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Today is a Struggle

I had my fourth and final AC chemo Tuesday afternoon. For the most part, things went well for the first two days. In the first three treatments, I came home and slept for days….this time that did not happen. I was able to sit among my family and visit as well as have dinner with them the last three nights, but today has been a struggle.

With the AC chemo, your immune system takes a huge hit. Your body can’t produce the needed white blood cells to fight normal infections. For this reason, a shot is given 24 hours after the chemo infusion to promote bone marrow to produce white blood cells. The auto-injector is put on and exactly 27 hours after being initiated it injects the needed medication. I believe this injection is what makes me feel so horrible. Yes, the chemo is bad, but this medication is no joke. I know it is absolutely neccessary. Without it my white blood counts would be nonexistent and I would be in the hospital under strict isolation to avoid any germs whatsoever, but I sure wish it didn’t make me feel like I had been hit by a truck.

Becuase it is promoting bone marrow to function there is joint and bone pain. I take a steroid and clariten a few days prior through a few days after the injection to supress those side effects. For the most part it works. I am weak, but not in bone or joint pain. My main complaint is that it also affects my lymphatic system. The lympth nodes in my neck get very sore and swollen. It hurts to even hold my head up at times. Swallowing is difficult and for that reason I don’t have much of an appetite.

Tonight after eating dinner I had a meltdown. I hate feeling so yucky. I don’t like crying in front of my kiddos so I waited until they were all out of the room and looked at Chris and simply said, “I’m not okay.” He said, “I know, but your full of toxic right now, it will get better in a day or so.” I know he’s right, but it doesn’t make this moment easier.

We did talk and celebrate at dinner the fact that this is hopefully the last time I will ever have to go through this feeling. That this is the low of the valley and we are headed up the hill now. I got a bit emotional and so did Isaac, but it is okay for all of us to cry if that’s what we need to do.

I just put Eli to bed and I am heading to bed myself. Sleep has been hard (thanks to all the steroids in me) but my new favorite Pluto channel, The Price is Right, will keep me company until sleep finds me.

AC Chemo is Done!!

I am so happy to say we can check off another box on the cancer treatment to-do list. Today I received my fourth and final AC chemo!

Today’s treatment was a bit different. I forgot to apply the lidocaine cream that numbs the area around my port. It was worried how bad them accessing the port would be. My anxiety was high and my heart was racing (135 beats per minute). The nurse told me it shouldn’t be too bad, but that she had also never experienced it. I have a fairly high tolerance for pain l, but I was still nervous. The infusion nurse counted down and said “here comes a big poke”. It didn’t hurt any worse than having my blood drawn or a shot. I had worried for no reason! Whew, that part was over. Then an issue arose with my port. In order to start the anti-nausea medication they have to get a flash of blood out of my port. They couldn’t get it to work. Two nurses and arranging myself in several different positions later we finally got it to corporate. There was concern I would need a different medication to remove blockages and kick start my port. That would have added an hour to my time in e infusion chair and there was not enough time before closing to do it all. I might have to reschedule. Thankfully, the nurses kept trying until they were successful and the infusion was able to begin! 90 minutes later I was done and headed to get some Tacos, it is Tuesday, and now I’m preparing for bed.

The next few days will be rough, but I know that there is happier healthier days ahead.

I will take my usual two weeks and then start my next chemo drug, Taxol. I will have weekly infusions for 12 weeks. The side effects should be much less severe.

Below is a picture of me today while waiting to see the doctor. I am smiling, but the darn masks is in the way!

Bye-Bye Hair. See You Soon!

When I started chemo they told me that two weeks after the first infusion my hair would begin to fall out. They could not have been more accurate. At exactly day 14 I was able to very gently pull or brush my hair and it came out in patches.

This was the amount after brushing through my short, but thick hair.
 It was thinning out.

I knew that I eventually wanted to buzz it off, but I also knew it was still too thick in the back. Throughout the morning I continued to manually pull it out. That sounds so brutal but there was no pain. It just came with ease. After running a few errands we came home and cut the rest off.

I thought I would be more emotional through this process. There were tears, but in talking about it with Chris and other family members, this is temporary. It WILL grow back. And the fun part is we don’t know what it will look like. It could be a completely different color or curly. Who knows! Below are pictures of my amazingly supportive husband shaving my head along with the after picture.

Through this blog, I have tried to be as real and transparent as possible. I may be smiling but I hadn’t been the whole time. It was hard. The hardest part is more what my kids will think. How will Eli react? As the oncologist told me, this is the most visible sign that you are fighting a battle. Everyone you see me from here on will know.

There have been some fun experiences since shaving my head. I am so much cooler! I seem to be always hot and not anymore. I will save money on shampoo. I can get ready in the mornings much faster.

I also find coordinating my outfit to match my head wrap and earrings are fun!

Through this whole process, I am trying to find the good in every situation. It is weird to put a shirt on and not have to pull my hair out of my collar. It is weird to reach up to twirl my hair and find nothing there. It is weird to lay on the pillow at night and feel the cold fabric against my head. It is all different, but this time next year will hopefully be back! Honestly, I may never go back to long hair. The short hair before chemo was great!

As with the discussion on reconstructive surgery for my breast, cancer has changed me. I always knew that beauty is what is inside, but it’s hard to see that clearly when you’ve lost two things that define you as a woman. A breast and hair, but on the inside, I’m still Carrie.

Some may be wondering how the kids reacted. Isaac did fine. He plans to get his head shaved this evening to match dad and me.

Eli saw the shaving process happen, but when I got down to show him he was a bit overwhelmed. He couldn’t look at me. He wanted away from me as fast as he could. This hurt. I tried talking to him and saying it’s mommy, don’t be scared, but he was. I excused myself and cried a bit more. Once I put my wrap on he changed. He realized it was his mom! By the end of the evening, he was crawling in my lap for cuddles.

I don’t want to touch it, mom!!
 I sure love my mommy

I haven’t had a chance to talk to Jordan in great detail yet, but at 18 he’s old enough to comprehend what’s going on. He’s a very strong young man and has jumped on the deep end at college and is rocking his first term. We can’t wait to see him and have him home from Thanksgiving to New Years!