Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lots of Chemo Later...How is it Going????

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2007 12:29 AM

I'm trying to fit in enough pictures to cover what has happened since I stopped treatment the first time. Here are some things that happened in the past year and a half.

I went back to work when my hair was this shor. It actually didn't look too bad, but I got a lot of "what did you do to your hair???" questions. Akward....
Chip and I are birthday buddies.
I had a Christmas with the family without hospital masks. Marina, Stacie (pregnant by the way), Taylor, me and Connor. All my mom's kids.
I started working out a lot with Clint and we had a push up contest in our bathing suits after a long boat party on Lake Travis. He only did one more push up than me.
My sister had her baby and we now have a new nephew, Drew.
This is Kevin and I when we went out to Califonia to see the specialist before I decided what chemo to do. It wasn't all business.

rugs and Zomeda is for my bones. I get them all through IV when I go for my weekly infusion. The side effects I am having are not as bad as the last time I had chemotherapy. My main complaint is that I am very tired most of the time. Some days it is really hard getting up in the morning, and every Friday I just want to come home from work and crash. Avastin’s main side effect is bloody noses. I get them a lot. I feel like I need to hide from everyone when I blow my nose, because it could be scary. Very bloody. Taxol’s main side effect is numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. I get this when I go running or ride my bike. It’s kind of annoying because it bugs me enough to stop and then I don’t get exercise. I have not had any nausea on these drugs.

Everyone asks me how long I am on chemotherapy. It’s understandable because last time there was a definitive end to my treatment. That’s not necessarily the case when you are metastatic (stage IV). Once it has spread through your body, they say it is incurable and you will be in treatment for the rest of your life. My oncologist and I talk about getting the tumors under control (or hopefully gone) with chemotherapy and then controlling them for a long time on hormone therapy or something. I learned a new term in the cancer lingo. NED (No Evidence of Disease). When I learned this new acronym I told Kevin, I want to be referred to as NED some day.

So far I have had 13 chemotherapy infusions (or at least I think). It’s getting harder to keep track. They started giving me steroids and Benadryl as the pre-medications for the Taxol. You can have deadly allergic reactions to the Taxol and it can happen very fast. They take hours to give you the Taxol on a slow drip so if you do have a reaction, you can catch it before there is too much of it in you. The Benadryl you get is through IV. It’s like taking 2 pills, but it hits you immediately because it goes right into your bloodstream. One time I asked them to not give me Benadryl so I could get more work done while getting chemo. I had my first and hopefully only reaction to Taxol. My body felt VERY weird, it got really hot and my chest felt like it was caving in. We caught it right away and then they gave me a huge dose of Benadryl. Never again will I get Taxol without Benadryl. Then, I started trying to get less of the steroids. The steroids suck because I cannot sleep for 3 days and they make me gain weight and they make my skin break out. Kevin also says they make me absolutely crazy, but I don’t know what he’s talking about ; ) My doc allowed me to reduce the steroids until I finally got completely off of them, but I had to double up the Benadryl. Now I get IV Benadryl that is equivalent to taking 4 pills. I pass out almost immediately when they give me this.

So how is all of this chemo going??? Good so far. There is a blood test that is a breast cancer tumor marker. It’s called the CA 2729. The normal range is 5 – 35. If you are above 35, then the test is pointing to something going on in your blood that would cause the doctor to think you might have breast cancer. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer the second time, my CA 2729 was 2,679. Off the charts and then some. After my first 3 treatments it went down to 1,451. Then 992, then 795, then 408, then 336, then 316 (this is where my doctor and I got a little nervous thinking it wasn’t working as good, or my tumors became resistant to the chemo. The tests weren’t going down as much as they were before).

I also had CT scans to measure the two tumors on my liver. When I was diagnosed they were 3.8 x 4.5 and 2.3 x 2.8. The second scan they came back 2 x 2.6 and 1.8 x 1.7. The third scan they were 2 x 2.1 and 1.3 x 1.4. This was at the same time the blood test didn’t go down by as much so it was really starting to look like the cancer was not being affected by the chemo as much, but it was too early to draw that conclusion. Just last week though, I had one more blood test and a PET scan. A PET scan is where they inject radioactive glucose into your blood and they scan you to see where the glucose is absorbed. Cancer cells absorb glucose, so this test will show you where the active cancer cells are by scannning where the glucose is absorbed.

I got good results on both tests. The CA 2729 went down to 286 (larger percentage drop tan last time). The PET scan showed that the liver tumors did not absorb glucose. So this means there are still masses there, but they are not active cancer cells. Chances are they are scar tissue or something. (Hopefully) Of the six sites on my hip bones that had tumors, there were only two that absorbed glucose. One on my right hip (by the ball and joint) and one on my left sacrum. So, it looks like the chemo is working, and we’re keeping me on it. I’ll keep having the blood tests and I’ll have another PET and MRI in about two months. I have a lot more to write about, but I’ll save if for later this week. Don’t want to overload you. Stay tuned. There will be a lot more.

- Shannon-

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