Today was my monthly checkup with the oncologist. Over the past few weeks my hip pain has been getting worse and radiating to my lower back and down my leg at times. I’ve also been having more liver pain and some trouble catching my breath. Sleeping has been tough. During the exam, my doctor found that there were “decreased breath sounds” from the lower right lung.
All of that together means that maybe the Faslodex hormone shots are just too slow right now. It’s very possible that they may work, and we will probably try them again in the future, but for now I’m going to start an oral chemo called Xeloda. I take 4 pills in the morning and 4 at night for two weeks, then take a one week break. The most common side effects for this drug are upset stomach and something called “hand and foot syndrome” where the skin on your hands and feet gets red and irritated (do yourself a favor and do not do a google image search for that ;-)). To prevent that, I have to use lots of heavy duty lotion. Today I had a chemotherapy teaching session with the nurse practitioner where she reviewed the side effects, how to take the medicine, answered questions, and explained when I should call the doctor. If the side effects get bad, they can lower the dosage or change the schedule to one week on, one week off.
On the positive side, I get to keep my hair. This is really great since I just got some fabulous highlights. Also the kids get a little worried seeing my bald. I don’t need to be quite as paranoid about exposure to germs as with some of the other chemos. There are also no “pre-medications” like steroids or anti-nausea pills that I have to take. This is a good thing because they can sometimes cause more trouble than the chemo. I do have Compazine and Zofran for nausea/vomiting and Immodium for diarrhea just in case. Since the chemo is in a pill form, I don’t have to sit in the “healing room” with all the old people (no offense to old people) watching daytime TV to get infusions via my port-a-cath. Also, this shouldn’t effect the trip to Florida or the two work trips I have planned over the next few months.
I’ll start the Xeloda tonight. Next week I need to have another CT scan as a baseline. I’m going to continue to have monthly checkups, bloodwork, and Xgeva shots. I’ll also get bloodwork done after each 3 week cycle of the Xeloda, just to check my immune system functioning. We’ll watch the tumor markers, scans, and my symptoms, but as long as the Xeloda keeps working, defined as things either getting better or not getting worse, I’ll keep taking it.
Thanks everyone for your love. I just want you to know that I am OK. I feel like Dory the fish on Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”.