Yep. Working around sick people finally got me. I’m (finally) writing an update from the comfort of my couch, all bundled up (in a heavy coat, sweats and uggs), pounding fluids, Vitamin C, zicam, and yes, i started antibiotics (despite knowing this is most likely viral etiology). You see, i’m suppose to have chemo tomorrow and i REALLY just want to get it done, so i’m doing everything i can to feel better so we can start cycle 5 of chemo (out of 8) and not have it be put off a week (which would really mess up things considering my birthday is next week).
I can’t believe i actually want to have chemo tomorrow. That is the complete opposite of how i’ve been feeling for the last few rounds….i even told Carson that he might have to drag me into chemo kicking and screaming because i DO NOT like it. And to be honest, cycle 4 was really really hard on me mentally. I had chemo one week before Christmas and had NO holiday spirit and i just sort of spiraled into a dark place. I won’t go into details but it was bad and i’m glad i’m not in that place anymore. Yes, i know i should see a therapist. Yes, i have one but with the holidays, it was hard to get together. But 2020 i know i need to work on my mental health……step 1…..I’m attempting to work on finding Joy in all that i do, including chemo. So bring on cycle 5. I can do it and i’m going to be ok.
It’s funny that it takes an illness (another illness) to get me to slow down. I’ve spent the last 12 weeks (4 chemo cycles) taking minimal time off and working as much as i can….not going overboard, but just to keep myself occupied. But working at a hospital comes with risks….and working around sick people means that i can get sick too. I need to make an effort to wear a mask AT ALL TIMES (which i rarely do). So now……i’m slowing down (for today) and hope, and pray, that i can get chemo tomorrow.
Two weeks ago my coworker asked me for my shoe size (saying his sister was selling her Louis Vuitton shoes!!!) and for my address (for Christmas cards). I willingly gave up those answers and a couple hours later found out those questions were all a ruse (dang it i wanted those shoes)! But i got something even better- it turns out that my coworkers had bought me a #peloton bike as a “we love you” present and a “kick cancer’s ass” present. Y’all- i ugly cried at work because i was not only totally surprised but also was in shock. Their act of kindness was above and beyond anything that i could imagine. As i am going through these cycles of chemo i can tell that I’m slowing down and the side effects are worsening. I’m also realistic and know that my counts will trend downward and being out in public will be more and more difficult (this flu season is no joke). This bike is a perfect way to help me continue my exercise regimen in the setting of my own germs. lol. I am so thankful for my amazing coworkers and their generosity. I realize i will have to pay them back in lots of chocolate chip cookies and covering all the holidays once I’m done with chemo next year. 💙 Today the bike was delivered and i will do my first of many peloton rides. I am beyond excited and am so grateful for my coworkers.
Yesterday was the last day of #nationalcaregiversmonth and i wanted to give a shoutout to my better half, Carson Thomas, who took our wedding vows very seriously when he promised to love me “in sickness and in health.” Although we had dated 5 years prior to getting married, it is still a shock to enter into a marriage with one person facing months and months of treatment. Babe, i appreciate you carrying my ice packs to chemo, getting me #jimmyjohns when i don’t want to eat anything else, going with me to #orangetheory (because the couples that workout together, stay together 😜), and so much more. 💙 📷 by: High Cotton Studios
Last week i got a message from my provider saying that i had a gene abnormality come back on my genetic testing and i needed to see a genetic counselor. So i spent the last couple days freaking out (hello Pubmed literature searches). 🔬🔬 Today i met with a genetic counselor and we talked about my gene mutation, which is MSK3. Unfortunately all she could tell me is that it is of “undetermined significance.” 🦠🦠 Apparently the mutation is really rare- it is associated with colon cancer- but it also might not be contributing to my cancer…..i might just have bad luck. 💉💉
The good news is that nobody in my family needs genetic testing (Including my daughter and my siblings) so that makes me feel better. 🧬🧬 So for now, my gene mutation does not change my course of treatment at this time. It just makes me unique. And today was just another loop on this wild rollercoaster ride that is my cancer.
As i completed a workout today at Orangetheory Charleston, this was on the screen as we were cooling down (which i usually never stay for) and it spoke to me.
This is not news to anyone who knows me, but my diagnosis of stage 3 colorectal cancer was almost exactly 6 months ago. I have spent those months fighting for my life, attacking those cancer cells with radiation/chemo and surgery and am currently undergoing 6 more months of IV and oral chemo. I’m stubborn and hardheaded and determined- a perfect combo for kicking cancer’s ass.
But there are times when anxiety and fear are crippling because i worry about the unknown and “what could happen.” What if i have a complication? What if i can’t work? What if i have progression? What if i have to live my life glued to the toilet? What if i have to think about cancer every day for the rest of my life?
But today, I got a gentle reminder that it is about what i have, not what i don’t have. I have cancer but I’m living. I’m being treated. I’m working. I’m exercising. I have the support of amazing family and friends. And i have people all over the world praying for me and cheering me on.
And for those unknowns (that i currently don’t have but tend to worry about) – whether they happen or not, i will handle them when their time comes. Life will go on. And most likely, i will deal with them with the same determination and stubbornness i have right now. So for now, i am going to focus on what i do have. I am thankful for that reminder today.
I forgot to write an update 1.5 weeks ago when i started chemo. It really wasn’t that i forgot…..i got the chemo and then felt like i had been hit by a bus. Then 6 days later i felt better and went back to work and now, 10 days after i started it, i’m finally updating my blog. Such is life.
I am currently doing 6 months (8 rounds) of CAPEOX. That is Capecitabine (oral chemo) and Oxaliplatin (iv chemo). The IV chemo is an infusion at Hollings Cancer Center once every three weeks and then the oral chemo is something i take for 14 days, twice a day. Then i don’t take the oral chemo for days 15-21. And then the cycle starts all over again. I’m ALMOST done with my first round of the oral chemo (three more days), so i’m hoping the 7 days of no chemo at all will be GLORIOUS!
The oral chemo is the same one that i was on during radiation. It makes me nauseated. It can cause hand/foot sores (i’m trying to keep them moisturized and work out a lot to keep the blood flow going to them). I did ok on it the last time…..this time, it is just a lot longer time being on the medicine, so i hope the side effects are minimal. The IV chemo is a beast. Side effects are cold sensitivities (like not being able to drink anything but room temp liquids and requiring gloves when going into the fridge) and neuropathy (tingling in hands/feet). To combat both side effects, i am doing “icing” of my mouth, and hands and feet. I ate ice during my infusion and put cold packs in my socks and held a cold pack in my hands. I think it worked pretty well for the first infusion (although it scared my chemo nurse a little bit) and in the days after chemo i was able to eat icecream and i did not have any cold issues with my hands or feet. There is a journal article that came out this year (Journal of National Comprehensive Cancer Network, April 2019) that shows cancer patients who kept ice chips in their mouth during their oxaliplatin infusion reported that they subsequently developed less cold sensitivity in their mouths and could eat and drink with less discomfort compared to patients who did not keep ice in their mouth. I thought it was worth a try and i’m going to continue to do it as long as i can. 🙂
The IV chemo really kicked my butt. For the first few days, i spent most of the day sleeping. Slowly but surely i started feeling better after a couple of days and as i’m writing this, i’m feeling decent. Not 100% (not sure i will ever feel that way while doing this 6 months of hell) but good enough to work out and eat what i can and feel like a normal person. I’ll take it.
This picture sums up how i feel about the next step in my battle against cancer. 😂
In 2 weeks, on October 16th, i will start 6 months (8 cycles) of IV and oral chemo- Capecitabine and Oxaliplatin.
I am approaching this final step like i have approached the previous two steps in treatment: with minimal fear, a plan to work and workout as much as possible, with lots of prayers, and with my friends and family by my side. 💙