Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Latest Update

Yesterday marked my 7th of 8 Chemo treatments...I was so excited to go in, as it just means that I am getting sooooo close the end of them! It was made doubly fun because Aaron accompanied me! He was so kind to fill in for my mother who had to take Alan to the knee surgeon for a follow-up. I am sure though, that there are many folks who look forward to the end of their sessions much more than I, as really, the treatments, while not fun, have been fairly easy to tolerate. I know that the amazing medical care, drugs, and precautions nurses and doctors take all have an impact on how well they have proceeded. However, I am FULLY convinced that the prime reason for my well-being throughout has been the love, prayers, faith, well wishes and good thoughts sent my way throughout the ordeal. I live as a daily miracle, for which I am ever grateful.

There are a few other interesting updates. I have officially enlisted in study S0307, "Phase III Trial of Bisphosphonates as Adjuvant Therapy for Primary Breast Cancer" That's a mouth full :) Basically, if you have seen the comercials on TV with Sally Fields for Boniva, a drug that is helpful in combating Osteoperosis, it is the same class of drug. The idea is that because breast cancer, if it develops matastesis, will often go to the bone, let's try to strengthen the bones first as a shield to preventing that metastesis. Trials have been going on in Europe for a while, and have shown really positive results. For anyone interested, here is a link to an article from the NYT on it.

Some of you may remember that I had attempted an MRI on my hand/arm to determine the cause of a pesky, persistent numbing of my left little finger and half of the ring finger. Having metal in my chest prevented that exam, so instead my doctor sent me off to a neurologist to get a nerve test. That showed that my ulnar nerve is pinched around the funny bone, but it has not caused any permanent nerve least so far. He likened it to carpal tunnel syndrom, and just told me to try to keep my arm straight and keep on the look out for atrophy in my hands...ok. I am hoping that as I get back into yoga and other exercise, it will somehow unhitch and all will be normal.

One last tidbit, I am now moving into phase III--radiation, and looking ahead at reconstruction surgery. My assumption was that I would be able to move right into surgery immediately following the completion of radiation...but it is not to be. I have to wait 3 months at least from the end of radiation, as the skin continues to change and heal, and so it will be at least August before reconstruction can start. I am now thinking that perhaps I can then squeeze my foot/ankle surgery inbetween that 3 month time frame? I will chat with Dr. Buys to see if there would be anything preventing that, and if not, I will be contacting my ankle surgeon and hopefully get that scheduled. Of course, I have to work around work, so more on that to come. Perhaps the name of this blog should have been "All you ever wanted to know about Gretchen's medical problems and more". I promise this blog will have an end someday :)

As always, many many many thanks to you all for your lovely gifts, cards, services, prayers, faith, lunches and make my world brighter than you will ever know. What a joyful ride this has been because of you! gf

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A New Drug=New Experience

This week's treatment was the first of four Taxol treatments that I will be receiving. I was encouraged by the medical folks who said this would be an easier drug to tolerate than the A/C rounds...and in many ways it has been. But like my doctor said, it is a whole new ballgame, any sort of "routines" I was able to establish before would be null and void for this new drug.

And so this week has been filled with new experiences; the infusion itself wasn't too bad, though it took longer than the other (3.5 hours just for the drip). The day following treatment was great, but days 3 and 4? A bit more of a challenge. They had warned me that deep muscle and bone aches were a typical reaction. Dr. Buys asked if I had any pain meds at home, I said that I had some left over oxycodone, but I wouldn't be taking those, as they have their own slew of bad side effects. She kind of rolled her eyes with a look of "hmmmmm, we shall see" and said keep the ibuprofen and tylenol handy. I promised I would. In the early hours of Thursday morning, I woke up wondering how a big truck could have run me over in the middle of the night...the muscle pain was a little shocking. Not feeling well enough to get up and get food and take more meds, I spent a wakeful night.

In the morning, I got out of bed and got ready for work, figuring I could be in pain at work just as well as at home. My poor co-workers, when asking how I was got a grumpy "today's a crapy day" response...they were in for the same on Friday too, I am afraid to say. After popping the little drugs all day, I came home and succumbed to the oxy. It helped me get a good three hours of sleep. Friday was the same song, second verse, as was Friday night. Only this time, my sweet mother came to care for me. Thankfully, Saturday the pain eased up, and continued to get better as Sunday rolled along. At this point, I am hopeful that the worst of that particular reaction is over, and that I have another 8 good days ahead. This whole process is nothing if not an adventure.

I am sorry to have been silent to those of you who have kindly called and emailed...but know that I am grateful for your care and attention. As always, your support is what keeps me going. Thank you for continuing to create miracles in my life, you are wonderful. Much love to you all, gf