Friday, December 31, 2010

Thank You, May I Have Another? Chemo #2

Cross Stitch Art at a Vacation Rental House
Although I've never given birth, I've heard enough horror stories and watched enough televised accounts of women writhing in pain, screaming for meds, and evil eyeing the sperm donor while vowing never to put themselves in the stirrups again.  That's pretty much how I felt as I was being driven to the hospital after the Great White Blood Cell Crash from round #1.

The great irony of early stage cancer is that you don't feel a thing from the cancer, but the treatment is a royal bitch.  The prospect of repeating this scenario another five times made me quickly realize why some people just can't complete the treatments.  Who wants to deliver sextuplets, one at a time, every three weeks?

By the time I was released from the hospital and had a day or so to shake it off at home, I woke up and it was like the sicko to human switch was flipped.  I got up craving pancakes, was able to drink coffee again, and reintroduced butter and half and half.  Thankfully the lactose thing was temporary.

On Christmas I made these phenomenal pancakes, Cornmeal Blueberry with Spiced Maple Butter; unbelievably delicious.

I had a great week.  Lots of energy, hit the gym nearly every day, including my twice weekly strength training class,  cooked and ate well, had a little wine (the first time the idea sounded remotely appealing, although apparently my cheap wine gene has been chemo zapped).  I even felt well enough to work, and did a 3 entree/6 side meal package for one of my favorite clients.

My hair, which did start growing back from the buzz cut, is now falling out at an increasing rate daily; I've got hats full of fuzz.  And I am undergoing reverse puberty, if you get my drift.  (The Pocahontas artwork was in a house I rented with some friends last summer; clearly I will not need the help of woodland animals with my hair for quite some time).

My face was so dried out and scaly last week it was painful.  My Facebook fans suggested about every known remedy, many of which I tried, but it turns out the most expensive solution, a $43 tube of Kiehl's Centella Recovery Skin-Salve, has saved me from looking like an old man.  (Thanks to Teresa from The Dog Lived, and (So Will I) , for the tip).

Chemo #2 was uneventful on Wednesday. Yesterday, in what is hoped to be a solution to the Great White Cell Crash, I was given an injection of Neulasta, which is a white blood cell booster.  I didn't ask why I didn't get it last time.  Maybe because it's about $2,500 a pop.  Which is probably cheaper than the 3 days I spent occupying a hospital bed, so I am assuming my insurance had no problem authorizing it.  Neulasta's big side effect is bone pain.

While it's listed as 30%, a big deal is made about warning you.  I've decided to take the same tactic as for the nausea; expect to not have it, and you won't.  (27% of people who got the placebo claimed bone pain - what does that tell you?).  Of course, I had a shooting pain in my knee when I stopped at the market on the way home and nearly dropped the $8 Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Bar I was examining. I took it as a sign to buy the chocolate (it's delicious).  Just to be sure on the pain thing , I've been taking Advil.

So we'll see how it goes next week.  Certainly hoping for a different (uh, much better) result than last time.  Two down, four to go.


  1. Thank you for telling us how you are doing. It is hard for anyone to really understand someone else's illness or pain. And chemo is just a world unto itself.

    Four more after this????

  2. Kiehl's is awesome! Saved my skin too, so I'm glad it's working for you. (I got compliments on my skin during chemo thanks to that product; but I sort of suspect people were just looking for nice things to say to the bald, eyebrowless, steroid bloated me.) Sorry it's the most expensive, but to still a different product's're worth it.

    I had the Neulasta shot too, and for the same reason. No bone pain, just really really heavy feeling limbs.
    For what it's worth, I think the chemo treatments get easier because some of the fear/mystery goes away. Oh, and you don't have the blood cell crash...because, you know, you've now proved to the insurance company that you're worth the shot! ;-)

    All the best to you in the New Year (it's got to be better than 2010, right?)
    And now I'm craving pancakes....


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