HOORAY! HOORAY! HOORAY!

Thursday was my last chemo!

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My sister, in her usual stylish, creative and crafty ways, made me an awesome sign, balloons and “corsage” to wear. It was a great feeling to know I was there for the last time!

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We wanted to show the nurses and staff our appreciation, so my mom delivered 3 chick-fil-a breakfast trays, fruit, juice and tea; plus a huge bagel & cream cheese tray from panera from my sister-in-law and mother-in-law. And two giant “Launching Arrows” cookie cakes. Everyone was so grateful and appreciative (and sufficiently full)!

This sweet man was sitting next to me today and, coincidentally, it was also his last chemo day. We couldn’t have all the pomp and circumstance without including him, so he had his picture made with my sign too! He was so sweet and his wife too. We got some of just him as well and texted them to his wife.

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After the pre-party, it was chemo as usual which means I slept hard for a good hour in my benedryl coma. I woke up to the bells of the IV pump and this empty bag of Taxol.

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I’m so glad to have this part of my journey behind me, but I will say it’s going to be strange not being there every week, seeing my fellow survivors, all the nurses who’ve taken such great care of me and the staff who know me by name. I’m going to miss that part of it.

I’m NOT going to miss the chemical feeling in my stomach, the aches from my shots, the fatigue, the port flushes, finger/toe nail issues, neuropathy, and many other unmentionable side effects. Although I’m learning that not all of them disappear right away, so I’m going to have to find some patience on some of these.

Now it’s on to the next phase. Surgery. My date is set. On May 14, which happens to be my dad’s 70th birthday, I will have a double mastectomy. I’m nervous about it, but I love my surgeon and have 150% trust in him and his team. And I know so many others have gone before me in this phase with success and tell me it’s no problem. So I’m ready.

Following about 4-6 weeks after my surgery, I will begin 6 weeks of radiation. Three-ish months after that, I will begin the reconstruction process. I met with the plastic surgeon who will do that phase this week as well. Most likely that will be multiple surgeries. I’ll be having what’s called a latissimus dorsi flap surgery, where an oval flap of skin, fat, muscle, and blood vessels from my upper back will be used to reconstruct the breasts. It’s a little more involved than I was planning, but it’s what all three of my doctors recommend, and I trust them.

The good news is, barring any unforeseen issues, I should be able to fit all this in during this calendar year, which is my hope because I’m close to my annual out of pocket maximum and I don’t want to start over!

But regardless! I’m DONE with chemo
and I have no intentions of having to endure it again. Thank you to everyone who has been by my side on this phase of my journey. I couldn’t have done it without so much support. I love you all! So goodbye forever, chemo! And HOORAY!

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Carbo in the Past Tense

I am done with Carbo! Despite my counts still being low last Thursday (900 when I needed 1000), they allowed me to have my treatment of Carbo and Taxol anyway. So I finally got in that third dose, and I am officially done with Carbo! It’s nice to have another piece of chemo in my past. While I didn’t feel great this weekend (or today for that matter), it wasn’t terrible either. So I’m grateful for that too. 

The catch to being able to get my treatment was adding in Neupogen shots. Yes, you recognize the “Neu” because it is the baby cousin of my frenemy, Neulasta. Neulasta shots were the shots I received to boost my white count while I was undergoing the A/C portion of my treatment. Neupogen are baby Neulasta shots that boost your count for 24 hours instead of 10ish days. 

I received three vials of pre-filled Neupogen shots on Thursday with instructions to give myself injections on Fri, Sat and Sun in 24-hour intervals. And yes, the same side effects were expected and occurred as Neulasta. Soreness all over, even to the slightest touch. Not fun. I personally don’t think the Claritin/Aleve combo does much of anything to help, but who wants to try not using that combo to see if it is worse. Not me. I don’t want worse. 

Today, I went back to the doctor for a re-do of my labs to see if I have to keep giving myself shots this week or if I can stop. Good news, I get to stop! Until Friday that is. But, I’ll take 4 days of not sticking myself (or having Brent stick me, he’s a great needle sticker, btw, despite his normally queasy stomach. It’s actually less painful when he does it vs. me doing it myself).

After my treatment this coming Thursday, I will follow the same protocol of 3 days of shots. Same for the next treatment the following Thursday. But after that, I AM DONE…with shots and WITH CHEMO! The countdown has officially started. On April 17, barring any crazy issues with my body, I will receive my last chemo treatment. That is just 10 days from today. The end is in sight, and I’m beginning to feel the relief. 

In other news, my hair has oddly started growing back. I’ve read the same thing happened to others in my same experience. Mine started as soft, white peach fuzz. It’s starting to turn darker now, but still very sparse. In a week or so, I might have a decent covering. I’m not sure what the recent dose of Carbo will do to kill off what little has started growing back, but it’s interesting nonetheless. I have a long way to go to get to pre-chemo hair, but I’m excited about the mini-head start (no pun intended). 

Next week, I meet with both my plastic surgeon and my regular surgeon (on separate days) so will know more about what the next 6 months hold for me at that point. For now, I’m excited that the last 6 months are soon to be behind me!