01/06/2018 “Taxotere isn’t as easy as I would have hoped, but it hasn’t been making me as sick! It takes about 8 days and then I feel pretty normal. The body aches are awful and I hate how my mouth feels, and just always the exhaustion. I just feel drained a lot and miss how my life used to be.
Of course then I get emotional and super sad. I sat in an epsom salt bath the other days to soak away the pain and was just staring at a picture on the ledge. It was of Kallie and I when she was around 6 months old. I was young with long hair and just a glowing innocence. Then I caught my reflection in the shower glass next to the tub.
Starting back at me was a totally different woman…
bald, no nipples, dull, marked with scars, wrinkled, scared, sad…and all I could think of was HOW? How did this happen? It’s not even the why anymore because I know that God is grooming me. But it’s the ‘how in the world did my life get here’?”*
Over the months of Taxotere infusions, it would take a day or two for the pain and ickiness to hit. So that was never fun! I seemed to get sick in one way or another in between each treatment. SUPER FRUSTRATING! But it also made me really glad to have good days. In between my treatments, I started being able to get out and do normal life stuff for a few days each time! I was helping coach my daughter’s basketball team and getting back into some normalcy with teaching my fitness classes and even working out some.
I LOVED the days that I felt good!!! Those moments became precious and I loved them!
As February rolled around and I was facing my FINAL chemo treatment of Taxotere, it became pretty daunting. So daunting that I even asked Kaleb if I could quit…I just didn’t know if I could keep going. Every time I had an infusion I got sick…insomnia, constipation, awful mouth sores and pain, esophagus burn, laryngitis, and antibiotics. I would be confined to my house, get down emotionally, become exhausted beyond explanation and every bone in my body would hurt. The thought of going through it again just made me so sad.
I had done 4 rounds of AC (Red Devil), 1 round of Taxol, a Bilateral Mastectomy with 19 lymph nodes removed, 3 rounds of Taxotere so far and I still had to do 1 more round of that plus 6 weeks of Radiation and oral chemo of Xeloda. THEN had to get ovary removal and exchange surgery.
I did’t know what it would change if I skipped just one round of this chemo…just that last one.
What would it decrease in my chances of beating this? It was what I wanted but I also didn’t want to be selfish or make the wrong choice…more for my family than myself.
02/06/2019 “I don’t want this coming back and will do whatever I need to do to make sure it doesn’t! But I want to participate in my life. My kids are young and I am missing things that I don’t want to! I have to pray for discernment and wisdom to make the right choice. Every time I stop to pray, my mind races—so I need to keep remembering Romans 8:26.“*
“This journey has been crazy—NEVER thought I would be here. But I ’m still clinging to the knowing there’s a reason God chose me. I hope I am doing all of this right by Him and helping others.”*
Kaleb and I met with Dr. Pala (oncologist) and went over all my thoughts and concerns. In the end, we decided to move forward with treatment as planned. I knew that if the cancer ever came back I would never be able to forgive myself. Dr. Pala’s reasoning to keep going were 1) no studies or data on 3 Taxotere treatment vs. 4…all data is with 4 treatments. She also assured me that if my side effects would have been too intolerable she would have stopped me. 2) I had come this far and it’s only one more to go (easier said than done!) 3) She felt we had one shot at this and wanted to do all we could…which I appreciated. I felt better after meeting with her and knew we had made the right choice.
So on February 19, 2019 I went to my FINAL chemo infusion! Done. Over.
Hopefully I never have to sit in that chair again. Granted, in my head I wasn’t ‘done’ so it really didn’t seem like a big deal to me. I still had so much ahead of me that it really didn’t feel like I had accomplished this yet.
But I went. I took the infusion nurses pink cupcakes to thank them for being so amazing over my time with them. They had a sign on my IV stand reaching “last chemo” and had me read a saying and ring the bell. I didn’t expect to do that until I finished radiation!!! I ad no idea it would be that emotional of a day, but was glad to have 2 of my closest friends by my side to experience it with me. After 8 months of chemo, I got to rink that bell and celebrate not going back for more.
After my infusion, we had a celebratory toast with my mom. It was pretty perfect. Then we drove up to my house with a huge yard sign congratulating me on my last infusion. I swear, there was always a surprise lurking around!
Kaleb was out of town for work that day. I would have LOVED to embrace him and say WE DID IT and thank him for everything. But it was probably a relief for him to be away for a bit, lol!!!
02/19/2019 “So the celebration is over and know it’s time to rest, recover, and wait for hell to hit”*
02/22/2019 “ Not feeling great. Exhausted and foggy beyond belief. But tonight was Kallie’s championship basketball game and I was NOT about to miss it! So I got out of ed and showered and made it to the game. I was groggy and queasy but I was THERE. And it was totally worth it because they won!!!! Wonder if and when I will ever get to feel normal again. I want my mouth to feel and taste normal. I want to feel good. I want energy and HEALTH.”*
Our next step after chemo was to meet with our Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Shivnani, and get a plan of action. There was SO much information and I still didn’t really comprehend it all or understand.
I knew I had to do 28 active sessions plus a planning session and trial run.
In a planning session, they take images and do little pin dot tattoos so that they will know exactly how to line up the machine each time. The in the trial run, they lay you on the table and line up the machine and take measurements. Every time you go in, you want to be in the exact same position with the machine hitting in an exact location.
When we met with the Radiation Oncologist, he explained that I wouldn’t just be having radiation to the left breast but also the chest wall since there was suspicion there at one point. That made me a bit uneasy because of the extra skin burning I would be susceptible to and and effects to my heart and esophagus. With my cancer being on the left side, there could be issues to the heart down the road. Granted, most people seem to tolerate radiation pretty well. But I was always nervous since I seemed to have a random issue every time I turned around. However, I was PRAYING that 2019 would prove to be a more successful year…even Dr. Pala proclaimed that in our first appointment of the year!
All of this potential side effects were hard to grasp. It’s like you would try to do everything you could to eliminate the disease but then what? What if it caused some sort of secondary issue down the road? How do you know the right decision to make?