Sunday, July 09, 2006

Taxol Dayz

Hi folks. I'm happy to report that my relatively long silence reflects a more positive chemo experience. After finishing my 4 cycles of AC (why do they call them "cycles"? I have no idea), I was switched to a drug called a "taxane," which is another of the "big guns" that are directed against more daunting tumors, such as mine. I'm now on Taxol for 4 cycles (1 down, 3 to go--the next is on Tuesday). And I'll take Taxol over AC any day.

The bad news is, I am one of the substantial minority of people who are allergic to Taxol. I've described my reaction before so I'll spare you that again, but now I can look forward to a jumbo dose of Benadryl every time I go in for chemo. (That, coupled with the Ativan they have lined up for the increasing anxiety I feel every time, pretty much renders me a semi-conscious rag doll.) After dose 1, for the first couple of days, everything felt pretty normal. Then on Thursday, I started having aches and pains. Initially, it felt like I'd played some hard hours of volleyball for a few days; my muscles were sore and my bones felt like they'd been used as battering rams. After a while, the pain got more intense.

I just lived with it for about 24 hours, but after a very sleepless night Thursday, and several hours of strong waves of pain on Friday, I called the oncology staff. A few hours later, I downed my first Vicodin, which took the edge off but didn't bring me below the "bearable" threshold. After that, I upped the dose to two Vicodin, and that pretty much wiped out the pain. Two days of constant Vicodin (with accompanying wooziness and inability to drive), one day of sporadic half-doses, and then the pain mostly went away. With no nausea and no other major side effects (a little--very little--indigestion was the only one remaining), I actually started to feel almost normal! True, my energy is still way below par. But being on Taxol--so far--has really been so much better. Even my brain is working a bit better.

In the past week, we've celebrated the 4th of July and our 6th wedding anniversary (on the 8th). Of course, the meaning of "celebrate" is different this year. In our lives B. C. (before cancer), we would probably have gone out of town somewhere for the whole stretch, and engaged in some fun activities (hiking in Yosemite; kayaking and snorkeling at Catalina Island). At the very least, we'd both have played volleyball at the beach or some such active pursuit. Now, I don't think I could last 10 minutes playing volleyball in the sand; my half-hour walks are taxing, and if I try to do too much during a day I just get wiped out--usually in an instant, when I don't expect it.

So on the 4th we had to be contented with fireworks and dinner--not bad, really. The Redondo Beach fireworks, launched from a barge just off the pier, were so close to our house that we walked down to the edge of the marina with Kibble and watched the display over all the tethered boats. It was quite charming and uncrowded, and Kibble didn't show any fear of the explosions--in fact, he didn't seem to care at all, which was great.

I'd prepared burgers, asparagus, and goat-cheese scalloped potatoes, but when Noah went to light the grill and make the burgers, he discovered that our gas tank was empty. So we packed up the food for the next day, and went to the Manhattan Beach Brewery for a late dinner.

Yesterday, for our anniversary, we had dinner with friends Paul and Leanne, who live out in the Valley (but--lucky for them, not for us--are moving back home to British Columbia in the next few months), and Maia. Kibble got to come again, and frolic in the backyard with Paul and Leanne's golden retriever puppy, Brodie. It was a very pleasant evening, and good to spend our anniversary with other people--just as we spent our wedding day.

My mom comes out to visit on Wednesday, for a week. My dad was here just a few weeks ago, too, and a week after my mom's departure, Noah's sister Sarah and her husband Tom will be here. Through the time that remains, for chemo #6 I get a visit from mom, for chemo #7 we get a visit from Sarah and Tom (with a quick trip to SF thrown in), and then I will only have one last treatment before I am done. That light at the far end of the tunnel is getting bigger and brighter, and thanks to the Taxol I feel like I'm picking up speed.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

RIYMSLEA (random, indecipherable yet meaningful, supportive, loving, encouraging acronym)

Heidi and Sarah Face The Day said...

Happy Anniversary! We are counting down the days until we see you. We can't wait. Sorry to hear you have had some troubles with the new stuff but glad to hear you are feeling a bit better and getting closer to the end of these "cycles". I've got Lush for you and some other goodies! Let me know if you need chocolate or anything else from here. We're going to have fun together in a few weeks! Really looking forward to it! -Love Sarah (and Heidi says HI!)

Upstater said...

Happy Aniversary and sounds that you spent it well. Good for you. I admire your courage. Isn't blogging great it lets you vent your inner feelings!!!!!!!!

rebecca flowers schamess said...

I am so glad to find your blog, and to hear how far you've come along -- yay!

I'm going to go back now and read all your posts -- you look so pretty in your pics, and I'm happy just to see your face!

Jenny said...

Thanks, everybody, for the good wishes! It is nice to feel better (yesterday was chemo #6--I'm now 3/4 done, with only 2 to go!) and to celebrate our anniversary. I appreciate Noah more and more through all of this.

Welcome, new readers! It's great to hear from you. Rebecca, I've been lurking in your blog for so long--some day I'll have to log in and comment myself. We are eagerly following the developments on your novel and the medical practice. Andrew's blog makes us wish he were around here--we want a family doctor like that!! Thanks for the Buddhist tip, further down--I've bookmarked the podcast links from your blog and those are great, and Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Hanh have really helped me get through this.

Sleater-Kinney said...

Your erudite leanings and preenings
Are subject to my repeated screenings
Looking for some hidden meanings
In your sixteen weeks of inductions and weenings
Through eight long cycles of cancer-cell cleanings
Soon to reach their long-sought end
So at last your body can mend
Against all future cancers it will defend
And on that you can depend
Your fullest life you will resume
The Department and volleyball, all back in tune
Your hair, your energy, you will exhume
From their temporary, chemo-induced tomb
And though, I offer you this special rhyme
As I've told you a thousand times
If you think you've got a rhyme
We're gonna have to fight
Cuz I jus' wrote a suppa def ryhme last night
HTMYF?

Anonymous said...

hmmm. left a long comment day before yesterday...must have sent it off into the ether! anyway, love you. Dad

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