Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The End is in Sight

The end of chemo that is.  I am scheduled to get my last treatment on Friday.  My first treatment was Nov. 8, 2010.  Well, the first treatment for this go around.  It is funny, some people put the dates out of their heads.  I reamember all of them exactly, the surgeries and the chemo commencements. :)  I can't tell you the end dates on most of them though, just the beginnings.

I will continue getting IV drips of Zometa every three months.  That's OK.  I'll also have to go in monthly and get my port flushed.  My veins are pretty well gone after all this. 

Some people are often afraid to stop chemo.  I'm ready.  I know that it can come back after stopping, in fact I've had several friends have to handle that.  The good thing is that there are more treatment availble for people who have had breast cancer and failed on other chemo treatments.  I am constantly amazed at how much more is out there than there was 14 years. ago.

I'm also amazed at how the anti-nausea drugs have chnged.  CAF (Cytoxin/Adriamycin/Flourilacil or 5Fu) was hard for me.  The woman I sat next to two months ago was amazed that I had had a hard time with it in 1994....they have changed the nausea drugs and how they administer it so it is much easier now.

I'm looking forward to having my eyesight come back, then my sense of taste, and NOT having my tongue dry out at night.  I'm also looking forward to hopefully getting feeling back in my hands and feet.  It has been a bummer not being able to drive where I want when I want and not being able to read much.

I am less happy that the progress of developing new drugs is based often politics and money.  Drug companies don't put the effort into getting drugs certified if they are not going to make a lot of money on it.  People who have rare cancers often have to wait until someone either does an end run (not very common, but it has been done) or it becomes expedient.  Not what I like to think about.  I don't know what the answer to this problem is....I just want this scourge to stop...whether it is breast, pancreatic, ovarian, lung or whatever cancer. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Secrets to a Long Life from Walter Breuning

Not too long ago, Walter Breuning of Great Falls, Montana passed away.  He was 114 years old.  Last October, he was interviewed by an un-named AP reporter and left his keys to a long life.  They are as follows:

1.  Eat two meals a day.  "That's all you need."

2.  Work as long as you can.  "That money's going to come in handy."

3. Hlep others.  "The more you do for others, the better shape you're in. 

4.  Accept death.  "We're going to die.  Some people are scared of dying.  Never be afraid to die,.  ecuase you're born to die.

I don't think that Walter meant to roll over and give up fighting, nor that we shouldn't try to live a long life, just that death is a part of living and we shouldn't fear it.  Frankly, I have a lot I want to do before I die.  But that's a lesson too...we should try to do as much as we can while we can.  Time's a wasting folks and time is something  you can't get back. 

Tomorrow I go in for the beginning of my last series of chemo.  I'm hoping that I am able to make it through the next three sessions OK.  This last one was really hard.  Evidently that decadron buzz I used to get is a thing of the past...we'll see.  I've been really tired and my eyesight continues to degrade.  That supposedly will come back after quitting the chemo. What do I miss most? Not my hair (I did laugh when I was in the doctor's office last week and a woman said to me "that's alright dear, it will grow back."  I don't know what gave her the idea that the hair loss bothered me...especially since I was sitting there in my pink Old Navy baseball cap.

I'd rather my breast grew back if we were talking about growing things back.  I do hope, however, that some of the numbness in my hands and feet goes away. The inability to get information from my feet means that I'm unsteady.  I fell in the garden a couple of times this week and whacked off the cover on the electrical to the fishpond.  I'm just grateful I didn't fall IN the fish pond.

Hopefully, the muscle/nerve/bone pain I have will also get better.  One can always hope!  And I do!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blurry Vision

It's been an odd week.  I have found that the further along in chemo I get, the harder it gets.  OK, so you don't need an rocket scientist to figure that one out.  However, I had sort of scheduled my days depending on the "buzz" I get from the decadron in order to help me get things done.  The sleeplessness and extra energy helped counteract the days of lethargy.

However, last weeks treatment never gave me the buzz.  That's OK, because I really didn't like it, but still, it was nice to be able to catch up on things.  One of my Noble Circle Sister's who has been fighting a particularly nasty form of breast cancer longer than I have (well, she's been on chemo longer than I have) told me that after some time, the decadron didn't give her the energy either.  Today is the first day in a week which I have actually been able to stay up during the day and haven't gone to bed by 8:30 p.m.  This is my week off, so hopefully, I'll be able to get myself back in order before starting the next cycle next week.

I was beginning to get concerned.  You see, I went to my oncologist on Tuesday and was dumbfounded to have him say that I could stop.  While my markers have been falling, I was thinking that he would want them to be below 30.  I looked at him and told him so as well as telling him I'd prefer that they be 0 (not realistic) but would like them to be around 18  which isn't really a magic number, but the point at which I stopped when I was on Taxol in 1998. 

Granted...my eyesight continues to get worse, my hands and feet are VERY numb (I can't feel my feet at all when I'm barefoot on a carpet).  I have rashes on my arms, like gloves...in addition to the other side effects of Abraxane. 

I asked him what he thought about having me go one more round, a series of three weekly IVs.  He said that he often has patients ask him to continue for six more months.  I told him that wasn't realistic, but what about one more course, only because I wanted the markers to be a little lower so that my body could clean up the rest.  He told me that he was fine with that, that there was no right or wrong answer, but that he had watched me for years in the 40s (well, only a couple of years I think) and that he felt that my body was beginning to cry uncle. 

True.  It is.  At least with the fatigue I've had.  While I find it important to be able to participate in my treatment, sometimes I think that calling the shots is a bit scary.  I was wondering yesterday if I would be able to go for three more rounds.  Of course, preparing for my daughter's graduation and the party did take a lot out of me. 

Still...I could be done.  However, I think I am making the right choice.  One more, then I'll be done.  Hopefully, the pain in my hip will go away and I'll figure out some way to be able to be mobile and do the things I like doing.  One woman said that Abraxane was a horrible drug and that it ages you 20 years.  Frankly, I'd prefer to be aged 20 years rather than dead.  I am going to have to figure this one out and work hard at regaining my health.  Ah, the challenges of cancer survivors!  Figuring out the future can be a very foggy picture indeed!