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.
On January 24th my surgeon requested that I get a CT scan. He really did not want to take out my lymph nodes so he thought that if my lymph nodes showed up as the exact same size as they were in the original CT scan last August, he could do the mastectomy and not put me through the nerve pain and possible arm swelling. So I got a CT scan that was otherwise would not have been scheduled. Today I saw my doctor for a follow up and the CT scan could be a game changer. It showed two things. …
There has been a change of plans and a possible change in procedure
My surgery has been re-scheduled as high priority. Instead of February 11, 2014, the new date for my mastectomy is January 28, 2014. Because I am still on Filgrastim shots, my white cell count should be up high enough by then (God-willing). My oncologist and my surgeon have a difference in opinion in how far to take the surgery so I won’t find out the outcome until the day of surgery.
I survived the harsh chemo and lived through it. and now it is time for me to suffer through the results of the chemo. I have severe leg pain from my mid thigh to my heels. This is neuropathy caused by the chemo. I have been on special pills for the nerve pain, but they aren’t working yet. I hear it can take a couple of weeks before these pills handle the pain. For now I am just suffering and pretty much bed ridden. I praise God for a chance at life, but I also ask for His help to bear the pain.
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. …
Today I started my pre-meds in preparation for “D” day — the start of the harsh chemotherapy treatment that could be a part in my healing, but could also threaten my life.
I was prescribed twice the dose of steroids to protect me against an allergic reaction to the chemo and also to help protect me against a side effect that would cause my body to swell with fluids. How well this pretreatment works will be seen shortly. I was also given pretreatment for the neuropathy that accompanies this particular chemo. I already experienced this attack on the nerves in my legs with the last chemo, and I came close to over medicating myself with Tylenol because I couldn’t sleep due to nerve pain, but the next level is said to be much worse. In fact all one’s nerves can be affected include the nerves in one’s ears which could lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss. There is so much to be afraid about, but God is giving me peace to walk this road to go for the cure.
In the words of my doctor, “We are going for the cure.”
What does this mean?
The four rounds of chemotherapy that I have already endured have done wonders for the visible cancer. The cancer had attached itself to my chest wall and was hard and locally spread. Not only was a lymph node involved as well as multiple tumours, the cancer had also spread to multiple local areas within the skin itself. It was a very aggressive cancer. However all of that visible sign of cancer is now gone and only some blemishes on the skin are left to show where the cancer existed. But cancer is a malicious thing that is not necessarily “gone” until there are no cancerous cells left. My doctor thinks I have a chance at a cure, and he wants to take me through a process that could give me a complete cure, but there are problems.