Yesterday I had my April checkup at the oncologist. I have been having increasing problems with my nails in the past few weeks, part of the hand and foot syndrome from Xeloda. They are starting to “lift”, break, etc. I won’t get into the gross details, but despite my best efforts with various creams and gloves they are a mess. I’ll be taking an extra week “off” from chemo (I usually do one week of twice daily pills, then one week of no pills). After the break, I’ll be lowering my dose to two pills twice a day. There’s a possibility that may not be strong enough, so we’ll be watching my tumor markers closely over the next few months. I may have to go back up to three pills eventually. Xeloda comes in 500mg and 150mg pills. I’ve been taking the 500mg pills, so it’s possible I can do two of those and one of the 150mg pills. Just trying to find the right balance between keeping the cancer under control and side effects at a manageable level. My last chemo break was in December and that seemed to really help with the various side effects, so I’m looking forward to a kind of “reset” of the toxicity.
I had bloodwork done and the anemia continues, but white blood cells (that fight infection) are good. I’ve been making an attempt at geting more protein and that seems to be helping my energy level a bit. Tumor markers will be available later in the week. I get my bloodwork done through my port (a tube implanted just under my collarbone) so I have to go to the “healing room” where they do chemo infusions. One of the patients next to me teased me about how I only had to stay a short time. I told her that I take my chemo at home, swallow the pills and then keep chasing after the kids. 😉
I also talked to my doctor a bit about long term plans. She wants me to keep taking the Xeloda as long as I can tolerate it and it keeps working. She says if the blood tests look good and I don’t have any cancer symptoms (like bone pain, headaches, liver pain, breathing problems) we can hold off on the scans. I asked her what would be the next drug and she gave me a long list of possible chemos, saying that there isn’t one particular one that we have to do next. Each drug has different side effects, so part of the decision would come down to which side effects seem more manageable to me. So for example, I might choose a drug that doesn’t have hand and foot syndrome next so I can give my poor feet a break. She says that the other chemos are not necessarily more difficult than the one I’m on now, so that was good to hear. Also, given that we got a mixed response with the Faslodex (hormone shots) last summer we might consider those again in the future too.
It was good to talk all of this through and I think what it really comes down to is that it’s hard for me not to have a plan or a goal in mind. I have been trying to just take things as they come but that sort of goes against my nature so it’s hard to get used to. Just ask Mike about my checklists. Haha.