Friday, February 19, 2016

Mountain Climbing: The Fourth Round of Chemo and Going Bald!

Today, I climbed to the top of another flight of stairs and reached another plateau on the Mountain!  I completed the fourth round of chemo and it was also the last round of the Adriamycin and Cytoxan (also known and A & C) combination of chemo medicines.  The A & C rounds are supposed to be the hardest part of chemo, with the more severe side effects.  So, with this last round, today, I might be over the hardest part of my climb!  Time to celebrate - with milk shakes on the way home!  My taste buds have changed and the milk shake didn't taste quite "right".  But I drank it anyway!

I now get a 4-week break before I start the next round of chemo, which will be Taxol.  These will be done as weekly treatments; 12 in all.

The Taxol will have its own share of side effects, including nausea, hair loss, dizziness, joint and muscle pain, diarrhea, tingling and numbness in hands and feet, etc.  But the dosage is supposed to be lower than the A & C and so, the side effects will be lesser (which is why it will be given weekly).  Of course, all will depend on how I react to the drug. I am hopeful that the side effects won't be too bad. 

The Taxol will be followed by 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments.

This morning, daughter and I left the house at 7:30 a.m. as usual for the 8:45 a.m. appointment.  I had to wait for almost an hour and a half before I was called in to consult with the nurse practitioner and it was 10:45 a.m. before I was hooked up to the IV for the actual treatment.  By which time I was hungry!

So, daughter went to a nearby fast food place and got me a small hamburger!  The patient seated next to me was eating a submarine sandwich which included raw vegetables, a healthier alternative to a burger, but, at the same time, totally disregarding the recommendation to avoid eating raw vegetables!  When I first went in for treatments, I didn't want to eat in the treatment room out of consideration for the other patients, but I soon realized that several patients had their lunch during treatment and I presumed it was OK as the staff didn't say anything.  So, now, I, too, eat lunch during treatment.

Today, I also made an appointment to be fitted for a wig!  They are provided free to patients by a non-profit organization formed in the memory of a lady who died of cancer.  I had been resistant to the idea of a wig; I had planned to wear scarves or hats, instead.  However, I saw another patient with her new wig, today, and it looked nice and she persuaded me that a free wig would be something good to have.  It will give me another option.  I have to shave my head before I go in for the fitting, so I'll do that.  I have lost quite a bit of my hair and it's time to complete the process.

Here is how my hair looked on December 14, 2015, ten days after the 1st chemo session, still long and abundant:

December 14, 2015

Ten days later, on December 24, 2015, Christmas Eve, I had daughter cut it short for me, as I was combing out clumps of hair:

December 24, 2015

 And this is the back of my head, today, February 19, 2016, after my 4th chemo:

February 19, 2016 - Going Bald!

Sigh.  Oh, well, one of the tenets of my religion (Buddhism) is that all things are transient and subject to change.  The loss of my hair is just another change.  And my mother always insisted that change was good!  So, I shall take this in stride and move forward.  One of my friends thinks I should get a fun, blue wig, just in case.  My daughter has offered to buy me a purple one because, when I started to go grey and various members of my family and some friends urged me to start coloring my hair, I threatened to dye it purple!  (Purple is a favorite color of mine).  LOL. 

I knitted on the white with blue stripes scarf (one of my works-in-progress) while I had my treatment and daughter did her reading for homework.  Treatment was over at 1:00 p.m. and we were home a little after 2:00 p.m.

White with Blue Stripes Scarf in Progress

My gardener bought me 5 rose bushes (purple/burgundy iceberg roses) to fill in some of the bare spots in the garden and a bag of gladioli bulbs.   He will also buy me some planting mix and bone meal, as well.  As I don't go shopping these days (due to my compromised immunity), I give him the money, he does the purchasing and brings me the receipts, and we settle up accounts as needed.  He was feeling a bit under the weather, so after he dropped off the plants, he left.  The new roses will be planted next week.

In the afternoon, I worked on office work (received new assignments, today).  I plan to work on office work during the days when I feel well enough, next week, to minimize the amount of sick leave I have to take.

I haven't made any plans for tomorrow.  It all depends on how I feel, in terms of side effects. Of course I am hoping that there will be minimal side effects.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Reaching the milestone of my 4th chemo and the last of the A&C ones!
- Having climbed the hardest part of the mountain!
- Milk shakes (even if the taste has changed!)
- Never had to contend with a metallic taste in my mouth, just changed taste buds (can't taste salt, for example)
- Knowing that all things are subject to change and change is good!

Thank you all for coming along with me this far on the journey and mountain climbing. 

How was your Friday?


  1. Oh Bless, you must not scare you readers with your photos! The last photo of the back of your head looks like your skin has turned pearly white and crumpled. :o

    I can assure everyone despite the sorry state of the hair Bless's head is just fine, inside and out. :)


    1. LOL, Jazz. I admit that maybe the light from the lamp behind my head might have something to do with the way the picture turned out. :D Shall try doing a selfie of the back of my head in daylight!

    2. You might want to shave first. A freshly shaved and creamed / oiled scalp will look more stylish than those sorry leftover strands of hair.


    3. And I might find out that my scalp really is pearly white and wrinkled! LOL!

  2. I was amused at the suggestion of a blue or purple wig because years ago I wore a blue wig at hallowe'en. It was a curly one, unlike my fine straight hair, and I quite liked myself in it!

    1. Maybe I could have a whole collection of wigs in different colors! Blue, purple, pink, green, etc. :)

  3. So happy you made the milestone... the 4 chemo treatments finished.. I am praying the next ones [the weekly ones] will be easier on you. hugs.
    I had to laugh at the blue or purple wig..[you need to post a photo of that.ha] Have a blessed day.

    1. Thank you, Judy. I've been told that the worst is over and the next chemo sessions will be easier. We shall find out.

      As for the wigs, one has to keep a sense of humor to get through all this. :)

      Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

  4. Losing something like hair is always hard, but it will grow back - possibly curly! You are being so brave and I find what you write inspiring to me in my very different circumstances. Prayers continue x

    1. Thank you for the continued prayers and for saying that you find my writing inspiring to you. I am very touched by that.

      Yes, I've been told the hair will grow back; I certainly hope so. If not, it'll have to be wigs from now on! :)


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