an IV in. I was in tears, the phlebotomist was in tears…it just wasn’t worth it. My veins are now shot thanks to chemo.

    You can do this!!!! MUAH to you girlfriend.

  4. Megan says:

    Oh Renee – I wish I could sit beside you during any of your chemo treatments or help take care of you afterwards!! It sounds like its going to be awful but I know you will get through it – you’re a strong woman who has lots of energy! I love you and hope we can connect by phone soon!

  5. Hi Renee, just thought I would drop you a line and wish you good luck tomorrow, hope you do good tomorrow after ur treatment, best of luck to you, thoughts and prayers for you , AFA Lee Ann, GOOD LUCK RENEE,TTUL,

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