Katie & Briscoe

Katie & Briscoe

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pluses and Minuses....

As is generally the case with everything in life, chemo treatment comes with it's share of benefits and problems. Mark has struggled with those problems from day one. Not that I can blame him. Just doing the research about the chemo meds themselves is enough to make a person wonder if the doctors really are here to help. Honestly, what kind of sane person things it's a GOOD idea to pump themselves full of something made from MUSTARD GAS? As one of the other ladies on the Cancer Suvivors Network called it, "Chemical Warfare." Being waged on ourselves..... I could have sworn there was supposed to be some kind of international ban on that sort of thing. Sadly the lady who described the treatment so accurately has recently lost her battle with the disease. She'd celebrated her 1 year anniversary of beating the breast cancer when it was discovered that it had returned in her liver. I cannot say that I knew her, or that I ever even had the opportunity to read much of what she posted on the CSN website, but judging from the MANY responses to the news of her passing, she was a much loved woman who touched countless lives with her wit and spunk.

So, here I am on a lovely Saturday morning, looking at the glorious sunshine and the infinite beauty of the world our Lord has made and I'm so tired and sore I can barely more. Back to the pluses and minuses, I guess. The day after I get my chemo I return to the treatment center to receive a Neulasta shot. This medicine keeps my white blood cell counts from tanking, which in turn helps me fight off any possible infection or sickness I might become exposed to. It's a wonderful thing, no doubt. Without it, my chemo would likely take much longer to complete just because it takes 3 weeks for the body to try to rebuild those cells naturally. That alone would draw out the treatment considerably longer since they'd have to wait for those counts to rise before carpet bombing the cells again. Not to mention the significantly higher risk of picking up some random bug that would make me sick and thus delay any treatment until the illness was beaten. So Neulasta is a wonderful thing as a whole. The drawback to it is that it causes "flu like" symptoms. This means aching all over, muscles, joints, everything. My first time getting it, the aching was pretty much confined to my neck and shoulders, which was bad enough. This time around, it's all over.

Honestly, I don't want to come off as a whiner or a complainer. I really can't feel sorry for myself. It could be so, so much worse. My symptoms have been VERY manageable, and I am profoundly grateful to God for that. But anyone out there who might be facing this same battle should know that when they tell you to start taking pain meds for the aches BEFORE you actually start hurting, they aren't kidding! Again, though, for me simple things like Tylenol or Ibuprofen seem to keep the worst of the pain at bay. I've read of others who had to take far stronger meds. So here's one more thing to be grateful for.

Generally, I'm feeling pretty well. I saw my oncologist last Thursday and he seemed to be pleased with how I'm doing. Fatigue, hair loss, and some aches and pains are pretty doggone mild as symptoms go, I think. So I'm happy overall, despite my tendency to whine a little. :)

I went down to our local theater last night to watch a play in which a dear friend and her husband were acting. We are a small community with a small theater and all local casts and crew. I have to say that I am always impressed by how good the shows they put on are. Not to mention the director seems to favor comedies and these days, a good laugh is some of the best medicine out there. So Mark and I laughed and had fun last night, which is always a good thing. As I said, our local theater is small but wonderful. I love going down there. I've never been disappointed.

Anyway, I just wanted to post a quick update on the state of affairs. My stubbly head is still kind of odd to me, though I'm getting used to it. It is much cooler to not have hair, but now I have the issue of my head getting crazy hot beneath my hats. I told Mark last night during one point of the play that I thought he could cook an egg on top of my head. Gotta love those hot flashes! I've threatened to just go "topless" altogether. (First time I saw the CSN ladies calling it that, I thought, "what on earth?" Then I realized they meant skipping head covers of all kinds. LOL) If the hot flashes don't tone down a bit, I might just be sporting the bald look for good. I'm hoping the coming cooler weather will help some. At least it might make it less uncomfortable. Fact is, my head was actually cold last night for a while since the temps dropped down into the lower 50's here. Just one more endearing side effect of the chemo... a wildly out of control internal thermostat.

So, I'm doing well, if a bit tired and sore. Overall, I guess the pluses must outweigh the minuses. Logically, it seems insane to poison yourself in an effort to take out a few random cells that may or may not be floating around inside your body somewhere. But, I count my blessings that the chemo has come so far from where it originally began. Maybe, with God's grace, they'll come up with a better way someday. Maybe God will allow us to overcome this disease altogether. I don't know. I just know I'm grateful that I have a family and friends who care for me, that I have a husband who loves me no matter what, that God saw fit to provide my husband with a job that included awesome health insurance literally days before I would so desperately need it, and that I have a Father who loves me enough to care for me and to provide every need I might have. Life is good. A few extra naps and a couple aches and pains are nothing to worry about.

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