Dan is getting me some liquid Band Aid goop for the cuts on my toes. I didn’t even know I had cuts on my toes. Chemo is eating up everything. But I was able to put some makeup on this morning, so today isn’t a total loss.
My friend and fellow Paper Rats star, Kristen Tsetsi, conducted an interview with me about my diagnosis and treatment and whatnot. Check it out, peeps!
Today I’m pissy as hell. I’ve been nauseous and vomiting all week, subsisting on Ensure shakes and iced water. My muscles and joints hurt really badly, I’ve had the chills (but no fever, yay), my head hurts, I’ve had the runs for so long I don’t think I can remember how to take a solid poo. For the past nine days I’ve been asleep more than I’ve been awake. And when I am awake I’m either miserable or stoned, which probably sounds better than being miserable, but what would be fucking awesome is if I could feel good and not stoned at the same time so I could actually carry on a conversation with my husband or kids that I remember. All the hobbies I thought I’d take up to pass the time require either a functioning brain or fingertips that aren’t sore. So I’m pissy.
I try to stay positive. Mostly it’s easy. Today I can’t, but I think that’s okay. I think I need just a few moments to bitch and get this off my chest. Then I’m gonna put my phone down (because it actually feels too heavy to hold much longer and I’m forgetting how to spell) and sleep again. And I know that I’ll probably still feel like shit when I wake up. Maybe I’ll feel like shit all weekend. But I’m also pretty sure that, if the previous three rounds of chemo are anything to go by, I’ll feel a little better by Monday. And that the next two rounds of chemo will probably make me feel progressively worse and I’ll be miserable and pissy all over again.
But I also know that these motherfucking tumors are shrinking. In my head I imagine a literal slaughter going on. I keep going back to my initial William Tecumseh Sherman metaphor back in (I think) February. Because that dude fucked everything up in Georgia, but he fucking won. And we’re gonna win, too.
Blood work came back and we’re good to start round 4! They’re reducing the Docetacil (chemo drug) a smidge to help try to reduce some of the worst of the side effects (like mouth and throat sores/infection and my newest symptom, sore fingers and weird ass fingernail shiz. My fingernails could actual pop off!!! GAH!!!!) During treatment today I’ll have to ice my fingers and toes, so this will be my last update until later on today. I know you’ll all manage fine on your own until then.
My oncologist is super thrilled with the results of the CT scan. We’re still not at the prognosis point, which is fine. I’d rather wait a little longer and get accurate information. I’m a nerd like that. But I’m feeling so optimistic right now. I really am. I just REALLY hope my fingernails don’t pop off. Much love and gratitude to you all!!!
CT scan today to see how the tumors in my liver are responding to treatment. Last time I chose Hawaiian Punch flavored contrast. Today I opted for just plain because I have no idea what my chemo mouth will make the flavored contrast taste like. Right now nearly everything tastes hideous and I don’t want to ruin Hawaiian Punch for my post-chemo life. The past week has been really difficult, to be honest. All of my symptoms seem to have intensified, especially nausea and exhaustion. I haven’t been able to concentrate well enough to read a physical book in weeks and now I’m having a hard time focusing well enough to follow the gist of unfamiliar plots in new audiobooks. Instead I’ve been relistening to old favorites. Next up will be Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. If you haven’t read those yet, you really should.
And today’s test will reveal for certain if all of this is worth it; if the meds are doing the job. Technically I’m supposed to find out the results on Tuesday, when I have an appointment with my oncologist, but they always seem to post test results to MyChart well before then, so I’ll probably know in a day or so. I’ll use my Google skills to translate the medical gobbledygook to English, then pretend to be surprised on Tuesday when my doctor tells me. I’m getting pretty good at that, actually. Maybe I’ll try out for a play next year, when this is all over.
I haven’t posted an update for awhile because I’ve been feeling generally kinda shitty this week. I’ve been exhausted, nauseous (and therefore high more often than not), and I’ve got “chemo rash” on my face which is itchy as fuck and makes me look as bad as I feel. At this point in my last round of treatment I was starting to feel human again. This time not so much.
But I continue to try to focus on the good things. I feel so, so supported by all of you and I don’t take that for granted.
Today is round 2 of chemo and immunotherapy. Right now I’m feeling pretty good. I had a relatively symptom/side effect free weekend and I’m feeling prepared for the shit that’s coming my way over the next couple of weeks. Basically, I’m feeling optimistic again.
But here’s the full deal. When we originally got the diagnosis back in January, the hope was that the cancer was contained to its point of origin, the breast. The tests I had in early February determined that this was not the case. The cancer had already spread to my liver. For those of you who may not know, this is what is known as stage 4. It’s a scary diagnosis to hear, especially the first time a doctor looks you in the eyes and says that number and you realize she’s talking to and about you.
So what does this mean? For the most part, my treatment plan is the same. After a few more treatments they’ll do some more scans to determine how many of these fucking cancer cells we’re killing and we’ll go from there. But again, after talking to my care team and doing lots of research, I remain optimistic that this is going to make the rest of my life’s road bumpy, not that it will be the end of my road. And if there’s one thing Mainers know how it handle it’s a bumpy road.
In the meantime, I want to thank everyone again, on behalf of my entire family, for your support. It means so much to have so many amazing peeps on our side.
This morning I woke up feeling like Danaerys. By noon it was more like Cercei after her walk of shame.
This week was supposed to be a test on whether I’d be able to continue working through treatment. I really love my job. I’m really good at it. I’m a trainer. Every day I get to use stories, parables, and metaphors to break down and explain super complex healthcare industry knowledge for my coworkers. I had a great year, professionally speaking, in 2020 and was really pumped to keep that momentum going. Friday I have a meeting scheduled with one of our company’s Senior Vice Presidents to talk about one of our company’s 2021 initiatives. He didn’t ask for my input, but I saw an opportunity to put myself and my information before him (in a moment of Danaerys like passion and Cercei like hubris) and he accepted my request. Just like that. It’s just that kind of company. Today it became apparent that working during treatment probably won’t be sustainable. I’ve got an appointment this afternoon and perhaps one of their Maesters have some magical potions there to help with my symptoms. But probably not. So I may not be back to work for awhile. I may have to miss that presentation on revenue cycle tomorrow and my big presentation with the SVP on Friday. I couldn’t be more bummed out about that.
But ultimately I’m okay with it. I can only fight so many dragons at a time. I know that focusing on my treatment is the important thing, the only thing. And I know that I’ll be back at work as soon as I’m able and that I’m gonna kick some ass there once again.
Today we bid a proactive adieu to my hair and I had the BEST support team in the universe. Thanks so much to my bestie, Dawn Marie, for organizing our [COVID SAFE] gathering and to our freaking amazing barber, Emily, who donated two gorgeous braids to Locks Of Love. My daughter in law, Julia, son Zachary, and hubby Daniel were also willing head shavers. I feel so much love and support right now and SO ready to kick cancer’s fucking ass!
I don’t make much on book royalties at this juncture, but from here in out I’m going to donate every penny of my Waiting For Spring royalties to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
I’ll post proof of donations here once those royalties start coming (my guess is spring, which is appropriate). I’ve got a couple of copies on hand I can sign for raffles or auctions. If you’ve got any fundraisers coming up, just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.