Taxol, oh how I miss you!

…not!

No visit to the hospital this week! No blood test, no infusion! My Taxol days are OVER, hopefully forever!

The last chemo day!

The last chemo day!

You’d think I’d feel jubilant, but really we both just feel…relieved. A big sigh of it, in fact. The side effects will continue for an undetermined length of time – irritatingly watery eyes, bloody nose every day, tingly, heavy, yet numb feet. The joys of Taxol, in fact!

I had to sub out a trip to the hospital for a trip to the dentist this week. I read too late that you should have any and all dental treatment before chemo, so despite several bouts with an infected tooth, I had to wait until post chemo to go. Diagnosis? An incomplete root canal, meaning that one root out of three was left untreated all those years ago, hence the chronic infections. I could either have another root canal (I don’t think so!), or have an extraction followed by an implant in 8 weeks time, post radiation and once the infection and gum have healed.

Oh joy of life, how the blows continue!!

On the plus side, however, I’m done with chemo. And after all the cancer treatment, I’m a lot less petrified of the dentist than I used to be!

Always a positive side to everything, I guess!

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Taxol 6 is a comin’ up

Tomorrow it’s chemo day (again!). I know I’ve mentioned that we are now old pros at this – we have the schedule down to a fine art!

Lunching before Taxol treatment. Note no eyebrows or eyelashes!

Lunching before Taxol treatment. Note no eyebrows or eyelashes!

It’s a big day tomorrow (assuming my bloods are good, and I can actually have the infusion). As of the end of treatment, I will be 50% through my Taxol treatments!

That may not seem like much, but to cancer folk, these little milestones are big things. I don’t like think I have ‘so many treatments left’ or ‘so many years left to worry’. It is so much better to think of what has been accomplished, not what is left to do.

I told that very same thing to a friend of mine who just had breast surgery. She has one very big step over with now. Rejoice in that, and recover from it; only then can you move on to the next thing.

Infusion day (again)

Still roaring through the Taxol infusions, and so far, not so bad! Despite going every week, we find the quick progression rather nice (Nice? Did I really say that?)

We have the process down now. Take the irritatingly winding road to Malaga, then roar down the motorway to the hospital, get bloods taken around 2. If I’m lucky, the adorable Salvador will be there to take the blood from my port-a-cath. Although the nurses there are all fine, he’s the best. He’s personable and competent, which is definitely what you want! We also talk campo stuff with him, like how the olive harvest is looking, the price of avocados, and so on. Makes a nice change from talking cancer and side effects!

taxol 4

Lunching at the Italian

My blood seems to be reluctant to leave my body, so it’s always a bit of a performance to draw blood from my port. I think one nurse was trying to suck it out by sheer force – ouch! I quickly explained the “Salvador technique” to her – put several tubes of water through first, to flush things out. Then, we lay the chair down slightly, and I put my arm over my head and look to the side (slightly re-positions the internals of the port, so says Salvador). The blood usually then comes out quite freely!

After bloods, we go to lunch, quite often a lovely little Italian near the sea. We’re lucky so far, in that the tourist season hasn’t started yet, so parking is a breeze, and we get quick service.

Back to the hospital by 4, sign in, then wait for the doctor to arrive at 4:30. We try to get there a bit early, so we are first in the queue to see the doctor. Once we go into his office, we talk blood results (slightly anaemic this week, a known side effect), discuss any issues or questions I might have, then I go for the infusion.

Out by 7ish, we hope, and home before 8:30. A long day!

Taxol third cycle – done and dusted!

This is a positive day! 🙂

When you are diagnosed with cancer – or any other life-threatening condition – you soon learn you have good and bad days. In fact, often within the course of a day, you can reduce that down to good and bad hours! Your mood can change frighteningly fast, for no particular reason, it seems.

Having lunch pre chemo!

Having lunch pre chemo!

I had my third cycle of Taxol on Tuesday. I was dreading the neuropathy and the joint pain, but so far, although it’s come every time, it hasn’t become worse as the cycles continue. It also has only lasted one day each time, which is manageable. I may just be lucky so far, and it may turn out to be horrendous, but for now, I’m having positive thoughts!

Unlike the ‘red devil’ of my last drug combo, this one seems much better. Not too much brain fog, better moods, no nausea, and so far, no bad blood counts. So that makes me happy, too. It also makes life so much easier for those around me!

I try not to think that I have 9 cycles left. I prefer to look at the accomplishment thus far. I am a quarter of the way through my Taxol treatments!

Wow!

Algunas hormigas

“Some ants”!

Day 2 after my second Taxol cycle, and I had some pins and needles/tingling in my fingers and feet. It’s an odd feeling – as you walk, you can’t feel your feet very well! There was no pain, just that annoying tingling feeling. Very irritating.

I also had some aching joints (right knee, my “good one”, and index finger – odd!), which was easily taken away by ibuprofen.

I put on an extra layer when the tingling started, as they say that staying warm helps. It seemed to! I took some small walks to get my feet working again, which also helped.

My initial panic when I felt the tingling

(oh no, neuropathy already!!)

dissipated when the tingling subsided later in the afternoon. Today is good, and I’m feeling good, so positivity returns!

PS – I made a special magic Lujos cream to use on my hands and feet, too – a blend of St John’s Wort, Arnica infused oil, and other things to stimulate and warm. If anyone wants the recipe, let me know, I’ll happily pass it along!

Here comes Taxol!

Regular readers will know that I have recently completed 3 months of my first drug combo – doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). Women often refer to Adriamycin as the ‘red devil’, due to the severity of its side effects, and the fact that it turns your pee red! 🙂 Like most chemotherapy drugs, it is ‘life saving yet toxic’, and oh man, do you realise this as you go along.

Having lunch before first Taxol cycle

Having lunch before first Taxol cycle

I was pretty lucky, by all reports. My side effects were fairly mild compared to some, though the foggy brain, nausea and killer headaches did get me down at times. Yet I made it through the other side, and last Tuesday found me clamouring for the next drug! (OK, not literally, but I was as ready as I could be)

Almost pretty, isn't it?

Almost pretty, isn’t it?

The drug for the next 12 weeks is Taxol, extracted from the bark of the yew tree – isn’t it pretty? You might be forgiven for thinking they have finally found a natural product to use in the fight, but noooooo, no such luck! Taxol comes with its own range of side effects, which were explained to me as:

  • joint and bone pain (me: what’s new about that?)
  • finger and toe nails falling off (me: no medipedi? what’s new about that?)
  • nerve damage resulting in tingling in feet and hands (called neuropathy, or as my oncologist charmingly refers to it – ‘hormigas’, or ants, which is about how it feels)

For me, the first round has gone well. Sure, there have been a few minor side effects, but nothing I can’t handle. You never know how it will hit you as you go through treatment, but as we (now) say around here

At least that’s one that went ok!