Numbers

Numbers play an important role in everyone’s life.  A lot of times without even noticing, everyone is concerned about some type of number.  Sometimes numbers can be good or bad.  I know that numbers have always played a role in my life.  Whether it be birthdays gone by, number of days to vacations, performance goals, countdown starts on Monday for the weekend and the list goes on and on. Numbers play an importantly  role in cancer treatment too.  Sometimes, it easy to get caught up in the numbers instead of living life.

There are so many important numbers to look at when going through cancer treatment.  Will my blood work numbers be good enough for me to continue treatment?  What cycle of treatment are you on?  Will my white blood count be low so I have to be concerned about infection? Taking your temperature twice a day and praying the numbers don’t indicate an infection.  Will the platelet count be low to be concerned about bleeding and bruising?  Will the red blood count be low and cause anemic symptoms?   How many more days do you need to take this medicine?  How many more pills can I actually be expected to take on a daily basis?  How many more days/months until the next scan to see if the cancer has progressed or stable?  How much was that bill for?  Getting caught up in the cancer statistic numbers is so easy.   I know more about blood work numbers now than I ever wanted to know.  Some of the numbers patients do need to monitor.  You must not let these numbers dictate how you live your life.

I still find myself looking at the numbers and comparing to previous months.  Do these numbers play as important role as they did in the beginning?  I will still enjoy any good news in the numbers, yes  but I do not let the numbers allow me to get me upset.  I do not have control over these numbers.  I do not let the numbers determine how I am going to live my life.  Is God looking at these numbers to determine my life?  As long as I can,  I will live my life to the fullest and enjoy every moment I have.

Joshua 1:9 – ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’IMG_0918

 

 

Hair

If you ask many cancer patients what one of their main concerns are about Chemo, a lot will say hair loss.  It is to be expected.  I never thought about it before, but I took having hair for granted.  Now that I have been bald before,  I know that hair is just that hair.  It shouldn’t define who I am as a person.

When I started my new treatment this year, the nurse told me I may have hair loss or thinning .  Well, that brought up a bunch of questions.  How likely was I to lose all my hair and if thinning how much to expect.  I am not new to being bald.  The first time I had chemo in 2014, hair loss was expected and I chose to shave my head before it fell out on its own.  I didn’t mind being bald but I  did like having hair better.  I was lucky and my niece Kristi is a hairdresser and shaved my head for me.  It was more of a personal feeling and family was there did not make the experience as dramatic.  My husband Steve even shaved his head at the same time.  I have never imagined what I would look like bald.  I have to admit it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Steve would shave my head for me every week.  It became a nice time where we would discuss things to keep our minds off the current situation.  I was not an easy person to shave because I wouldn’t keep still.  So kudos to Steve for being patient and understanding.   I chose not to wear a wig.  I had brought one but only wore it once or twice just to see how I looked.  It was a very pretty and nice wig.  The place where I got the wig matched my current hairstyle and color from a picture and it did look great.  I just liked wearing it bald.   I got many compliments on being bald but also some people were uncomfortable with my baldness.  I did wear chemo hats a lot because it was winter time.  As anyone who is bald can tell you,  my head sure did get cold in the winter.  There are other alternatives such as the cold chemo cap that can be worn during chemo to avoid hair loss.  Not a lot of chemo centers offer the cold cap option currently.  It is  a nice option if hair loss is a major concern.

For more information about the cold chemo caps,

https://arcticcoldcaps.com/

After my first set of chemo treatments in 2014,  I waited for my hair to come back.  I had heard so many stories about the hair texture and color changing after chemo.  Well, when it started growing back it was gray very fine hair.  I didn’t like it. I told Steve that we would keep shaving it until it either changed or I would reserve myself to being bald.  After about a month of shaving the gray fine hair away, it finally started growing back brown and the regular texture.  I was so glad.

So over the years, my hair has grown back almost the same as it was previous to chemo.  So, facing losing my hair again did not seem as much of an issue for me this time.  My hair did start thinning after a few weeks of my current treatments.  Other survivors had stories of some losing all their hair under this treatment while others were able to keep their hair.  Not many people even knew my hair was thinning unless I told them.  The most noticeable for me was my eyebrows were thinning.  So, I discussed with many people and even prayed to God about if I should shave my hair,   The thinning for me just felt and looked weird.  I would and still do ask Steve if he thinks if my hair is thinning.

At CTCA,  I  also meet with a neutropath specialist during treatment.  A neutropath specialist to me means someone that can assist me with alternative means to combat a situation without relying on medication.  It was recommended that I start biotin supplement.  Biotin is used to strengthen brittle nails, hair and many other options.  I started the biotin supplement and als started using ogx biotin and collagean shampoo.  For, now I am happy to report my hair has started growing again and it has more volume than before.  I still am prepared that other treatments may cause me to lose my hair and I may  bald again.  For now,  I just enjoy what I have.

First cycle of chemo completed

Today is the 21st day of ibrance the oral chemo.  I was so ready for this day. I have been counting down since the beginning.  I have never been so happy to see an empty pill bottle. Thank God I was able to complete the first cycle.   I get 7 days off.  I technically am not sure why I get 7 days off but I hope it gives time for my body to recover.  I also finished my booster chemo injections so now I will get the injections once every month.  I bombed my blood test this week .  Everything was low WBC, platelets, hemoglobin, potassium, etc.  Dr. Citrin said we will continue the high dosage of ibrance and Faslodex for now.  If the blood tests still come back low then may have to lower for the next cycle.  I have to get my blood test every two weeks here.  The results are sent to CTCA.  My potassium levels are so low, I get to add potassium pills to my daily pills.   All of this may explain why I am so tired.

As a result of the low platelets,  my injections bleed for a while and left some pretty bruises.  Needless to say I haven’t been sitting for long.  I am sure they will get better soon.  I thought, not that anyone told me it was the case,  that these injections and oral chemo would be easier than the IV chemo I had the first time I had breast cancer.  I guess each type has its own side effects.  One is definitely not easier than the other though.  Or, I may not want to remember how bad the first chemo was.  Other patients have told me that the side effects can differ with each cycle.  I pray it gets better with time.  I know a lot of other patients have a lot more side effects than I do.

I know that this is a long-term plan.  It was great to hear Dr. Citrin say that I was doing great so far.  I know that God is with me!

My first oncologist Dr. Fernette used to tell me

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Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

There have been many days that I have prayed to not only to take the cancer away but to also make each day better.  I know that God is right beside me and will get me through this like he has everything else.   I know my faith, attitude and all of your prayers and support will see me through this.  I pray for all those going through hard times.  Even though things may be rough some days,  I know that there are some people way worse off than me.

Psalm 55:22 Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.