I started chemo

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

No news is good news

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!

Pathology report and the best news ever.

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!

An Update

I have been really bad about updating because really nothing has been going on. Actually, let me clarify that, nothing cancer related has been going on.

I am 4 days away from my surgery date. I had to wait 8 weeks and 4 days to have surgery after my radiation, so here we are….the 8 weeks have flown by and we are in the final countdown. I’m ready. I’m scared. I know i have to have this surgery but it. is. surgery. I’m not a wuss and can handle the pain- i just don’t like the unknowns (hello type A over here). This is the time where i have to give up control and let the surgeon do his part and let my body do its part ( i have been incredibly kind to it over the past 8 weeks) and let God do the rest.

I really want to share some fun pictures from the mini-honeymoon that Carson and i took last week. It ended up that i had a couple days off, and i was able to get a co-worker to switch a couple shifts, and bam. I had 6 days off. And what better way to spend those 6 days but in Mexico? We bought tickets TWO days before we left and headed last Wednesday to Cancun, with my surgeon’s permission of course. He just said not to eat the ice (drink the water). Ok, so no blendy drinks. No big deal.

We booked 6 days/5 nights at Unico 20 87, which i have to say has been my favorite resort we have visited so far. It is closer to Tulum than Cancun, so a bit more of a drive, but the resort is 2 years old and absolutely gorgeous. https://www.unicohotelrivieramaya.com The name comes from the coordinates of where the resort is located, 20 degrees north and 87 degrees westย and is an all inclusive, (unlimited food, drinks, free wifi and a host of other amenities). The resort is modern, and beautiful and swanky. The food is unreal- from chips and guac to hotdogs by the pool, to steak, to seafood- and the 4 restaurants (+ room service, + two bars by the pool that served food) did not let us down. They also have an app that you download to your phone- it is easy to use – you can request a turndown service, make dinner or spa reservations and read up on all of the restaurants. It also tells you all the cooking classes that are scheduled, the activities of the day, and what the nightly entertainment is.

I will also reiterate that Carson and i felt TOTALLY safe traveling to Mexico and while at the resort. The drinks were strong (not tainted) and we never had a bad encounter. We loved Unico so much that we will be going back…and we usually try a different resort each time we go to Mexico, but this place is so amazing that we want to go back. We had the most perfect mini-honeymoon. ๐Ÿ™‚

When my hot flashes were actually fevers…..

So i got married on July 26th and didn’t go on a honeymoon (mistake number 1) and went back to work on the 29th. As a physician in the ER, i see patients with a myriad of complaints, most commonly back pain, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Well, somewhere over the first day or two of my work week, someone coughed on me (at least that is what i’m thinking).

By Thursday (Aug 1), i had body aches and muscle soreness and thought that i was just struggling getting back into an Orange Theory routine and was sore from working out (mistake number 2). I continued to work out and went to bed early the next couple of nights. Then Saturday (Aug 3), i developed right sided chest pain, worse when i took a breath in. And i was still having body aches and pains. And at night i would cough (not a big deal) and would be hot and then cold, which i thought were just the joys of my new menopause (mistake number 3). I continued to have the chest pain on Sunday while at work and decided that i had a Pulmonary Embolism (blood clot).

I already had a CT scan set up on Monday, the 5th, from my oncologist to look to see if there was any metastatic disease that had occurred while i was getting treatment. After the scan was done, i asked them if i could take a look at it.

My pneumonia

So there it is in all its glory (this is just one picture, and it is a bit larger than it looks in this picture). Oh, and for those of you who are not radiologists or pulmonologists or trained to read CT scans, you are looking at a slice of the thorax. The black is air, the heart is in the middle, and on the left side of the screen, there is my pneumonia in my right lung. The CT scan is read opposite of real life, so when you look at the picture and it looks like the pneumonia is on the left side, that is actually the right side. Picture a person laying in front of you, with their head up top and their feet closest to you) and you start slicing them like bread. When you look at them, what you are seeing on the left side, is actually THE PATIENT’S RIGHT SIDE. Make sense?

So i have a pneumonia. Not a blood clot. Not cancer in my lungs. Just an infection, which by the way, is easy to treat. 5 days of antibiotics. In hindsight, my body aches and fevers (not hot flashes) should have triggered me to think i might have had an infection. And my chest pain was actually pleursy, also from the infection. But now i know and have a plan for treatment and will most likely get an xray prior to surgery to make sure it is gone.

Isn’t cancer a wild ride?

One Week Anniversary

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

My 1/2 birthday

Today i am 40 and a 1/2 years old. I usually celebrate my half birthday, as it was a tradition in our family when we were kids. But i actually didn’t realize it was my half birthday until i looked at my Facebook memories and saw that 11 years ago i announced that i was 29 1/2 years old, and 10 years ago i announced that i was 30 1/2 years old. Ahhh, to be young again. ๐Ÿ™‚

And now today i’m 40 and a 1/2 years old. And i have cancer. That is all that i can think about now.

I know i will make it to 41 and then 41 and a 1/2 and so on and so forth, but my perspective is different. Unfortunately cancer makes you worry that you wont see those years. I do have my fears but most of them are irrational and i have to be talked down from a ledge that i shouldn’t be on in the first place. Carson has been a source of strength and tolerance/patience that i don’t always feel like i deserve….i go down this rabbit hole of “doom and gloom” and have to be pulled out.

Anyway, today i’m 40 and a 1/2 years old. I am fortunate to be here. I am looking forward to many many years of celebrating 1/2 birthdays in the future.