Round 7

Round 7

Hi, everyone! I took a little break from blogging last week because nothing too eventful happened honestly!

I finished my 3rd taxol (7th treatment overall) today – this means I’m 1/4 of the way through the taxol treatments (gotta celebrate every little victory)! After next week, I’ll be half way done with chemo ❤ So far this one is a piece of cake compared to the AC “red devil,” and I’m grateful for that.

I give attention, appreciation, and acceptance to everyone.

Deepak chopra

I have had some difficulty keeping my blood work normal. This isn’t uncommon, but I’m really competitive so I want everything in the normal range. My white blood cell counts came back low the past 2 weeks and my doctor lowered my chemo dose last week but decided to try that same dose again this week. With low white counts, I’m at a very high risk for infection, so I honestly haven’t left the house or interracted with anyone besides my husband and doctors in the past 2 weeks. Justin agreed to work from home for a few weeks until our spike in COVID cases improves to keep both of us and his immunocompromised patients healthy.

In order to boost my white count they gave me a series of 2 injections of Zarxio last week and I’ll also have 2 more tomorrow and Saturday. Zarxio is similar to the Neulasta/Udenyca injection I had after AC but is a “short release” versus “delayed release” action. We’ll see how it goes – if my counts don’t come up high enough, we may have to lower the chemo dosage again. These injections were a killer last week and gave me body aches, tailbone pain, and hot flashes – maybe I missed that with the Udenyca because I was so sick otherwise!

My red blood cell counts and hemoglobin/hematocrit are also low which puts me at risk for anemia. It’s not terrible, but I’d rather it not drop any lower. I’m keeping up with exercise and an iron-rich diet in hopes to keep it up as much as I can.

I’ve also seen my liver enzymes rising which my oncologist contributes to the chemo itself and not to any other medications or supplements I’m currently taking. My acupuncturist recommended a milk thistle supplement to help the liver clear those drugs out of my system, so I’ll give it a try. There is very little research to say it’s helpful, but a lot that says it doesn’t cause any harm, so why not? I’m also going to acupuncture weekly and this has been a lifesaver as she focuses heavily on my liver and kidneys as well as preventing any peripheral neuropathy.

Anyway, that’s all that’s new here. I’ve been working, watching a lot of Netflix, and took an excellent business training based on Human Design this week. If you haven’t heard of human design, I highly recommend you look into it! Check out my friend www.krystalewoods.com/humandesign (or @krystalewoods on instagram) to learn more!

I’ve been using guided meditations from Deepak Chopra the past several weeks and the quote above really caught my attention. I hope it can be a centering thought for you this week as it has been for me. Take note of all the beautiful people and things in your life and give them your attention, appreciation and acceptance. No one is perfect, but we all do our best.

Hope you all have a great weekend – stay safe and healthy! Sending you all lots of love.

xo

Round 5

Round 5

We’ve hit another landmark in the active treatment phase! I say we because I absolutely could NOT do this without the support of all of you so thank you! I started a new chemotherapy regimen yesterday which is a cocktail of paclitaxel and carboplatin (TC).

TC is a weekly regimen that will last 12 weeks. Thankfully, these treatments are not “dose dense” like the adriamycin/cytoxan treatments that I just finished and everyone keeps telling me it shouldn’t be “so bad.” Judging by my current reaction to yesterday’s treatment I’d say they’re right. I honestly felt like I tolerated the AC treatments extremely well, but I feel really great today so I’m hoping it continues this way over the next few months.

“It always seems impossible until it is done.”

– Nelson Mandela

Of course, I know these treatments are cumulative so I do imagine side effects will build up as I undergo more treatment, but as usual, I’ll continue to stay as healthy as possible otherwise and pray that my body handles the rest. I feel very strongly that radically changing my diet and continuing to exercise has made ALL the difference.

Speaking of side effects – TC still compromises the immune system, but to a lesser effect than AC did (good news since Hawaii is currently seeing a major spike in COVID cases – ok, I guess I’ll admit my doctor was right to start me with AC when she did even though I was NOT happy about that at the time). TC is also less likely to cause extreme nausea/vomiting, GI upset, or mouth sores, although all are technically possible.

Unfortunately, the combo of TC is much more likely to cause symptoms of chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). CIPN can show up as:

  • Damage to sensory nerves which creates numbness/tingling, burning/shooting pain, or cramping in the hands and feet which can make it difficult to balance or to perform fine motor skills like buttoning buttons or writing. It also can cause sleep disturbances as pain is typically worse in the evenings/at night.
  • Damage to cranial nerves which are nerves that leave the brain in the skull and control our sensations like vision, hearing, smell and taste as well as some of the muscle control of our face and neck.
    • If the vestibulocochlear nerve is affected, a person may have hearing loss but, maybe more importantly, if the vestibular portion of that nerve is affected, a person may experience “vertigo” symptoms like dizziness or imbalance which can increase risk of falling.
    • Another cranial nerve that is commonly affected is the hypoglossal nerve which controls the movements of our tongue. This can lead to difficulty eating and swallowing.

As a physical therapist, these things obviously concern me, especially to have sensory changes in my hands, because I rely on my sensation heavily to treat my patients. There are a few pieces of good news, though – it can be prevented by taking certain supplements (I’m taking a vitamin B complex, glutamine, vitamin D, and fish oils per my oncologist’s ok), icing my hands and feet during my taxol infusion (NOT fun! I may have cried while talking to my dad on the phone because it was so painful while I was waiting for the numb to kick in – sorry, Dad!), and doing acupuncture. The other piece of good news is that if I do happen to develop these symptoms, they are not always permanent and often improve within the first 6 months after treatment is over.

It still feels good to have AC behind me so I’m in pretty good spirits and feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for chemo at least. In regular life, I dropped off our ballots today – make sure you get out and vote in your primaries if you haven’t already! I’m still working on my Pilates teacher training – if you haven’t joined in for free Wednesday night Zoom Pilates, please join us! Send me an email here for the Zoom info!

Hope you all are doing well and staying safe & healthy in pandemic time! Sending lots of love & light your way ❤

xo