Yesterday was a banner day for me as I looked forward to two events that were important to me. The first event was getting the results of my bone scan, which I will share in just a moment. The last event of the day was far less important but something that I had been looking forward to for a whole year. It was a wonderful experience to get my chemo curls removed. I went from a mass of curls to a real hair style for the first time in more than a year. During the past twelve months, I was completely bald for at least six months, so it was wonderful just to have hair again. But lately I found myself looking more like a woolly lamb as my longer hair was threatening to turn into ringlets. I am so thankful for my friend Shauna, who took the time to cut and shape my post chemo hair. My husband said that the cut was “terrific.” That is a first for me in such a long time. Thanks Shaun
The first event that happened to me yesterday was something that I had been eagerly awaiting. In February of 2014, I had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer from a bone scan that showed the cancer had spread to my spine. My internist said that it had been verified by two tests so it was sure, however, my surgeon took issue with this diagnosis saying that it could be something other than cancer.
I have meant to create this updated post for a couple of weeks, but I was in the midst of a heavy deadline in getting our latest magazine completed, so everything else was set aside. I praise God that I am gaining strength daily and am able to get into a work schedule again even though it is a modified one. I no longer have a need to nap during the day unless I don’t sleep well at night. If is so wonderful to feel strength coming back. Richard is taking me for walks up the mountain and even though I feel like I am going to die, pressing myself on to complete a goal has been very good for getting some muscle back. I still have nerve damage in my legs, so walking to gain muscle back is very important.
My brain still has a ways to go to get out from the fog leftover from chemotherapy. The lingering fog could last as along as a year, or sometimes longer, but I trust that my short term memory loss and my inability to remember words in conversation will continue to come back. One major change that I have noticed is that I can multi-task again which is something that was pretty much impossible during my six months of treatments. My hair is starting to grow back and I am pleased that I am getting some added warmth back to my head! My hair hasn’t grown very much yet, but it is getting thick as more hairs are coming in daily. I am not totally sure what colour it will be when it is grown out, and for now it is mostly light brown. Where did the red go that is my question! I do know that often hair can change drastically after chemo and the colour, texture or curl can be a big change when it grows back. I am waiting to see what colour it will finally be when I have a few inches of growth back.
My finger nails are growing back quite nicely after they all fell out from the chemo. It might not be too long before I can pick small things up or scratch myself. I never knew how much I would miss my finger nails! The toe nails are another matter. All ten of them also fell out but they are really slow at coming back. I am so thankful that I have no pain as I heard that losing one’s toe nails could be very painful.
The best news
I knew that this whole cancer journey was a roller coaster ride, but the last corner and last loop of this ride surprised and really blessed me. We are going for the cure again! Here is what happened…
I had my surgery yesterday, February 11, 2014, and by God’s grace I had no pain! My anesthesiologist offered me a needle on the side of my spine that was designed to block the nerves on my chest and give me pain relief for a minimum of 12 hours. I declined as I didn’t want my spine touched or my nerves affected. I was also offered morphine in the recovery room, but one a scale of 0-10, my pain was only a 2 so I received 3 regular Tylenol and that is all I needed for pain. Since then I have been completely pain free! Praise the Lord for the prayer that has gone up on my behalf. It was a major surgery and to have no pain is amazing. I am feeling tiredness, but that is to be expected.
With all of the side effects of chemotherapy, my view concerning one of the side effects has changed dramatically.
Hand and Foot Syndrome
I have developed hand and foot syndrome from the docetaxel chemotherapy. At the beginning it was just painful with feet so enflamed and red on my heels that I could hardly walk, but then it became just plain ugly. From what I am reading, the peeling is a fairly rare symptom and even my own internist at the hospital had to look it up on the internet because he had apparently not seen it before. Once the red started to go down on my heels, here is a picture of how they started to peel. …
Last Wednesday, my husband and I made a trip to the closest cancer hospital to see an oncologist about the next step in my treatment. The doctor that we were booked to see had taken ill that day, so we were rescheduled to see another oncologist who is now taking over my treatments. We also learned that the former oncologist had planned radiation before surgery as the next step after my current chemotherapy treatment. The reasoning is that the doctors want to make sure that there is a clear margin of cancer-free skin for the surgeon to work with. The main issue is that the aggressive cancer that was growing in me had already spread to the skin. …
My doctor and I were ready for the worst, but God gave an amazing answer to prayer!
My immune system – specific white cells needed for my immune system – had to be high enough to handle the harsh chemo that targets both white and red cells and kills them more thoroughly than the last chemo did. In my third chemo session, I only qualified for 3/4 dose because my immune system was not high enough. The minimum qualification for full dose is a count of 1500. I was only at 1200. But with with the lesser dose of chemo that was given to me at my 4th chemo session, I came up to the count of 1900, still below “normal” but the best I had seen since I started chemo.
So when my blood was tested this morning, I was at 8000 a count that is far above “normal”! One of the nurses was very worried that the high count could mean an infection, but after a thorough check, it was attributed to the 3 doses of steroids that I was required to take to prepare me for the allergic reaction that can happen with this chemo. …