One Step at a Time

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I had my first chemotherapy treatment for the second round on March 17, 2016.  It involved Carboplatin, Paclitaxel, and Avastin.  I was weighing in at a whopping 112 pounds and was still trying to gain my weight back from the first go-round.  Prior to this I was on Xanax and Celexa for my anxiety, depression, and mood disorder.  Dr. Weroha had informed me that I would have to step off of my Celexa because of the effects from the chemotherapy drugs.  Not only did we have concerns regarding my medication, we had concerns about my white blood cell count.  I was still very low from my previous treatments.  I had persistent leukopenia.  If levels got too low, I would not be able to receive treatments or I could go into neutropenic fever and that could end in death.  (Wow, what was going to happen to me?!)

The first treatment made me very nauseous and I threw up a couple times.  I was given a script for anti-nausea medication and in all honesty, it didn’t do a damn thing for me.  In order to not be as nauseous the next time we discussed taking the anti-nausea a couple days prior to the next treatment.  If it did not improve they offered a steroid taper but I didn’t like the sound of that.  My hair decided to start falling out after just one treatment.  I remember it was April 1, 2016 and I decided to take a shower.  I made the mistake of looking down and my hands were covered in clumps of hair.  It was a moment of complete shock and I cried until I was angry.  I called Amy, Rachel, and Kylie to come over and shave it off for me.  This was something cancer was NOT going to take from me.  I can’t thank these girls enough for coming over at like 8:30-9:00 at night to do this for me.  They kept my spirits up and made sure to let me know that I came out looking pretty fierce with my new buzz-cut.  It was on to my second dose of chemotherapy on April 8, 2016.

My hair started falling out to the point that I was losing my eyelashes, eyebrows, leg hair, EVERYTHING.  Joan Peterson is a saint and made me some beautiful headscarves!  I was rocking those in no time!  I’ve kept them all to look back at how fortunate I have been!  I received so many thoughtful gifts from family and friends…sometimes complete strangers!

On April 29, 2016 I had anticipated my third chemotherapy treatment however my neutrophils and platelets were too low.  I had begun bruising easily.  My sister’s wedding reception was the following week so we pushed it out to May 13, 2016.  After that appointment I would receive my first PET/CT scan for evaluation of chemotherapy effectiveness.  My doses of chemotherapy still remained at full doses.

May 12, 2016 came around and I had my blood drawn that morning.  They received the results at the Mayo Clinic and my numbers still were unacceptable for chemotherapy.  We had to delay chemotherapy for another week.  It was so frustrating!  It was then we discussed the Neulasta shot I would be given after my next treatment in order to keep my numbers up.

May 18, 2016 arrived and my blood was drawn.  My neutrophils recovered to 1.4 and I was able to receive my next chemotherapy treatment and discuss the PET/CT scan.  When June 10, 2016 came around, I was expecting negative results with the way treatments have been prolonged and my body was so run down.  The scan showed a complete interval response to therapy.  What did this mean?!  The scans were completely CLEAN! OH MY GOD!  I was thankful to have my mom and Steven with me at that visit.  I cried so many tears of joy and they were soon followed by tears of fear because I had to continue until the sixth dose of chemotherapy.  It has never been proven that stopping after three treatments would benefit anyone. (Damn it, so we continued with my fourth treatment).

We pushed chemotherapy off until July 15th, 2016 because my cousin Nick and I were flying out to Maine to see my cousin Mathew.  My ticket was bought before I got diagnosed the second time.  There was no way that I was going to let this trip go to waste!  (It was all worth it: the beer, the Fenway game, the food, the exercise, and the cardinal sightings almost every morning during my quiet time).  I was ready to get these last two done, however, my numbers were not good and I was delayed another week.

July 21, 2016 was the day I got my blood drawn. I was crossing my fingers that it would be okay to get my next treatment.  I had made a couple different recipes from a chemotherapy dietary cookbook that were dedicated to neutropenia.  YUM! I also was successful and was able to receive my fifth cycle of treatment.

August 5, 2016 arrived and mom and I went to the Cage the Elephant concert and decided we were going to get up early to get to the Mayo in order to complete my LAST treatment.  Unfortunately, the lab back home read the results wrong to the Mayo Clinic and we made the trip for nothing.  Mom knew I was super upset and she did everything she could to keep my spirits up.  We did a little shopping but I grew tired easily.

Treatment was pushed out another week. On August 12, 2016 I received my last dose of chemotherapy!  If all went well, September 2nd would be my next PET/CT scan!  We went ahead and had the scan and it came back clean as well!  Two consecutive scans that came back clean was such a good sign!  There was no evidence of the disease left!

Three month checks were in my future. (To be continued) …

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