~ the way things go…

The way this works is that prior to each chemotherapy treatment I require blood analysis to ensure my body is ready for the treatment. Today my blood analysis showed that my neutrophil level is too low to proceed with chemo tomorrow. So my appointment has been postponed until next week. I will have blood analysis done again either Friday or Tuesday to know if I am ready for treatment. It’s good to know that the next session won’t happen until my body is ready to handle it. 

I asked my doctor when and how my progress will be measured. After cycle 3 I will have a CT scan with contrast to measure the size of the mass. This test will be performed close to the beginning of cycle 4. After cycle 6 I will have another PET scan. 

I also learned today that following my 6 cycles of chemotherapy I will have 3-4 weeks of daily radiation therapy. This will take my treatment into December. 

I have been feeling good over the last 10 days or so. I have been sleeping well and have a good appetite and energy level. 

As of today my hair has almost totally fallen out, all that is left seem to be the stubborn grey hair that look transparent. My head reminds me of Charlie Brown with only a few hair on my round head. It has fascinated me how suddenly my hair began falling out, and how much would come out each day. Over the last 7 days virtually all of my hair has come out. At the moment I shed more than Vodka does. I will remain without hair until a few months after the chemotherapy ends. This means hats and scarves for the next 8 months and then some. It’s a good thing I like wearing hats. 

I am learning new things everyday about how to live with reduced immunity. Fresh flowers and houseplants are not good to be around. I now wear a mask and gloves when I clean the cat’s litter. In general to avoid crowds and increase hand washing. My hands are so dry! Ouch!

I spoke with a dietician the other day. Interesting to know that I can eat whatever I want. The main thing to have an appetite and eat, yet try to make wise choices. I have lost weight over the last three weeks despite having a good appetite for the last 10 days. I learned that I am to avoid sushi and raw fish and make sure that meats are cooked thoroughly.

Now that I know my treatment schedule is not written in stone I can relax. I have to admit I am a little relieved that my treatment is postponed. I am really trying to let go of the first experience and tell myself that the next one will go well. Inside I have mixed feelings at the thought of another treatment. A little more time to rest and think positive thoughts is a good thing.

I sparkle on…one day at a time.   🙂

~ one week in…feeling like a zombie…

One week into treatment and feeling poorly. After the first few days of being ill and having no sleep I was completely drained. Nausea and exhaustion are an unpleasant combination. Add to that an annoying sore throat that has changed into the something stuck in the throat feeling. Yuck! I spoke to a few nurses and a pharmacist at the cancer centre about how I have been feeling. They prescribed a sedative to calm me on Monday, it was so powerful that I felt as though my limbs were like a daddy longlegs spider and I had no control over them. I did sleep that night and remained in a fog the whole next day. The goal is to manage symptoms and rest, so I spend my days moving between my bed and the sofa.

I am still surprised when I see my reflection. Short, dark hair style and empty eyes that are masked by a veil of nasty chemicals. I can’t help but marvel as I observe how quickly this treatment is taking hold and leaving me feeling like a zombie. It takes all my energy to make meals and clean up after myself. I feel like I have lost even more strength and struggle to open containers. For a fiercely independent girl this is hard to accept, yet I must acknowledge and accept my temporary physical limits. Each day I feel strange tingling where the orange is and I am certain the treatment is working and shrinking it to a kumquat. 

There are positive items to note. My lymphoma is stage 1. My left upper lung has inflated again and is functioning fine. The cough I have had since January is finally gone, it stopped after the first day of treatment. I am breathing normally and don’t seem to struggle or gasp for air anymore. 

I sparkle on…one day at a time.  🙂

~ chemo day 2…so far so good…

My day started slowly. After yesterday’s events I was late coming in for my appointment and quite reluctant to proceed. They have assured me that yesterday’s response to the chemo was atypical and will increase the anti nausea meds the next time. This is the hard part, each person responds to treatment differently. So one day at a time is the best approach. 

Today I received fluids to hydrate and we have proceeded with the next chemo drug. I have eaten and slept and am happy to say the nausea is under control. 

We will see how the day progresses.

I sparkle on…one day at a time.  🙂

~ chemo day 1…I spoke too soon…

Yesterday I was feeling okay and that changed quickly. I was resting on the sofa when nausea set it in pretty hard. I went into my kitchen for a drink of water I recall looking at the clock, it was 3:47 and next thing I know I am on the kitchen floor with Vodka meowing at me. Feeling very nauseated I made it the bathroom and realized I needed my phones so I crawled into the living room to retrieve the phones and back to the bathroom. Nausea was setting in hard and fast, I began to sweat profusely. I called Jenny at 4:00 and kept her on the line while I called 911, the cancer centre and my neighbour to come over. The vomiting began and didn’t end until midnight. Ashley and Emma arrived at my house to help. We prepared to go emergency. 90 minutes later the ambulance arrived. My first ambulance ride and I was in no mood for bad jokes. 

We arrived at the hospital only to wait in the hallway for about 2.5-3 hours. When I finally got a bed they did an ECG and. CT scan of my head. I received fluids by IV and more anti nausea meds, which didn’t seem to help. After midnight I received 5 stitches in my head and was released. Finally! By this time I was so drained and exhausted. My friends stayed the night with me and I managed to sleep for a few hours. 

I sparkle on…one day at a time.  🙂

~ chemo day 1…

Today was pretty simple. We discussed the process and the drugs that are going to be used along with the appointment schedule. The IV line was inserted and things were underway. 

I was given anti nausea meds and a little time for them to take effect. Then each drug was administered individually with a saline rinse in between. In total today was about 3.5 hours. I am feeling good just a little groggy. 

The more time consuming part will be to review all the documentation I was given and understanding my calendar of taking medicine at home. I have a diary to record my symptoms and the importance of identifying fever and going to emergency was stressed repeatedly. 

Time to rest. I have another session tomorrow. 

I sparkle on…one day at a time.   🙂

~ a good news update…

I received some results today. The bone marrow test was negative. The PET scan showed the mass is the same as the previous CT scan and has not spread. This is wonderful news!

Chemotherapy will begin either July 13 or 20, the date will be confirmed next week. 

Overall I am feeling really good. The pain in my chest has reduced and my cough is better, except when I talk too much or laugh. 😉  Next step is a pixie haircut and shopping for cute hats! I am embracing this life adventure. 

I sparkle on…one day at a time.  🙂