today is the first day i’m sitting halfway upright after my first AC infusion on thursday. our favorite male nurse is very busy…keeping me on a schedule of eating something small (including baby food – yes, we’ve reached a new low) and taking 3 different meds on a schedule to incrementally ward off the nausea that refuses to fully leave. focusing on something else like writing helps for awhile and then it’s too overwhelming. so i lay down quietly with whiz by my side, when he isn’t gnawing on the christmas tree, and listen to guided meditation. next up is figuring out how to properly use my weed stash. and walk for 10 minute stretches (so maddening after i did a long yoga class this week).
apparently nausea is more acute after AC in young, healthy women. no f*cking fair! my NP thought the fancy anti-nausea meds in my IV like emend and aloxi would do the trick, and sunday would be the day of nausea reckoning after they wore off. but, it came about 30 minutes after we walked in the door on thursday. i couldn’t even get up off the couch except to pretend vomit in the sink. strong smells are too much and bland food is all that really works right now. i can’t even think about drinking gatorade again without gagging (see attached infusion pic of the adriamycin, which they have to push manually). this is the stuff chemo nightmares are made of.
when we went in for my booster shot yesterday, i got a big bag of fluids to hydrate me and help curb it all. the nurse told me that AC is the toughest drug combo they give and reminded me that not too long ago, patients were hospitalized to even receive it. how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.
i’m not sharing this with you to get a “woe is you” but to let you in on the reality of the ups and downs.
we were temporarily bouyed by the great MRI results i received this week. my tumor is completely shrunk, and the results read, “near complete resolution.” like, for real. (i know, i should have led the post with this but it’s almost a forgotten memory right now). even my surgeon emailed me acknowledging my good response to treatment, and my NP said she was “over the moon and i made her week.” so, the bumps and bruises of taxol were worth it, of course now that they are a distant memory (even my tingles are mostly gone!). the AC is the exclamation point on any cancer cells hiding out and trying to gain footing for the future. this is what we have been aiming for all along, but i just wish i felt better to celebrate it. must keep eyes on prize.
one little snippet i’ll leave you with is about some additional perspective i gained this week. i’m part of the Bay Area Young Survivors (BAYS) support group, an amazing group of women from all walks of life and profound resource for me every step of the way. in between my chemo cycles when i had more energy, i signed up to help with meal support for another BAYS member. she’s my age and living with stage iv breast cancer. it was discovered too late, unfortunately the result of a doctor not taking a young woman’s concerns seriously enough. she just went into hospice. (for another blog post is how distressing it is that there have been only minor improvements in survivorship of metastatic breast cancer).
what i thought was going to be a quick food drop off or a tough experience turned into a warm, lovely visit with her and her mom. she shared chemo tips with me and gave me some home-baked muffins. she continues to give me perspective as i sit here slouched on the couch. yes, nausea can be debilitating but it’s relatively short-lived. with stage II cancer, i’m hopefully just facing a temporary bump in the road. she’s bravely facing her life ending too soon.
i share this, because all the support you’ve been able to give me in many forms–meals, letters, texts, visits, messages, prayers, meditations–has allowed me to support someone else. it’s a big beautiful circle. and when i’m fully well, i just wanted to let you know that i’ll keep paying it forward.
there’s really nothing else i can leave you with on today’s post, other than to share this image of i have of my new beautiful friend, sitting and smiling at her kitchen table, her hair mostly grown back after rounds of chemo, listening to christmas music and talking about whether we’ll feel up to going to the BAYS holiday party tonight. because she’ll be there, so will i.