It's the last week before Chemo Session 4 which means it's a good time to look back at Chemo Cycle 3. As Gayle said when we were discussing it last night, no news is usually good news in this situation. And, overall, the cycle has been pretty quiet.
Chemo 3 was on January 17. My friends Anne and Elizabeth went with me to the session and hung out. I did have another anaphylactic reaction to the first chemo drug (paclitaxel) which means I've had a reaction in every cycle. However, I've decided that the reaction is caused when they up the dose too fast so I'm going into the February 7 cycle and will insist that we make 4 incremental jumps in dosage rather than trying to go from the low dose straight to the high dose. Hopefully that will give me a clean round of chemo for once.
Side effects have continued to be pretty minimal although two new changes poked up their ugly heads in this cycle. I've had some neuropathy in my hands with every cycle in the form of minor numbness. On January 30 I also noticed significant pin-prick like sensations in my hands. On the 30th it was all day long and incredibly annoying. It has subsided since then and is now more sporadic which is actually easier to deal with. I also had noticeable neuropathy in my feet on this cycle - again in the form of numbness. Luckily it has gotten less noticeable as the cycle has gone one.
I'm also gaining weight which can be a side effect of the steroids or may just be that January was so dark and gloomy and the weather so inhospitable I never wanted to go outside to walk. I'm also trying to be grateful that my appetite has not been an issue and that I have not been bothered much with nausea instead of resenting the weight gain. Hopefully this sunshine we have on the first day of February means the weather is going to get a little brighter. I'm looking forward to taking Kona out for a walk later today.
One of the things I'm grappling with during chemo is whether or not to follow up with radiation after chemo. The oncology team recommends I do 25 external radiation sessions and 2 internal sessions. Radiation is done 5 days a week for 5 weeks for the external and then a short break and then the 2 internal sessions follow for two days. The results of radiation seem to only impact local recurrences and radiation is, for the most part, use it once solution. However, the likelihood of recurrence is highest in my pelvic area so doing all I can to stop recurrence seems wise given my generally young age. Radiation carries with it the possibility for some nasty side effects - some of which are long term. We met with the radiation oncologist the day after my chemo infusion and I asked a lot more questions. I've 95% decided I will do radiation and I'm trying to remain positive and believe that side effects, if I have them, will be minimal and short term.
In that vain, I really do believe that mental attitude has a lot to do with recovery. From that perspective, January was a rough month mentally. The aforementioned gray weather did not help at all. However, as I just reviewed January a bit, it was overall a fantastic month even if I had a hard time seeing that during the month. New energy always comes with the first day of a month and hopefully there will be something special in February given that it's a leap year. I'll also be 86% done with chemo in February as I have 2 chemo sessions this month - one on the 7th and one on the 28th! That is a good feeling to be able to say that I'll be that close to done.
I continue to thank everyone who is praying for me and sending me good energy. You can't know what a difference it makes knowing I have an incredible support system. Thank you so much!