Monday, November 8, 2010

Chemo 1 of 9 (2nd cycle)

Monday, 8 November 2010

The diagnosis:
Breast cancer, stage II

The chemo plan so far:
1 Monday, every 3 weeks, for 8 weeks
Drug: FEC (as discussed in a previous blog)
TOTAL = 3 sessions
LAST SESSION = 18 October 2010

The NEW chemo plan:
Every Monday for 9 weeks
Drug: Taxol* (generic name Paclitaxel)
TOTAL = 9 sessions
LAST SESSION = 10 January 2011

So my day started with a quick black coffee and some Pronutro. Cath dropped me off at 8:45 and I went to "check in" at the hospital, got my blood taken and waited for Irene, my oncologist.

We discussed again the recommended Taxol drug I will be receiving from now on and the possible side-effects*, obviously. This is apparently not as hectic as the FEC. The main reason why they change my chemo drugs halfway during my 18 week cycle is to avoid longterm effects such as the toxicity (which causes the very sore veins and arms and makes your veins actually feel solid!). And the Taxol is a much "easier" drug with regards to these effects.

* Taxol: possible side-effects
  • numbness and tingling of the hands and feet (Peripheral neuropathy)
  • restlessness
  • heart palpitations
  • heartburn

The only downside is that there can be an allergic reaction. This they can establish by taking your blood pressure during treatment. But they only took my BP afterward the chemo session and it was 115 over 66, fairly normal, thank goodness! 

I first received the normal saline solution, to "open up" the veins. Luckily the nurse found a lovely vein without struggling, it wasn’t sore or anything, nothing like the last attemp 3 weeks ago. Then there are 3 bags of drugs including antiacids and cortisone. I can't now remember the third one.

After this the Taxol followed. It is a huge bottle (probably 1,5 litres) of clear fluid (no more FEC red devil!), administered through a drip, as previously. There is no pill form of Taxol. Just a while after starting the Taxol I felt very dizzy and disorientated and when I went to the loo the nurse had to help me a bit. I then started feeling very sleepy and dozed off a couple of times. I am just glad Cath brought me in and fetched me again as I can’t remember much although I did drive myself to hospital the previous time. During all of this, my best friend popped in twice, first to bring me a magazine, and the second time to see how I am doing. I remember vaguely talking to her, or should I say mumbling slurringly.

But from next Monday they half the dose of Taxol. So I think it will be much better then. I only finished well after 2 o'clock. Hopefully next week a bit earlier.

*Taxol: some info
  • Taxol is an anti-cancer ("antineoplastic" or "cytotoxic") chemotherapy drug. Taxol is classified as a "plant alkaloid," a "taxane" and an "antimicrotubule agent."
  • Taxol is used for the treatment of breast, ovarian, lung, bladder, prostate, melanoma, esophageal, as well as other types of solid tumor cancers.
I woke up this morning at 6 o'clock feeling well. I slept most of the afternoon yesterday after chemo. And i had a good might's rest. It's now 9 and I am still fine. I have a few admin things to attend to today and then work tomorrow.

I will try and post more often, there are very specific things I want to mention like my diet, medical aid and so on. After my last post I felt quite ashamed for moaning and bitching like I did. I realised soon after that that there are so many things I must be grateful for. I have the most amazing friends supporting me, praying for me and sending me good thoughts and love...I thank you all!

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