In the Final Month!

When I was diagnosed in August the end of treatment seemed so far away. It felt like it would never arrive. Surprisingly, the past seven months have gone quick. I believe the countless appointments kept our schedule busy and I slept a majority of the time on chemo. It probably felt faster for me than those around me caring for me.

May is the month my active treatment finally comes to an end! On Friday I completed radiation 12 of 28. We are almost halfway done. As of now there are no side effects and for that I am grateful!

The effects are chemo are starting to subside. I am still battling neuropathy which has actually worsened over the last two weeks. I pray we are in that, it will get worse before it gets better, stage. Praying it starts to subside as it has become more uncomfortable. My taste has pretty much returned. Yay! My hair is growing (on most spots). My energy level is good and I feel great. God is so good!

I know it’s been a while since I updated so I wanted to share my life over the last few weeks. My days are busy working two part-time jobs, daily radiation appointments, karate and baseball with Isaac, and Eli just being Eli. There are not enough hours in the day, but life is wonderful and I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.

Below are a few pictures of how it’s all been going.

Eli doing his silly thing
Isaac doing his baseball thing!
Still no hair on the right side of my head! So weird!
Coming in good on the sides and back!

Taxol Treatment 9 of 12

It has been a minute since I’ve updated. I feel I just repeat the same things over and over, but I know a lot of you want to know how things are going. I am working on a few different posts and would love ideas on what you want to know. If you have a question, leave a comment. I plan to do a Q and A post soon!

This past Thursday I had my 9th Taxol. It went much the same. The doctor has been giving me an extra bag of fluids each treatment which seems to help my energy levels the day of treatment and the day after. I came home and slept for several hours, but then slept zero Thursday night. The lack of sleep does a number on me emotionally. In addition, the medications mess with your hormones which too makes me emotional. There are times I feel like crying for no reason at all. I feel like if I start crying I may never stop. This has been a struggle the last two days.

The expected pain has started to set in and I fully expect tomorrow to be the worst day of it. That seems to be the routine. By Tuesday I am usually feeling much better and ready to tackle it all over again by Thursday. Okay, that’s a lie. I am never ready for treatment day….Just when I start feeling better I have to get knocked down again.

I keep telling myself I have been doing this since October and there are only three weeks left, four counting recovery, but it feels so far away. I am tired. Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally. I want so bad to be done….but then a whole new scary journey begins. I know what to expect now with chemo, but what will radiation bring?

I feel I don’t talk about the emotional struggle enough on here. My family and close friends see it, but I don’t share enough about it. The is almost as much about the mental fight as the physical, if not more. I want to quit. I want to feel normal. I want life the way it was in July of 2020 when there was nothing wrong with me. The reality is, my life will never be the same. I will forever be post-diagnosis Carrie. My families lives will never be the same. They will all have gone through this with me. It’s hard on them. They put on a brave face for me, but I know they hate it and are tired too.

So how do we make it? God! We pray. We lean on our friends and family when we can’t support ourselves. We keep a positive attitude and find the good in whatever we are dealt. When I can’t see positive, someone else helps me find it. We keep a sense of humor about it all. Sometimes people may be put off by us laughing or joking about my cancer, but laughter helps. Sometimes laughing is all we can do to get through.

My medical team at Texas Oncology is great. They are always positive, but real. They tell me what to expect and support me as those things begin to happen. But mostly, they are awesome because they get me. I feel comfortable being honest and telling how I’m doing. I know they won’t get upset if I didn’t drink enough water that week or lost some weight. If I say I was so mean this week to my family, and they assure me it’s the chemo making me that way. They are awesome because they laugh with me when I crack stupid jokes….or wear silly shirts! They cheer me on and are just as excited as I am that my chemo is almost over. It will be weird not seeing them every week! But they swear after this they never want to see me again (at least in the office).

I have said so many times that sometimes it’s okay to not be okay. This week, and over the past five months, there have been moments of not being okay. I want to thank those who have listened to me, cried with me, and picked me back up. For reminding me what I have already overcome and told me I only have THREE MORE TREATMENTS! 5 months of chemo done, ONE to go!

I saw this on Amazon and had to have it. The staff loved it!

God > Cancer!

Taxol Treatment 1 of 12

My first Taxol chemo infusion was one week ago. There is no reason it has taken me a week to update the blog, I’ve just been lazy about it.

Last Tuesday I went in and had bloodwork done, met with the nurse practitioner, and had my infusion. I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect because it was a completely new medicine, so there were some nerves.

Since it had been right at a month since the last AC chemo, my blook counts had recovered and were at a 9.6, which is considered normal. I felt great and was ready to begin the next chapter. We discussed possible side effects and the nurse practitioner said I was going to breeze through. This type of chemo was easy cmpared to AC.

In the infusion room, they again had trouble getting my port to work. I had to be given some medication to activate the port. They try to see a flash of blood from the port before starting the infusion to know that the port is working properly. After the 30 minutes needed to “active” the port we were still only seeing a tinge of blook, but a flash. When saline was pushed in I could taste it so the nurse felt confident it was functioning properly and we proceeded with the infusion.

Prior to the appointment, I had taken two doses of a steroid, one the night before and one the morning of chemo. I was then given two Pre-meds via my port. Another steroid and anti-nausuea medicaiont and the other was 25mg of Benadryl. Both of those were 15 minurtes each. At this point I have been in the infusion room roughly an hour.

I commented to the nurse that Benadryl usually doesn’t affect me so we would have to see if it knocked me out.

With Taxol, as I have stated before, there is a risk of neuropathy. To try to prevent this you are advised to cover your hands and feet with ice packs during the hour-long infusion. I had previously purchased on Facebook Marketplace a set of gloves and shoes with ice/heat packs built-in. I had frozen them the night before and stuck them in the freezer when I arrived at the clinic so they would stay cold until I was ready for them. The nurse went and retrieved them from the freezer. I put them on and was given a warm blanket to use as well as turned on the heated seat. I started a show on Hulu and turned on auto-play so I wouldn’t need my hands during the infusion and we began.

The beginning is the last thing I remember until the nurse woke me up and said, “You’re all done, sweetie”. I was still very groggy. It had only been an hour. Chris says on the ride home I was talking slow and slurring my words. I slept another four hours or so and woke up feeling decent. I was hopeful the rest of the week would go well. It was going to be a breeze, right?

Y’all, they lied. The infusion was Tuesday and by Thursday I was in significant pain. All over body pain. From the tip of my head to my toes. The worst pain being the back of my head and neck and my pelvis and legs. I tried a few different recommendations but could not find relief. We had planned to spend New Years’ with some great friends and I was considering backing out but decided that it would be good for my spirits so we loaded up our snack food and headed to their house. I reclined in a recliner most of the night enjoying their company, food, and movies.

New Years’ Day, Friday, I was still in significant discomfort. I was not in a good emotional place. I was mad. I was upset that they had not prepared me adequately for the discomfort I was going to feel. I kept thinking, new year, horrible 12 weeks to come. At the time I felt more miserable than I ever had on the AC chemo, but after talking to Chris, most of that was because I had slept the vast majority of the time after AC chemo, and this time I was awake to deal with the effects.

One week later, I am not looking forward to the next infusion, which will take place on Thursday, but I am a bit more mentally prepared for what is to come. I have also talked to the nurse about preventing and dealing with the pain. One thing recommended by my support groups was a heated throw blanket. This will provide hours of all-over heat instead of a heating pad that would work on one part of the body at a time. I am also going to be taking Clariten daily, which helped with the bone pain while doing the AC chemo. And for the day prior and for the few days following infusion I will be alternating Tylenol and Ibuprofen in an effort to prevent the pain all together. If this doesn’t work, there is a more agreesvie approach we can take, but that is a last resort option that we will only use if absolutely neccessary.

I don’t say any of this looking for sympathy. I say this to be real and let others know what kind of a battle they may be facing. I say this to show the good, bad, and ugly side of cancer treatment. I wish I had seen a blog post about what I was going to experience before starting Taxol, I would have been more mentally prepared for it. I would have felt less lied to by everyone. I do realize that everyone reacts differently and most might be just fine on Taxol, but I was not. At least for round one.

I covet your prayers this week, specifically Thursday through the weekend, as I take treatment number two. Thanks again for all the prapers thus far and the support all of you have shown my family and I.

God > Cancer!!!!