Here I sit, once again ready to have toxic poison pumped into my body. Ah! The joys of Chemo Day! Today, my worthy partner is my pal Cindy. We had a wonderful lunch at a local ‘Burg sports bar, C.J. Chumps, where the patio is shaded and the food is fabulous! We’ve been discussing hitting the local Dairy Queen on the way home for mini-sized Blizzards. Ummmm! Ice Cream!
Actually, my chemo treatments are also under discussion. You may remember that last week my chemo was cancelled because the edema in my legs had caused my feet to swell to the size of small hams. Coupled with the very bright red rash covering my legs, my gams were a sight right out of American Horror Story which properly freaked out anyone who saw them including my favorite Chemo Nurse Jenna who notified my oncologist who cancelled my chemo for the day. (And isn’t that a lovely run-on sentence.)
Last Tuesday I left the Chemo Cafe with two new prescriptions. I now have a prescription for lasix to help with my water retention. I also have a prescription fora corticosteroid (Dexamethasone) — which should help with both the water retention and the red rash. I’ve also got a steroid cream (Clobetasol) for the red rash. And lastly, I’ve got better knowledge on what to expect over the next few days and how to mitigate the issues.
I’ve spent the past week taking my new meds, wearing my compression stockings from the time I get out of bed until the time I crawl back into bed, smearing the steroid cream on the red rash when I’m not wearing the compression stockings, taking every opportunity to recline with my feet over my head (OK, I really mean higher than my heart), and cutting back a little on my water intake (yes, I may have been drinking too much water — but only because some of the instructions I’ve received encouraged me to try and drink more than 64-ounces daily). The result? I’ve done a lot (seriously, A LOT) of peeing, which has made for a 6-day weight loss of 12 pounds.
I appear to be at a cross-roads of sorts. I’m receiving treatment today (technically, the second of three treatments for Cycle 4). Then on Monday, my Oncologist will take a look at how bad my side-effect symptoms are (water retention, bright red rash, hemoglobin count, shortness of breath), and we’ll decide whether I can continue on Gemzar (7 treatments / 2 cycles left), move to a pill form of a different chemo, or quit chemo all together.
I have mixed emotions. I’m really ready — I mean REALLY READY — for the whole chemo battle to be finished. Each Chemo Day, I am more and more resistant to the idea of Gemma as my alley in this fight. She’s a wicked bitch who doesn’t care which cells she kills. And she’s really messing up my life. Sucking down this toxic cocktail has become one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do. But the hope of Gemma giving me a few extra years of life is like a designer drug of bliss — sweet and addicting. I want the best possible chance to beat this stupid monster that’s tried to take over my life. I want to absolutely crush this stupid cancer and eject it from my body.
This morning, I had a “foot moment.” There is approximately an hour in the morning — from around 8:30 to 9:30 — when the trees around our yard block the sun from shining full on our patio. It’s one of my favorite times of the day. I am enchanted with the way the light is shady and yet dappled with splashy spots of bright sunny pools of light. And I can sit on the patio, enjoy the birds’ songs, and not worry about putting on sun screen.
Today, my enchantment was multiplied ten-fold when I noticed that the veins in my feet were actually standing out, ribboned above the level of my skin. I haven’t seen the veins in my feet standing at attention like this for probably 10 weeks, because of the swelling. The meds, the stockings, the feet elevation, the cream, and limiting myself to 64-ounces of water instead of trying to do 90 — this system seems to work.
I can’t help but feel that I have a better chance at dealing with my side effects this week because I have better tools and more knowledge. I don’t want ham feet. Watching my hair get thinner was nothing compared to seeing my feet swell up to the point that I couldn’t get my shoes on. This morning, seeing my feet closer to their normal size and shape was like a benediction. Do I continue the battle with my chemo War General, Gemma? Or do we adjust to a new plan? I’ll find out on Monday…