For the Sake of My Sanity
I had my 8th and final chemo treatment today, for the sake of my sanity. Cancer treatments come with a lot of decisions, unknowns and best guesses.
I am in a study that tracks my chemotherapy side effects, last Friday my responses must have set off bells, whistles, sirens and all sorts of noisy contraptions. The Nurse Practitioner assigned to follow me called me to get the details on my neuropathy (and pain, I have had an unusual amount of pain, and it extends for a longer period of time than it should). She wanted to start me on Nuerontin (Gabapentin) which is a drug for neuropathy.
She called my Oncology nurse to verify that it was ok to go ahead and prescribe the medication. The Oncology nurse called me to get the details. My feet and left fingers feel like they are asleep constantly, it showed up almost a week after my chemo treatment and hadn’t gone away. I would also get tingles shooting up and down my calves and upper arms, which my hands and feet went asleep off and on many many times before the sensation stuck around. She talked to my Oncologist who determined that the risks associated my my neuropathy may warrant that I not have another chemo treatment.
This sent me in a tailspin. I know that the reason they set up the treatments the way that they do is because they have tested their effectiveness in various groupings, using a different order, against different types of tumors etc. They opted to use a very aggressive chemotherapy treatment on me (every two weeks rather than every three weeks, Adriamycin which is one of the heavy hitters etc.). I thought about it a lot the past week as they told me that we could talk it over and decide today what to officially do.
The Oncologist medically felt like the additional Taxol treatment could have about 1% impact on chances of recurrence (which to me is A LOT), and that medically I did not require it. Her best guess on my neuropathy is that it will probably stick around for a year or so, and it could get worse with a final treatment. They were also concerned about my pain levels. She put it all out there, but I knew that if I didn’t do the final dose I would spend the rest of my life wondering if I should have done it. I don’t intend on doing chemotherapy again, so I decided that I wanted to go ahead and do the entire chemo treatment plan for at least the sake of my sanity (AND my song and certificate, you can’t forget the song and certificate).
She lowered the dose by 25% and opted to not give my my Nuelasta shot (although we are saying we did it for the plastic surgeon, she felt like my immune system will not take a dive on this amount of Taxol, the Nuelasta was a “just in case”). The Nuelasta shot could be involved in creating the bone pain I have been experiencing and they want to do what they can to keep the pain down. They also upped my Lortabs to a bit higher strength for those first few days that walking is a challenge.
So, 8 out of 8 chemo treatments complete, I am DONE! Just have to make it through the side effects next week. We also were able to bump up my surgery to the 22nd of June, and there it sort of stays… I am getting a second opinion from another plastic surgeon Tuesday, just because I want to explore my options on fixing the sad and sorry lack of a breast. Moving up the surgery date means I get to start radiation a week earlier also. Yay!