Medical Update ~ 11/25/17
I hope and pray that you all have been blessed by this week of Thanksgiving as I much as I have been...it's truly been an overwhelming and humbling week for me having both my birthday and Thanksgiving packed into one week. So many ways that people have reached out to me this week with thoughtful words, cards, and gifts, and I've gotten to spend so much time with a family who never fails to show me how much they care. I even received my first birthday card from my grandchildren! I am just so incredibly blessed. 💗
My chemo day is typically Thursday, but it was pushed to Friday so I could enjoy Thanksgiving with my family. A beautiful friend cooked over two days for me, then delivered an amazing Thanksgiving dinner with all the traditional trimmings and more just so that my family could enjoy our dinner without any preparation. I was blown away at her sacrifice of time and energy, not too mention the cost of cooking for a family as large as mine. It was quite possibly the most delicious Thanksgiving meal I have ever enjoyed. I am just so incredibly blessed. 💗
A significant part of my hair fell out with the last dose of chemo - I had no choice but to shave what little I had left. My scalp has been extremely sensitive to the touch this week - I discovered it's due to the inflamation in the follicles of the hair that is falling out. It actually feels bruised, as it would if I hit my head, only all over. It was even uncomfortable to lay my head on a pillow. To relieve the pain, they suggest cutting the hair short - not completely off or there are more problems - then washing it with baby shampoo and letting the water run to help the hair fall out. When the hair falls out, the inflamation reduces. It was suprising to me to discover just how much relief I found in letting the rest of my hair fall out! My head feels SO much better today ~ I am so thankful for the medical resources available to me, and the patient and caring medical staff serving me. I am just so incredibly blessed. 💗
I finally made the decision to go with scarves over wigs for few reasons: the wigs are uncomfortable, especially on my sensitive scalp, and they just don't look natural to me - I feel like I'm in costume. I realized the only reason I was considering the wigs was to put other people at ease, so many people suggested I wear wigs over scarves. I've discovered wearing scarves makes me look like a chemo patient and draws more attention. People stare. Even at church tonight. It really doesn't bother me, it gives me a chance to tell people how awesome God has been through the trial of cancer when they inquire. Initially, I was mostly concerned about the way my students would respond when they see me in a scarf - a major reason I was considering the wig. I didn't want them to feel uncomfortable or to worry, but then I realized it would only be uncomfortable for the first day. Once we're past that first day, they'll be fine. The scarves are so much more comfortable, and those who know me know I've always been a scarf person anyway. I have plenty to choose from in my closet and I found some gorgeous scarves online (Shari Rose brand if you're looking for beautiful head scarves - I may continue to wear them on bad hair days when my hair grows back!) So, the evening of Thanksgiving, my son’s fiance spent a couple of hours learning and then teaching me how to tie scarves until I was satisfied with the look. How sweet was that?! I don't know what I did to deserve such a loving family that continues to grow, but I am just so incredibly blessed. 💗
Yesterday, I received my 8th chemo treatment - that means I only have 4 more Taxol treatments!! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel 😊. After the Taxol is over, I can begin my radiation treatments, and will continue the Herceptin infusions for a year, but my immune system will no longer be compromised so I can resume some of my more normal activities. Unfortunately, my white blood cells took a nose dive this week, and my red blood cells keep me in that anemic range, but my treatments have continued without interruption, so that's a blessing. I only have 4 more weeks to go, so I continue to try to do those things to keep me as strong and healthy as I can. I eat all those things that strengthen my immune system and I exercise for an hour every day (most of that time running now!). I'm so thankful that I've made it this far without any interruption to my treatment. I do miss hugs from friends during this phase, but I'm so thankful for a protective husband who will run extra errands for me so I don't have to spend much time in public places or will sleep in the guest room when he thinks he's coming down with something, and I'm thankful for friends who are considerate enough to keep their germs away from me so that my immune system stays as strong as possible. Everyone is working to keep me healthy, and for that I am especially thankful - I have only gotten sick once so far throughout this treatment! I am just so incredibly blessed. 💗
I'm still experiencing the whole gamut of strange side effects to the chemo that I've mentioned before, but the majority are tolerable or manageable, so I remain thankful. This past week was the first week neuropathy was added to the list. Apparently, Taxol can cause nerve damage, usually in your hands and feet, and that damage can be permanent so the doctors watch it closely. I did notice the tingling in my fingers this week for the first time, for most of Sunday, but then it subsided and only showed up one other day. From what I understand, the nerve damage can be significant in some patients. Thus far, I have not had any symptoms, and those that showed up this week were minimal, so I remain hopeful that the symptoms will remain at bay for the remaining 4 weeks. I've also been sent to my GP doctor for some other chronic symptoms that don't seem to be responding to treatment. I called and left a message at her office today, expecting a return call on Monday morning when they’re in the office. It was not an emergency. She called me back today - on a Saturday afternoon, and made arrangements to see me on Monday morning before anyone else is in the office as a way to protect my immune system. I am just so incredibly blessed. 💗
Finally, I am so thankful for the number of donors who have stepped up to help make my desire to replace the uncomfortable caregiver chairs in the chemo treatment center a reality. You are all amazing! We're almost halfway to our goal!! Thank you to especially to those who donated for my birthday this past week - there is no greater gift you could give me than to help support those who support me 😊. I have been a caregiver several times in my life, but until you are someone who needs a caregiver, it's difficult to understand the value of this person. I am so incredibly blessed to have a caregiver who continues to sacrifice for and serve me, and I sit in a room full of these amazing people every week.💗 If you're interested in helping make this a reality, please consider donating - every little bit helps! And then please share the link to spread the word. Thank you!!