Sooooooo…last week I had my first round of Taxol. (I previously completed four treatments of AC, and have now moved on to 12 weekly doses of Taxol.) Y’all…I cannot fully describe how much better this treatment went! It went so well! Additionally, we got an update on my tumor and lymph nodes. More to come on that below. I had my second Taxol treatment this morning, and I’m still feeling really good!
At infusion, I still get IV nausea and steroid meds for 30 minutes. Then I get Taxol for one hour. That’s it…I’m out of there after that. It goes so quickly. However, because I got so nauseated during treatment with my last two AC treatments, they also give me a shot of Ativan while I’m in the chair. That makes me stumble out of the clinic like a drunk walks out of a bar. I’m a little off balance, and according to my laughing husband, I slur my words a bit. Ha ha!
I had no nausea after Taxol last week. I woke up on Saturday, and I felt like Wonder Woman! I felt better than I had felt in a long time. So, I rested a bit then went to a friend’s art show with my aunt. I woke up on Sunday, still feeling like a champ. Wow…could this really be happening?? Sunday night I started getting really tired, really quick…and then it hit me. Aha! The steroids had created an amazing energy burst for two days, and I realized I was coming down off of them that night. Other than being tired, though, Sunday night I still felt really good. Monday I woke up a little sore, like sore after a workout in the gym, and started having esophagus spasms again. But the doctor had told me to expect that as I came off of the Roids. 🙂 By Tuesday, all of the tiredness and GERD stuff was gone, and I felt good.
So, to wrap that up…I had chemo on Friday, felt great all weekend, had a little bit of a rough patch on Monday, and then it was all over! One day of side effects…none of which included nausea or a headache. I’ll take it! I’m praying that it stays this way for the remainder of the treatments.
On a separate note…people often see me and tell me “You look great!” And my response is usually, “Well, I feel great, so there we go!”. I sometimes forgetting that I’m going through this at all…until I look in a mirror. Two things happened this year…I began treatment for breast cancer (which of course eliminated most of my hair, and is drying out my skin so fast) and I turned 40 (which does not help with the skin situation). I got a great new moisturizer that is really helping…thank you, baby Jesus. But to be real with you all, when you see my out and about, you usually see me baring the products made by the wonderful people at Smashbox, Urban Decay, and Tarte, etc…they help me get from the before to the after. (Tarte Shape Tape can do wonders for dark circles under the eyes!…you’re welcome!) I’m not embarrassed to go out or be seen in the “before” below…I’m not that vain, and I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. But if you know me, unless I’m going to the gym or lake, I typically just want to get dressed before I go out…it makes me feel put together and I’m ready to face any challenge that will come at me that day. For real…I had on full make up and hair the day I delivered Sara. And just to be clear…the make up and wig don’t make me “feel better about myself”…getting dressed every day is just part of who I’ve always been. So, doing my normal activities is what makes me feel better.
Back to business…With Taxol, and other drugs in the taxane family, neuropathy is one of the main potential side effects. Even worse is that it could be permanent. A total buzz kill. If you’ve never experienced it, it’s similar to when your limbs fall asleep…and that tingly feeling you get when they start to “wake up” is what neuropathy feels like. (I have no idea if I’m spelling that correctly, so don’t judge me. LOL) To try to prevent this, I have to ice my hands and feet during the treatment. I got these really sexy black sock things that have frozen gel packs in them. And then I have these large frozen clay packs that I wrap over my hands. Having my hands in the cold packs didn’t bother me, but man…it was not comfortable at all on my feet. But I’d rather have a few minutes of uncomfortable once a week, than permanent damage for the rest of my life. So, bring on the sexy black sock thingies!!
Here’s the best part of the update…A few days before my Taxol treatment, I had an MRI to check on how the tumor and lymph nodes were responding to chemotherapy so far. This was done about two weeks after I completed my 4th dose of AC. The results…<drum roll, please>>…”SIGNIFICANT INTERVAL IMPROVEMENT of left breast due to chemotherapy”. “SIGNIFICANT INTO WALL REDUCTION in the size of the left axillary lymphadenopathy”. Y’all. I have significant improvement in both the tumor and lymph nodes! The numbers look great! The tumor mass had a reduction in all 3 measurements (AP x Transverse x Height). And the scan only detected 3 enhancing lymph nodes, where as the previous had detected 8. (There’s still likely more than 3 involved, but the scan only picks up so much.)
So, last Friday was a really good day for the Hulsey family! We are so happy to be done with AC and having such a good recovery with Taxol. And more importantly, we are relieved to see that the cancer is responding very well to treatment. The doctors had told me all along that they fully expected me to beat this and recover with treatment. But there’s just something about having the confirmation in your hands saying…It’s working! The hell you go through with each treatment is worth it! Keep going! So, we will keep going and keep fighting.