Stupid Cancer

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Battling cancer is frustrating. It’s complicated. Cancer isn’t just one disease that acts a specific way, it’s many different creatures that have been categorized under a single umbrella. Different cancers, even different breast cancers, react differently to treatments. And each body reacts to the cancer and the available treatments differently.

I promised an update in an earlier post. Since then, I’ve hit a few bumps in the road. I’ve been stalling on writing this post because I don’t want this blog to turn into a venue for me to whine, but I’m also trying to provide a realistic look at what life with cancer is like – At least life with cancer for this one person.

I got my first dose of Taxol on August 9. The infusion went well and I came home feeling good. The trouble started after the Neulasta shot the next day. That was followed by extreme bone pain, especially in my legs. Pain so bad I ended up waddling like I did the last month of my pregnancy. My toes hurt, I had to wear flip-flops so nothing touched them. Then came the muscle aches. And on a Thursday evening, ten days after the Taxol infusion, I got hives. There were other side effects as well, but you get the picture.

Monday I went back in for the next round of Taxol and made a plan with my doctor for steps to mitigate the intensity of the side effects. I was ready to roll for round two. I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of my battle with this disease. Or so I thought. Within the first five minutes of the Taxol infusion I felt a deep burning pain in my lower back. If you experienced back labor during childbirth, you know the intensity of this pain. The pain then worked it’s way up my spine and when it got to my neck, my throat started to swell up.

Of course the nurses came running and my doctor was paged and showed up within a few minutes. The infusion was stopped and I was given Benedryl and Hydrocortisol and monitored to make sure the reaction stopped.

Then we started the Taxol again at a much slower pace. This is standard operating procedure. The idea is that I would be less likely to react to the Taxol if it goes in slower, especially after the Benedryl and Hydrocortisol. And for many patients receiving this chemotherapy, that is the case. A reaction is followed by a successful infusion and they proceed with the Taxol.

Yeah, that next dose didn’t work for me either. This time the reaction was quicker, but less severe. Just hives all over the place. So Taxol is off the table. We are back to the drawing board. I have another appointment with my doctor to discuss other treatment plans that may work well for me. We’re still fighting. I haven’t given up. I just have to find a new weapon to battle this beast. coffeejitters border pink

Seattle writer, Judy Schwartz Haley, blogs about raising a toddler while battling cancer, finishing a degree, and fending off ninjas. Also, she needs more coffee.
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