Week 4 - Taxol and Herceptin
This week I met with the Oncologist prior to the infusion. It was a good appointment that reinforced I am with the right doctor. Some of the concerning symptoms that I have had he was able to explain what was happening and calm any fear I was starting to have. For example: I was having intermittent pain on the left side of my chest along with lower right jaw pain. Since Herceptin can affect the heart and women can present with heart problems with pain in their jaws, I was concerned. He was able to explain that because I was having this pain many hours after exercising it was presenting as the normal aches and pains that Taxol can create. So, heart problem not likely. Whew! The doctor also told me that changes in the barometric pressure is also felt by Chemo patients more intensely, so that would explain why week three was more difficult and more intense.
Again, the infusion was uneventful. But symptoms are building. My hair is shedding. Those that look at me do not see it immediately, but I know it is happening because there is hair all over my house. To help try to not loose it all, I am caring for it very gently. I might get lucky and only thin, but I have 8 weeks to go, so I am not holding out too much hope. This will likely be the most emotionally impactful, because I will be reminded what is happening in my life every time I look in the mirror. As of right now, I can go hours or days and be able to just carry on and treat the doctor appointments as just meetings on the schedule of my life.
The other concerning symptom I have developed over the last two weeks is the start of neuropathy in my hands. This is when your hands get weak, you get the dropsies and can also cause numbness in the finger tips. It can be temporary or permanent it just depends on the patient. I started getting shots of numbness in my fingertips. I discussed this with my oncologist. He has asked me to record what I feel, when I feel it, and for how long. This will give him the information to manage the likelihood it is advancing to far for me to recover from neuropathy. Permanent neuropathy would change my life completely, I would no longer be able to play the violin, which has become a big part of my social life and a major stress reliever.
I again went to acupuncture this week. I mentioned the symptoms I am having including the start of nephropathy. It was reinforced I am receptive. The treatment retarded the symptoms of neuropathy. I am still feeling hand weakness and nerve shots in my hands if I try to twist off a top on a jar, but I have not had any more numbness in my fingertips. I cannot recommend acupuncture more for what ails you. It does not work for everyone, but when it works, what a difference it makes.
I also had an initial consult with the Radiologist Oncologist I will be treated by after the 12 weeks of chemo. All I can say is Philly is really a small town. I found out that he is a graduate of my high school four years earlier than I. I really liked him, he was very informative, and listened and heard me. It confirmed I made the right decision with my care.
This week my cousin came down from Boston for a visit. It was nice to see her and be able to visit and take time to just talk. I got her out on my walks and she was able to meet some of you too. The pattern is still about a day and a half starting Thursdays that I am most affected by nausea. I am managing with food, warm water, sleep and getting out walking. But my system is more sensitive, and I really must eat and sleep on schedule, or I pay the next day or two. I am still doing well over all, and able and needing movement to keep back the fatigue.
It is finally turning to spring. Let’s hope we have a spring rather than jump immediately to summer. I would like to inspire everyone to get out and move; it could be bike riding, walking, hiking in the mountains, or getting to the gym. If you would like to join me walking, text, or email me to make it happen. I will probably start attending Hathe Yoga classes at the YMCA in the coming weeks, you are welcome to join me. Once I am past these 12 weeks, and recovering from the chemo, I will be trying to get up into the mountains to hike.
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Lesley is an adventurous, musical and happy person that has been diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer.