It's a day that all patients look forward to. LAST CHEMO! It's filled with good and bad. Good because, well- it's the last one. Bad because you still have to go through the 4.5 hours of treatment, suffer though the mounting side effects and start on the road to getting back to "normal" - whatever that is.
My day started SUPER early. I had an 8:30am appt. with my favorite surgeon Dr. Bob! He is doing my genetic testing for the BRCA breast/ovarian cancer gene. Since I was having chemo right from Dr. Bob's, he just gave me the test (it's a kit in a box that gets mailed to a lab and they charge $3000 to do it) and asked for the nurses to pull the blood from my port at chemo for the test. It will take about 10 days to get the results, and we'll just go from there. Obviously if it's negative there's not much to do. If it's positive, ugh... a long road just got longer. I'll see a genetic counselor and have multiple consults with my docs to determine our next step. So basically we wait and see.
So from Dr. Bob's I fought the Paoli Hospital construction traffic and cruised up the street for Chemo. I was actually EARLY for my appt. today, I am notoriously late, but only by 5 minutes or so. I still had to wait forever and was totally bummed to see that I've gained 11 lbs since November! That's more weight in less time than when I was pregnant!! Yikes! CURSE you Steroids!!!!! The other bummer was to find out that I'm now anemic from the chemo. This is different from TYPICAL anemia, so don't tell me to eat red meat or whatever. It doesn't matter. The chemo drugs attack rapidly growing cells, including my red-blood cells. So until the chemo is out of my system this will continue to happen. I received an injection of Aranesp for my red blood cells which works like Neulasta for white blood cells. The Aranesp injection HURTS LIKE NOTHING ELSE. It burns and I was not prepared at all for it. I was hooting and hollering in pain. And I am pretty good at tolerating pain at this point! I'll continue to have my blood counts checked and get the injections until my levels are back to normal. FYI- my white blood cells have been awesome the entire treatment (thanks to the Neulasta).
First I had my Herceptin infusion which runs pretty short now, about 30-40 minutes. After that I had my 4 hours of Taxol. I swear it multiplies in the IV bag. Every time I'd look at the bag it would still be full. It runs really slow so I do not get organ damage and excess peripheral neuropathy (numbness). I brought No Country For Old Men to watch and ummm....I didn't really get it. The Chemo room was a little rowdy, and I was heavily medicated so maybe that was distracting. I love the Cohen brothers movies, but this one...hmmmm....I might try to watch it again, considering it got 94 Rotten Tomatoes, and that's about as good as it gets! And an Oscar ain't that bad either...
After I was done chemo I decided to "ring the bell"...just a little bit. It's a tradition for cancer patients after their last treatment. Since I still have 15 more Herceptin infusions, I feel like I'm not really done with treatment...just done with the hard part. It was exciting, but not really what I thought it would be like. No jumping up and down, or popping champagne like when the Phillies won the World Series. It's a personal accomplishment, others can feel happy for me but it's really my journey. It will be more exciting in November when I'm done the herceptin!
On the way home I swung by KOP Mall to continue the search for pants...thank you Old Navy. I found 3 pair of "athletic" pants and I will rock them until I can lose a few lbs. and get back into my 10 pairs of Lucky Jeans just sitting in my closet. I got a little carried away when I got skinny (aka back to normal) over the spring....
So the day started for me when I left the house at 7:30am, I got home at 4:30pm. Yeesh! I am glad to be over these marathon chemo sessions!! Mike and Lilly had fun together today. They re-registered for Lilly's Preschool next year. Mike had to enjoy that...he was making fun of all the "showy" moms...the moms I don't talk to at drop off...the ones that don't open the door for me even though some days I hardly have the energy to walk up the pathway to the school building. Mike's comment..."I'm glad I married you." awww...how sweet. I might be a total people watcher, but I really try to be nice to everyone. Wish other people had that same mentality.
When I got home the side effects from the Herceptin and Aranesp started to kick in. Herceptin- achy joints, heavy limbs- like when you have the flu. I felt like a mummy wrapped up all tight and unable to move. It was really, really bad the last time, but today it was pretty minimal, maybe for like an hour. (Thanks goodness, if the severe side effects continued, my Dr. was considering putting me on the "old Herceptin" schedule which is basically a smaller dosage EVERY WEEK FOR A YEAR!!! Opposed to what I get now- a large dose every 3 weeks for 1 year) The Aranesp - swollen hands/feet and a tiny headache.
I was utterly exhausted tonight and decided to take "a nap" for 45 minutes after dinner. That was at 6:45pm. Mike TRIED, probably twice to wake me up but I was so tired, I slept until 11pm...and that's why I'm up now blogging at 1am!!! Now I'll have to stay up a little bit more so I can fall back asleep! Oh well, I feel pretty good so I can't complain that much! My docs said it will be about 4 weeks (if the anemia goes away quickly) before I start to feel "like me". My hair is still growing/falling out, and it's just generally itchy.
So that was my big day! NO MORE CHEMO!!!