I skipped a week keeping everyone up to date. I know that many of you have been reaching out to find out if I am ok. All is well, it was just a bit challenging trying to manage all the symptoms that are starting to accumulate. And since I was not sure what the out come in week 7 would be, I just sort of skipped it to try to have more to tell you.
I should have known that one of the most challenging symptoms would be dry scaly skin, no one mentioned it to me, and it was not top of mind with everything else going on. I have a rash on my arms that has developed slowly over the last few weeks. Of course, week 7 & 8 were the weeks that it decided to become somewhat inflamed. In addition, my hands have severe eczema and my face is so dry and scaly that no lotion works. An hour after I apply the lotion it feels like nothing happened. The area around my eyes felt like I had scratched it they were so irritated. Thanks to me PEO sisters, the face wash and cream they found was able to do the trick. After applying three times a day for a few days, I was able to fix my face for the time being. And my oncologist recommended using a cortisone cream for my arms to repair and reduce the inflammation on my arms. All of this took a few days to a week to get under control.
Tip for anyone reading this: If you know of someone starting Chemo of any kind, 80 – 90% of chemo patients have skin issues. Lotions do not work. You need to find a good cream meant for chemo and radiation. I also recommend you start using it as soon as you start treatments. This will help prevent/minimize some of the challenges most patients experience.
The most concerning of symptoms was the neuropathy did not reduce or stabilize with the lower dose of Taxol in week 7. During the week after treatment I started experiencing a spread of the numbness to the pads of my fingers as well as pain in my arms and hands. One of the nights I also experienced pains in my legs and tingling/numbness in my feet over night. After discussion with my oncologist we decided to complete the 8th week of treatment, then assess the best course of action. So right now, I am watching and waiting to see what happens this week. So far I have only had numbness in my finger tips the first few days after treatment. Then today I have experienced an advancement of the neuropathy to my finger pads. I have not had any continuation of pain or numbness in my legs or feet. Right now, we are on a wait and see if I continue with Taxol and Herceptin for the remaining 4 weeks or however long I can go, or switch to Herceptin only.
I also managed to catch a cold this week. The morning after treatment I woke up with a scratchy throat and very stuffed nose. I was hopeful that I just needed water to lubricate my throat and blow my nose a lot because it was due to allergies. Not so. The runny nose and sore throat lingered for a few days and by the end of the week was on the downhill side. But it has been a wake-up call about how the build up of chemo is compromising my system. I made the very hard decision to not attend an event due to the numbers of people that would be attending. I am a people person, so that is hardest part of this experience.
But do not be sad for me, I am filling my time with reading, movies, cooking and exercising. I have lost 30 pounds since beginning of January. During chemo treatments so far, I have leveled off due to the drugs in my system, but I really feel good. Going to a mainly plant based diet made all the difference. And I have to say, I do not have cravings, I am fully satisfied after every meal. I do not have an urge to snack during the day unless my funky stomach comes back, and I need to make sure it has something in it. Thanks to acupuncture, I have not had a seriously nauseated stomach since week three. For those interested in learning more about the plant-based diet and why I chose to go this route search out the book, “China Study; edition two.”
Speaking of food my first week of the CSA Lancaster Farm Fresh delivery will be Tuesday. There will be way too much food for me, so look out for an invitation to a dinner at my house where we will have the pleasure of learning how to cook in a plant-based diet world by a local vegan/vegetarian chef. I am determined that my friends and family will not have to take this route to getting healthy and avoiding any form of cancer.