AC Chemo Round 3

It has been a bit since I updated the blog. The main reason is, this round of chemo kicked my butt. A week and a half ago I went in for round three of four. I was feeling pretty well and optimistic that I was halfway done with the “yucky chemo”. The infusion, as always, went fine. My labs all looked decent, but I was starting this round with the lowest starting white blood count when compared to rounds one and two. I was starting at around 6.5. While this is considered normal, round one was a 7 and round two a 13 so I wasn’t sure if that would affect anything. After the infusion, I went home and just laid around the rest of the day. Unlike most, I am always very tired on the day of infusion. Most are not because as part of the pre-need protocol you are giving a heavy steroid which keeps most up the night of treatment. Not this girl!

I slept off and on treatment day and went to bed shortly after Eli that evening. He goes down like clockwork around 8:00 every evening. Like me, he loves his sleep. The next two or three days I don’t remember much. I slept….a lot. If I had to guess, it was an average of 20 hours a day. I can vaguely remember talking to the kids and Chris. I remember him talking to me and feeling like my eyes were rolling back in my head. I just could not stay awake.

Once I started to be up a bit more I was more nauseous than I have been. I had to take medicine four or five times and didn’t even do that with rounds one and two combined. Like the previous times, I lost my taste and had the weird metallic all smell, but it seemed a bit more intense. Nothing at all tasted good to eat. I’m fairly certain I skipped several meals that first week from either sleeping through them or just not being able to eat due to lack of taste. My go-to items seem to be shakes from Sonic and peanuts butter. Not the healthiest of options, but I am working hard to stay hydrated with water and Gatorade and get calories in how I can, when I can.

I believe it was Monday I started feeling a bit better. I was still very tired, but able to stay up most of the day. Then the next symptom hit. Insomnia. I had this in round two as well. I went several nights, I believe two, where I didn’t sleep at all. I then would have to compensate by sleeping during the day. It’s frustrating but manageable. A lot of people do that when they work overnight shifts. During the nights I would binge-watch shows and play games on my iPad. I wanted to do things around the house, but wanting and doing are completely separate things.

Today I feel human. I finally got my body back on the normal day/night schedule and have slept well the last two or three nights. I woke up when Eli did, at 6:00 am….yes, on a Saturday. We cuddled in bed for a bit and have been going strong since. I plan to cook some dinner this evening for the family, work on the mountain of laundry that has piled up, and have already placed the weekly grocery order. I will try to make the best of this time before round four takes me back down again.

Round four was scheduled to occur on Tuesday. I wasn’t thrilled with this because that meant I would sleep through Thanksgiving and when I was awake not be able to taste any of the yummy food. We have some sweet friends who invited us over for dinner and promised to handle everything so I didn’t have to…I want so bad to be able to enjoy that time with family and our adopted family. On Thursday of last week, I got a call that there was a scheduling conflict and they would need to change my chemo date. She said she could get me in late Wednesday or would have to push me to the week after Thanksgiving. After discussing my options with her, it was best that we push it until after the Holiday. I will be having my fourth and final AC chemo treatment on December 1. I will get to enjoy the week with Chris, who is off work, and all three of my boys! I will get to taste Thanksgiving….and for a few moments forget that I have cancer. For that I am grateful!

We are bummed that we can’t do our normal Thanksgiving trip to Arkansas, but with COVID, it’s just not safe for me, really, any of us. I’m not scared of COVID, but it’s real and for someone in such a vulnerable state, it is wise we hide out here and spend time with only those we are close to here. In the short-term it stinks, but when we must focus on still being around next year and for many years to come!

Jordan will be coming home soon and will be with us through the new year and we are thrilled to have him home! The next month is sure to be exciting. Yes, there will be ups and downs, but we plan to focus entirely on the ups!!!

If I don’t get another blog up before Thursday, Happy Thanksgiving. I challenge you to look at your lives and examine how God has blessed you in 2020. There is joy in every situation. Even in 2020. Even during a global pandemic or a cancer diagnosis, God is blessing us. How has He blessed you?

Word of the Month – Gratitude

Chris and I help teach on Sunday mornings in the children’s ministry at our church. Each month we have a word that we focus on and with November being the month that Thanksgiving falls, we are talking about gratitude. I thought I would take a few minutes to discuss what Chris and I are grateful for since this journey began.

But first, an update. I am currently sitting at Texas Oncology receiving my third AC chemo treatment. Last week I came in for my treatment as scheduled only to discover that my white blood count was too low to do the infusion. They want the white blood count to be at a 3.5 or higher and I was sitting at a 2.6. Our only real option was to postpone treatment for a week. While this was a minor setback, it is small in the grand scheme of things. My body was allowed an extra week to recover and clearly it needed it. I spent the week resting. I had a rollercoaster sleep pattern. I slept a great deal for the first week or so after chemo. Then i went several days with little to no sleep only to fall back down and sleep for several more days solid. I believe this is the hardest part on my family. When I’m sleeping Chris takes on everything. When I’m awake I feel up to doing a few things, but tire out quick. Just when I think I could go to bed and sleep the insomnia sets in and i’m up until 5 am.

Other than fatigue and crazy sleep patterns the side effects have been minimal. The pre-meds they give me prior to chemo are wonderful and prevent a great deal of the side effects associated with chemo. So much research has been done to improve breast cancer treatment, but there is so much more that needs to be done. I pray that in my lifetime a cure for breast cancer and other cancers can be found!

Now for the actual subject of my post. Gratitude. One definition of the word I found said it was a “warm feeling of thankfulness”. I like that. I wanted to take a few minutes to thank some people who have helped us thus far.

First, our family. Parents, siblings, aunts and uncles have been wonderful. Whether it’s coming to clean my house prior to surgery, coming to take care of my kids while I was having surgery, sending gift cards for meals, gifts that are meaningful and some that bring much needed laughter, my family has been there. They are constantly checking on me as well as everyone else in the house making sure we are okay. Asking what we need an offering to drop everything and come to help if needed. I have known for a long time they were awesome, but this past few months have shown what family is all about. Oh, and did I mention some shaved their heads and beards in support of my first chemo treatment?!? But I am not just speaking of my blood family here, I am speaking also of my “in-laws”. I actually hate that term. The day I married into Chris’s family and my brothers married I gained moms, dads, sisters, and brothers that mean just as much to me as my biological ones! I love you all!

Second is our church family. Wow! Seriously, all of you rock. Starting well before my surgery you have been in constant prayer. I have felt them. With most of our family being so far away, you have filled a gap that we so greatly needed. So many reach out to us to check on us. So many speak to Chris on Sundays to make sure we are all okay. In addition, starting very shortly after my surgery you took on feeding our family. For three solid weeks you provided meals for us every other day. It was always delicious and fed us for far more than one meal at a time. Each meal may have filled us physically, but it also filled our hearts with love. There have been very sweet gifts, gift cards, cash, and notes that I will cherish forever. When we stepped into the church building a little more than four years ago for a visit we had no idea the impact you all would have on our lives. Even before the cancer diagnosis you have taken care of us and been, truly, a family. We thank God daily for all of you!

Finally, friends. People from as far back as high school have reached out, called, texted, and sent cards. These truly do lift our spirits. All of this has made me realize just how vast our community of support is. There are times I am, for lack of a better word, overwhelmed, but not in a bad way. I have found so much joy throughout this journey and that is thanks to everyone in our lives being there for us.

Through all of you our boys are being taught what love and support means. They are seeing that even in the midst of a battle there can be joy. Though we may find ourselves in darkness that there are always people there to be the light we need. When we feel weak and scared there are others to hold us tight and calm our fears.

As we move into the Thanksgiving season, please know how truly grateful we are. Our hope is that we will one day be able to bless some of you in the way you have blessed us.