Saturday, February 9, 2013

Die Tumor Die!

Slowly, I was getting closer to the end of my chemotherapy treatments.  My tumor was shrinking steadily.  We were all very excited.  Periodically, I would talk to my tumor.  Our one sided conversations would go like this:

"So.  You're still here."

"I see that you want to stay.  Well, you don't get to stay."

"You may have taken over my once fabulous boob but let me tell you this buddy.  You're gonna die."

"Oh what?  You don't like that idea?"

"Are you sad?  Good!  Die tumor!  Die!"

For the most part, it did die.  When the doctor did my mastectomy, some of the tumor had survived.  Fortunately, he was able to remove all of it from my breast.  Unfortunately, I also had some lymph nodes that were positive for cancer cells.  A portion of the lymph nodes were removed but I knew more therapy loomed in the future.

Why Is the Room Still Spinning?

When I began taking Adriamycin and Cytoxan, I faithfully followed my schedule of anti-emetics.  One of the pills affected me in a way that still makes me shudder with horror. 

A day or two after chemotherapy, I noticed that I was unsteady on my feet.  I wondered about this new cocktail being given to me but then shrugged off any worry.  The next day, my dizziness worsened.  The room began to tip back and forth.  I could barely get around the house.  Another day passed and the room began to spin.  I tried to stand but it was impossible.  I wondered if throwing up might stop the spinning but could not muster the courage to vomit.

It was summer time and my kids were playing rambunctiously in the living room.  I wanted to spend time with them so I lay on the floor and tried to watch them play.  It was like looking at the deck of a ship as it was angrily tossed about during a hurricane.  I hugged the floor and tried to focus on their fun. 

For four days, I lay on the floor of our living room.  Periodically, I would stagger to the restroom or shower like a drunkard.  Mostly, I slept.  Sometimes I watched the children out of one eye.  My husband is a hero to me.  He took on everything during those four awful days.  Finally, I stumbled to the kitchen to read the dancing description of side effects from each medicine bottle. 

As I read the list of side effects, I came to realize that my dizziness was caused by one of the medications.  How I despise those devil pills!  If I had a sling shot, I would send each capsule flying!

Chemo Comparisons

Chemotherapy, though harsh, has some interesting benefits. 

My first twelve rounds of chemotherapy were of Paclitaxel.  Paclitaxel was not very nice to me in some ways because my hair fell out in large clumps and I had some peripheral neuropathy happening.  However, the antihistamines and anti-emetics given gave me an incredible high that lasted for days. 

My thoughts would run like this:

"I'm here.  I'm cool.  I look like a harpy.  Dude."

"I see you talking to me but processing what you are saying just isn't happening.  I'll fake it."

"Are you upset with me today?  I'm high.  I don't care."

I could go on but we would just be delving into the ridiculous.  To summarize, Paclitaxel was my F-it Pill.

My next eight rounds of chemotherapy were of Adriamycin and Cytoxan.  That combination was very mean and the anti-emetics given were not as fun.  Adriamycin is aptly nicknamed the red devil for so many reasons.  My hands turned a dark, murky red-brown and my nails discolored.  I also spent four days lying on the floor watching the world spin but that is another story.