Fox and Broom

A mom's adventures in keeping healthy, keeping her sanity, and making stuff.

Archive for the tag “sickness”

When Treatments Fail

In the year and half since my metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, I have been on three treatments. As my cancer has invaded my skeleton, it is really hard to track it properly. We use nuclear bone scans, CT scans, and tumor markers aka cancer antigens or, for me, CA 27.29. Tumor markers are an imprecise way to keep track of spreading cancer. However, if they continue to go up, there is usually something going on, even if the scans are showing stability.

Tamoxifen and radiation were my first line of attack. My scans remained stable and my markers went down. For seven months. Then my markers suddenly shot up and continued going up. In April 2017, I started my second line of treatment, Ibrance w/ Letrozole. Once again, my scans were mostly stable and my markers dropped, but just a small amount. By February 2018, it was clear that this treatment wasn’t working well for me. We replaced the Letrozole with Faslodex injections. This combination did not work at all for me.

I am going to take an intermission here to explain nuclear bone scans. These scans are really fascinating. At least to me. About 6 hours before the actual scan, I am injected with a dose of radioactive tracer. I believe it is technetium 99 (Tc99). The techs always tell me that I am safe around people, but I do give off radiation. My husband has measured it in the past. After this injection, I need to drink a lot of water and pee as much as I can. This helps to get rid of the radiation that did not stick to my bones.
During the scan, I can see my skeleton appear on a screen as the scanner passes over me. Or I could if I was able to wear my glasses. People who come with me to the scan can watch my skeleton. The scanner itself reminds me of an iron and the surface I lay on looks a lot like and ironing board. The scan getsĀ really up close to my face to start with. I usually close my eyes, which usually leads to me falling asleep for most of the scan. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour. I get in a nice power nap.

Back to treatment failures.

My last bone scan was on March 23. It showed progression of cancer in my left leg and slight progression on my skull. My CT scan on March 26 showed cancer lesions are now on my liver. I had really high hopes for Ibrance. It, and other 4/6 inhibitors, have been almost like a miracle treatment for many people living with MBC. My disappointment is indescribable. I had expected to be on Ibrance for at least 3 years. I got in 12 cycles/12 months.

I am now preparing to start IV chemotherapy for the first time. The chemo combination I have agreed to go with is Adriamycin with Carboplatin. My sessions will be one day every three weeks for four sessions. I hope that makes sense. It looks like each session will take at least two and a half hours.
I will be losing my hair again, but I don’t mind. Actually, I will also lose my eyelashes and eyebrows. I did lose half of my lashes and brows on the left side from radiation on my outer left eye orbital. That was hard. I am not a vain person, but I hated seeing my lashes look so ragged. It was also painful getting lashes in my eye. I might start working on drawing eyebrows. I have failed miserably in the past when I have tried to do this.
I will also be getting Granix injections for about 5 days in a row after my sessions. My white blood cells will completely tank on me. Granix will help them to come back faster. These are shots in the belly, which I do kind of mind.

Before starting chemo, I will be getting an echocardiogram to make sure my heart can handle this. I will also be getting a brain MRI due to dizzy spells. I am not normally an anxious person, but this on top of the changes has got me on edge. I guess my anxiety coping mechanism is cleaning. My upstairs living room is almost spotless. As spotless as four kids and two dogs will allow it to be. My basement living room is almost as clean. My kitchen is still a mess, but my dishes are as caught up as they can be. Those who know me know how miraculous this is. I will be mopping my kitchen tomorrow and setting up an Easter themed table cloth on the table.

Emotionally, I am feeling furious right now. It’s kind of like having a furnace in the pit of my stomach. And I don’t want it to get low or go away. I was angry like this after my diagnosis and I thought it was the right thing to try to ease that anger. I have a right to my fury. There is nothing about this that is ok. Cancer fucking sucks. It sucks for me, for my family, and for my friends.

If you wish to help me as I get used to my new path, I am currently accepting all forms of good vibes, positive energy, prayer, and good thoughts. I will also accept silly things that make me laugh and distract me.

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This was not how I wanted to meet a goal.

I have had a struggle with my weight since I got pregnant with my firstborn. I just could not get below 164. In the eleven years since, my weight has fluctuated between 164 and 180. Well, except during my pregnancies. I just don’t count those periods of time.

I have tried to eat healthy and exercise. Turns out what I needed was a debilitating condition. After 11 years, I have met my goal weight. I lost a ton of weight during my last pregnancy due to illness and HELLP. Somewhere around May, I started to lose my appetite, have random fevers, moments of dizziness, nausea, and weakened and hurting muscles. I lost that last bit of weight and met my goal… but I feel so weak and I hate it. I wanted to get there and be strong. I have always been proud of my strength.

I have started to see a physical therapist and I will be seeing my general doc and my OB. I don’t think this has anything to do with Baby Max’s birth 7 months ago, but I figured I could talk to the doc and see what he has to say on the matter. In the meantime, I am doing my stretches and I have started to swim more. I don’t feel pain while I am in the pool, but getting out is awful.

Tummy Troubles

I am totally ready for my tummy to be back to normal. Thursday at about 4:30 am, I started yakking up uncontrollably. TMI. It sucked. I was also up at that time with baby and didn’t have time to put him down and run to the bathroom. So I held him while I hugged the porcelain god. Thankfully, the hubby woke up and took him from me. It was a miserable day. Water wouldn’t even stay down. I was starving and super thirsty by the time I could finally get a few sips to stay down.

It is now Saturday night and I still have very little appetite and the tummy is still twisting ominously. I made Chex mix in hopes that might spark something. It is one of my favorite snacks… But no. The smell totally turns me off right now.

And, before you ask, I am not pregnant. I’m actually pretty sure this is food poisoning. Yay!

Well, the idea was a good one…

So much for my list haha. Sam caught some sort of virus and was vomiting most of Thursday and part of Friday. He seems to be better today, but is still sleeping. At least he did not wake up in the middle of the night throwing up all over his crib. If he does well today, I will take the boys swimming tomorrow. Poor guy.

There are few things as sad as

a sick baby. I’ve been getting about 4 hours of sleep for the past couple of nights. Poor Sam has tested RSV positive and is absolutely miserable. He does seem better today than yesterday. I am just hoping this does not last the 2 weeks that I keep reading about. I think I will go nuts from lack of sleep. This has also put my exercise schedule on hold. I do plan on doing some yoga today, if he takes a nap after big brother goes to school. Sol is in afternoon kindergarten, so he will be going to school in about an hour and half.

I am very much afraid that this could lead to Sam getting pneumonia or bronchitis. All I can do for now is to pump myself full of vitamin C and make sure to keep nursing him as much as he will let me.

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