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.
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.
I realize that i haven’t written in a while and i don’t really have an excuse for it. Life has been pretty boring since my 2nd surgery. I walk daily. I eat lots of protein (for wound healing). I let the dogs in and out and in and out and in and out (lol). And i’ve caught up on most of the tv shows that i had saved for my time off.
This upcoming week i have a couple of doctors appointments. I see my oncologist and will get confirmation on a start date for chemo (i think it will be October 16th). And then i see my surgeon for follow-up and hopefully get cleared to workout, lift something heavier than 6 lbs, and hopefully start back to work…at least part time work since i’ll be doing chemo.
I’m so thankful i’ve had an uneventful recovery and while the unknown of 6 months of chemotherapy is daunting, i’m ready to get started and complete the last part of my treatment!
I haven’t posted this on social media because i feel like i would be bragging. And i’m not bragging, i am sharing good news, but still it is hard to put it out there. It is hard to put it out there knowing some of my friends on social media are my “new cancer friends” (as carson likes to put it) and i worry that some of them might not ever achieve what i have or will achieve what i have but then will progress with another cancer occurrence. And then to add to why i don’t want to post it- i feel like i’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like i don’t deserve what i have and how quickly i have recovered. I am thankful that my journey has been free of any major complications (and i would like to keep it that way) but being a doctor, i know all the risks and problems that can plague cancer patients……so i’m just waiting for mine to happen.
But i have to acknowledge how great God is, and that i truly believe that He answered mine (and all of your) prayers. He heard us and was merciful to me, allowing me to achieve complete pathologic response!
Complete pathologic response is: The lack of all signs of cancer in tissue samples removed during surgery or biopsy after treatment with radiation or chemotherapy. To find out if there is a pathologic complete response, a pathologist checks the tissue samples under a microscope to see if there are still cancer cells left after the anticancer treatment. Knowing if the cancer is in pathologic complete response may help show how well treatment is working or if the cancer will come back. Also called pathologic complete remission.
So praise the Lord. The radiation and oral chemo killed all of the tumor and in the pathology report, there were no cancer cells left in the tumor!!! He is so good!
I have not done a good job keeping up with updates. I am sorry. I was busy with work. And then went on vacation. And then got married. And now i have been married for a whole week. People ask “how is married life?” And i tell them, that it is exactly like non-married life, except we are now married and not living in sin. 🙂
Carson and i were married on July 26th, which was our 5 year anniversary of meeting on Tinder. Yes, we met on Tinder. We both swiped right and talked that night (he was walking home from the bar after being dumped by not one, but two girls….he was dating both, and i was working overnight at the VA and it was slow), only to set up a date on July 31st at Edmund’s Oast. That night we ordered WAY too much food, had some good drinks, and made out in the parking lot. Classy, i know.
Fast forward almost 5 years later to February 2019, when we got engaged while on vacation in Mexico. Our plan then was to get married the following February at my parents house, having a large brunch reception for friends and family afterwards. We all know that my diagnosis changed those plans a little, as February 2020 would put me right in the middle of chemotherapy and i did NOT want to be a bald bride. We toyed with the idea of getting married at the courthouse but it seemed too impersonal for me. So we decided to get married on the 26th of this month, on our 5 year anniversary, surrounded by immediate family and loved ones. We were already going to be on vacation with his family, and my family (parents, sister, and brother and his wife and their two kids) came up for the celebration. And our good friends Duane and Lisa Price married us- DP got ordained on the internet and Lisa already had her South Carolina notary (DP likes to say he is “Holy AF” haha).
My life has felt like a roller coaster over the past three months, with dips and hills and flips, all while dealing with the emotional side effects of being diagnosed with cancer (and thinking i might die) and then starting treatment with radiation and xeloda. I am now currently awaiting surgery and my body is healing from the previous 6 weeks of treatment. However, on my wedding day, my rollercoaster ride stopped at the top of the hill and allowed me to view everything around me and enjoy. I was happy and carefree and married the love of my life- and not once during that day did i think about cancer. It was a perfect day.
I wanted to share these wedding pictures with y’all. I hope you enjoy them and can see/feel the love we shared that day.