Wednesday 23 May 2012

Losing Your Hair Hurts

When my hair started to fall out again on Saturday it hurt emotionally.  Since my hair had started to regrow this winter, I was close to going wigless.  Saturday's discovery meant that one piece of normalcy in my life had been snatched from my grasp.

By Sunday, I experienced a new pain, on my scalp.  Various parts of my scalp were sore when hair moved or touched a pillow.  Today, before showering (and plugging the drain), I pulled off as much of my hair as I could.  It took a long time, about my limit for standing. And it hurt, particularly on the top of my head.  Washing my hair was awful.  I stood under the shower wincing, nearly whimpering, as the water hit my tender scalp.  And even more hair fell out, short little bits that I could tell were from the new growth -- little guys that were just getting their start in life.

Maybe by the fall, I'll be off chemo and my hair will grow back for good.  Until the next round of Taxol.

P.S.  We saw my oncologist today and in response to the hair loss and aches and pains (which I hadn't realized were Taxol related), he is going to reduce my dose for Friday's chemo.  He's always trying to balance my quality of life against getting the cancer under control.

Saturday 19 May 2012

I Guess I Should Have Known

Warning:  this is definitely a TMI (too much information) post.

I guess I should have noticed that when I shaved my armpits the other day there wasn't much to shave.  I can hardly see without my glasses, but I should have known.  And this morning I should have noticed that my leg hair stubble wasn't very long considering I hadn't shaved in a couple of days.  But I just figured it hadn't been so many days.  And yet, when I washed my hair this morning I was shocked that it fell out in my hands. 

I was actually planning to go to out for breakfast without a wig for the first time since the fall.  I thought that my hair was growing back really well.  I almost went for a trim when Geoff went to get his hair cut yesterday.  But I should have known.

I thought I wasn't having any side-effects from the switch in my chemo dose.  Remember, the doctor combined my Taxol into one "serving" rather than splitting it over the course of two weeks.  At first I thought that doubling up might give me greater side-effects like nausea or fatigue.  But nothing happened after chemo, so I thought I got off lucky.  I should have known.

I wonder how comfortable my wigs will be now that the warm weather is here?  I wish I wasn't going to find out.

Sunday 6 May 2012

New Treatment Approaches for May

I went to the Pain Clinic on Tuesday, where they were able to check out my MRI results and let me know about the new compression fracture, which explained the pain in my back.  The Clinic gave me a new prescription. This time, for Naprosyn, aka Aleve, three times a day, with meals. I had stopped the Celebrex last month after it, paradoxically, made my joints feel swollen. The last straw was when my knees felt weak going down the stairs -- if I fall down the stairs now, I'll end up in a million pieces! I went back to ibuprofen until last week's appointment at the Clinic switched me over to Aleve. It took a couple of days to make a noticeable difference, but it's working now. It makes it much easier to get up of the couch to get another cup of tea!

Further to the April test results, on Wednesday, my oncologist has switched me to chemo once every three weeks. They had previously been splitting my dose of Taxol over two weeks. As of last Friday, I was given the full Taxol dose in one sitting.   I was a little concerned that my side-effects would be greater, but so far they have been minimal.  On Saturday, I had the standard moon face with hot, red cheeks.  My stomach felt a little iffy Friday night and Saturday night, so last night I took my Stematil.  I was expecting to feel quite tired today, more from Lena's marathon birthday party yesterday than from chemo, but I feel well.  I'm moving around well, without pain.  Feeling steady on my feet. 

I'm having one of those moments when I feel "like myself" and it feels good.

Test Results from April

I finally met with my oncologist last week to get the results of the tests I did in April:  CT scan, echocardiogram and MRI of the axial skeleton.  Good news all 'round.

The CT scan showed further shrinkage of the liver metastases and no new ones in other areas of the abdomen.  The shrinkage wasn't as dramatic as between the October and January CT scans, but it's still shrinkage and the doctor was happy with that.  It seems there are only two tumours larger than 1cm.  That's a huge improvement.  I'm just looking forward to a day when the liver tumours are countable rather than "numerous."

The echocardiogram was great again.  My results were high enough that I can continue to be treated with Herceptin.

The MRI of the bones had a little good, a little bad news.  It showed a great deal of healing of the bones in my lower spine and pelvis, which was attributed to the radiation treatment I had in late November, early December.  Unfortunately there is a new compression fracture in my spine.  The surprise is that it was not due to a cancerous tumour but to osteoporosis.  I have a strong family history of osteoporosis, and given my history of non-exercise and only medium consumption of dairy, I figured I would get it eventually.  It looks like the chemo treatment has actually brought the disease on early.  Like the other fractures, it should heal over time. 

So, good news for all of us that have been waiting.  Thank you all for your concern and good wishes.  They mean a lot to me.  See my next post for treatment changes.