Cancer Treatment Update
It’s been months since I posted what is happening with me health wise. With the recent stay-at-home orders because of Covid-19, I am constantly reminded of chemo class. It was an informative and instructional class for patients before starting chemo treatment. Among the instructions were:
- For at least 5 days after treatment, do not be around anyone who recently received a flu vaccination.
- Do not be around recently inoculated children for at least 7 days.
- Avoid crowds and anyone who is sneezing and/or coughing.
- Use hand sanitizer after touching anything in public, and before eating when away from home.
- Spray your house with disinfectant after you’ve had company, and use disinfectant wipes on door knobs.
There were also suggestions such as getting enough groceries before treatment to last at least 2 weeks. Another suggestion was that if we had to go out for anything and felt weak, to wear a mask.
Chemo drugs decrease blood cells, including white blood cells that fight infection. My treatments were every three weeks. About three days after treatment is when the weakness, pain and nausea began. As one doctor explained to me, chemo drugs destroy dividing cells – normal and cancerous. It takes 7 days before the body replenishes those cells. Therefore, the third week after treatment is considered the recovery week. And then the process starts all over again with treatment.
As our Governors began instructing on physical distancing, staying at home, and shopping for enough groceries for two weeks to avoid numerous trips, I did not think it out of the ordinary. Although my last chemo treatment was in July 2019, my lifestyle has pretty much been the same as it was when receiving chemo. Who in their right mind wants to get sick from something contagious; that scientists and physicians do not fully understand; that has no cure; and can kill you?
If you want my opinion about the terrorists in the streets rebelling against stay-at-home orders, it is this; they are like people having an orgy without practicing safe sex because they don’t believe strangers might have STD’s.
The Post Surgery Journey
My last post-surgical chemo treatment was in July 2019. Since January 2019, my treatments were with Herceptin and Perjeta. I describe those drugs as paralyzers of Her 2 positive cancer cells. Once paralyzed, the immune system destroys them. Originally, I was scheduled for 6 post-surgical treatments. With my March pathology report finding no evidence of cancer; with my July 2019 PET scan showing no cancer cells, and my tumor marker score being 11, my oncologist cancelled the last 2 chemo treatments after I complained of Herceptin side-effects.
The side-effects had me weak from treatment to treatment with muscle pains progressing. I was also so congested that I could barely breathe through my nostrils.
What the July PET scan did show was a lymph node on the right side of my neck that was larger than it was in Nov. 2018. An Ultra Sound was not sufficient, so I was sent for a biopsy. The pathologist’s report for the biopsy found no cancer cells.
I was then placed on conservative follow-up care with a CT scan and blood work every 3 months. The January 2020 scan was interpreted to address my sinuses.
A side-effect of Herceptin is congestive heart failure. In February 2019 I asked my oncologist about taking COQ10. He said he didn’t think it would prevent the effects of Herceptin, but recommended I should take it anyway. So, I did. In July 2019 while still receiving treatment with Herceptin, I had another echo. The score of strength of my heart muscle increased by 5 points.
In October 2019, I began physical therapy. My therapist was wonderful! She works with mastectomy patients. Since 4 lymph nodes were removed from my right armpit, it stiffens at times. The exercises really help.
I entered the New Year port free. It had been a bit over a year since it was implanted, and was removed on New Year’s Eve. From time to time, there is still soreness where it was. The oncologist explained that my body became accustomed to having it and thinks that it needs to fill the gap with fluid.
I’m still dealing with some side-effects but they are becoming less and less. Although my previous oncologist prescribed a medication for the neuropathy in my left leg, I learned that flaxseed oil is a natural treatment, and it works for me. Oh – and my hair grew back so fast that I cut it last month.
The Big C Anxiety
Yes, I have the big C anxiety each time I experience pain anywhere, wondering if it’s cancer cells making a tumor. That is something most cancer patients experience.
I was referred to an allergist. It turned out that along with shell fish, malt, and soy bean oil, that I’m allergic to egg whites. Apple sauce turned out to be a great substitute for eggs when baking.
It’s becoming more difficult to find soy bean oil free products. The only store in my town that carries soy bean oil free bread is 10 miles away. A brand that once had no soy bean oil in salad dressing has now added it, and soy bean oil free tuna is 3 times the price as tuna that contains soy bean oil. Needless to say, I’m spending more time in the kitchen these days.
A benefit with having to prepare meals from scratch is that when Donald Trump was holding daily press conferences in the evenings, I didn’t see them because I was preparing dinner.
Back to Crocheting and Knitting
Since I was 13 years old, I’ve knitted and crocheted but other than caps and scarfs, I hadn’t taken on many projects in the last decade. Since July of last year, I’ve crocheted approximately 100 caps that I donated to Cancer Centers. Once I started, family and friends asked for custom caps, so of course I honor their requests. I’ve also taken on projects of vests and sweaters.
One of our local yarn stores has remained opened with curb-side pick-up, and they have some great sales.
In other words, I’m never bored staying at home.
I Want To Return To Blogging More
Three days a week, my personal assistant/homemaker comes. That is time I don’t get to spend online. I’m feeling up to writing more but have discovered a hindrance that is not associated with my health. The television in my office died. I gave it a great eulogy. It is a Zenith that I purchased in 1992. My computers are in my office so not having a television in my office to listen to and look up at means I spend more time in the living room.
Being in the living room and crocheting, means more television and less online time. I’m still not a fan of commercial television so I get caught-up in 2 hour movies.
That’s about all for my health update. I see my oncologist again in July but truly, I’m more concerned for Covid-19 patients now than I am about myself. With new discoveries of what the virus is doing to children, I’m not very encouraged that our country, indeed the world, will ever return to being the same.