Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Taxol and Herceptin

I happily put the four cycles of Adriomycin and Cytoxan behind me, and enter the less stressful world of Taxol and Herceptin. I've been told that Taxol has fewer and milder side effects, so I was cautiously optimistic about it. However, a few days before I started, a woman at Cherry Hill talked to me about HER chemo, and said she took a Taxol-like drug and just laid in bed and hurt for two months. Nice. (Actually, this woman was very nice and young like me (diagnosed at 37), and I really enjoyed talking to her. I wish she wouldn't have freaked me out about Taxol is the only thing.) I was also a little worried about Taxol because I know what to expect from AC, so a new drug was a little stressful.

I can officially say that Taxol/Herceptin KICKS AC'S BUTT. Remember the fatigue and nausea from AC? Forget it! Bone pain? Not so far! General misery from constipation? Let me put it this way: Taxol is dissolved in a solution similar to castor oil. I may have a little bit of the opposite problem of constipation, but it's WAY better. Way. Way.

The only problem with Taxol (so far, let's not jinx ourselves) is that I had an allergic reaction to it and my throat swelled up and I had a hard time breathing. No big deal. At least, it wasn't a big deal when you consider I had a full bevy of nurses with drugs like Benadryl surrounding me. My sweet nurse, Deanna, told me that since my heart rate and blood pressure didn't go up, I should be able to take my 11 more cycles of Taxol. Once the reaction was under control, they gave me the rest of the Taxol, and I kept breathing and everything. So, that's good. I may ask the nurses to hang around for my first 10 minutes of Taxol on Friday, but hopefully everything should be fine.

A lot of people have been asking about what the rest of my treatment will look like. So here's a review. I have 11 more cycles of Taxol/Herceptin, which takes me to my 36th birthday in early October. Then I have six weeks of radiation, which is five days a week. Yuck. That will end right about Thanksgiving. Along with the radiation, I have to keep taking Herceptin for a year, so until about Sabrina's 6th birthday. However, my hair WILL grow back with Herceptin, so by next school year, I should be good to go without a wig and look normal. I'm looking very much forward to looking normal. I'll also get my reconstruction next summer, as well as finally getting my port out. Then I'll just have some physical and psychic scars to remind me of my Year With Cancer. I'll be dang glad to get to that point.


Last week, the family (and when I say the family, I mean my parents and their progeny) went to California to spend a week on the beach. My parents rented a beach house, and the 13 of us settled in for a week of lounging.

Overall, it was an amazing vacation. I was deathly ill very sick the whole time with a cold, so that was miserable. Also, it was a little colder than optimal for getting into the Pacific. The Pacific, after all, is an ocean, and doesn't warm up that much when the air is only in the low 70s. There were a couple of gorgeous days, though, and I was able to relive my childhood by going boogie boarding. I was the best at it of anyone. Not to brag, of course.

We also got to see Aunt Gay, Uncle Peter, and some of their progeny. Lizzie came down one day, and then was generous enough to go to Disneyland with us. I mean, what teenager voluntarily goes to Disneyland with 7 little kids and rides Mr. Toad's Wild Ride all day? Only an awesome one! Jacob also came to the beach and gave us skinboarding lessons. He was quite impressive, actually. Cy and Jared came down too, which was impressive given that they had a 3-hour drive. Well, a 3-hour drive plus California traffic, which means a 72-hour drive. (Why does anyone want to live in Southern California? The weather is a small comfort for the 62 million people who ALSO want to drive on the same freeway as you.)

We took one day from our Beach Paradise to go to Disneyland. The 62 million people on the freeway with us were no contest to the 10984383095897 gazillion people who were also at Disneyland with us, but fortunately we mostly stayed on the kiddie rides and fast passed the few grownup rides we went on. Sabrina was "convinced" to go on a few faster rides, but even I was not coldhearted enough to force her onto Splash Mountain. She would have been scarred for life. Heck, I was practically scarred for life! Looking down that last drop....

Anyway, it was a lovely trip even though Zane worked four or five hours a day for some very needy clients and Raiden didn't much like to sleep through the night and I was so sick. It takes a lot to ruin a week with a backyard beach!


Five years ago, Tiny was born. Tiny, T-bone, call her what you will, she is now a sparkling five-year-old.

Sabrina is a typical almost kindergartener in some ways. She loves pink, sparkles, princesses, and (apparently) La La Loopsy. (This was Grandma Saundra's present to her. Sabrina was very gratifying when she opened it.) She loves her brothers, except when she is bugged by them.

On the other hand, Sabrina is the most precious girl alive. Yes, this is partly because she's my baby, my oldest, my big girl. She is beautiful. She is sweet. She is so careful and kind to her brothers, especially Raiden. With Sasha, she has a more contentious relationship, but that's because they are so close in age. Mom told me siblings fight about 30% of the time, and that statistic made me feel much better. They're normal. But when they're not fighting, Sabrina and Sasha are the greatest of playmates.

With her peers, Sabrina is so social. She is the oldest child of two oldest children, so being a little bossy was somewhat inevitable. Still, although she tends to instruct others as to what they are "in the game," she is also kind and sweet, and rarely gets angry when others (aside from Sasha) want to play other things.

Common phrases around our house include "in the game," "I am the mom," and "Saaaa-shaa!" Oh yeah, and "I love you Mommy." That's my personal favorite.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


We are going to California tomorrow! So naturally, Sabrina shows up (while I'm trying to get the house clean) with a backpack full of clothes to take. Here's what she packed:

1 turtleneck
2 long-sleeved shirts
3 pairs of thick pants
3 pairs shorts
1 pair pj bottoms
0 pj tops
2 short-sleeved shirts
0 panties
0 swimsuits

Sigh. That's why Mom has to do all the packing. She really fought giving up that turtleneck, too.

In other news, I'm done with Adriomycin and Cytoxan! That's the nasty chemo that makes me sleep and take drugs for four days afterward. You'd think that would make me happy, but I had a serious breakdown when getting it for the last time. I'm not sure why, other than it was a cumulative experience. The first chemo was a novelty, the second I still had my hair so I was "normal," the third I also had a breakdown, and the fourth I had to stay with my parents for a weekend so I could cope with my life. I think I'm okay again, but geez, I'm so tired of having cancer!

Monday, July 1, 2013


Last night I had a nightmare. I was teaching my first day at Snowcrest, and it was AWFUL. I was incompetent, impotent, and my students sneaked out the door and left me with four students. One of the kids who was so terrible was my sister-in-law Vienna. The fact that she is currently going to BYU did not register in my dream. No, she was a snotty 7th grader in my dream.

I know this dream will not come true, because I am not an impotent teacher in real life. Still, I woke up planning extra work for those little buggers before I remembered the real kids in real life did not do anything.

In psychoanalyzing my dream, I think this is the cancer invading my teaching. Invasive cancer, if you will. It has metastasized its way into my teaching life, curse it. I have been feeling powerless with this dumb disease. Now I have felt that same powerlessness in other areas of my life. Well, I banish thee, cancer. Stay within yourself and stop trying to mess with the rest of my life that has nothing to do with you!

Last chemo cycle of this type is Wednesday. Just getting through.