I got to hang out with the kids again tonight, which was good. It’s my mother in law’s last night in town which is a bummer, she has been a HUGE help. I’m still staying at my folks house which is of course a HUGE help to me so we’ve got to figure out how our days are going to look for a little while until I am well enough to be home with the kids. Tonight was good, we went to the fry restaurant in olde town and then let the kids pick out some candy at the candy store and drove around to see some Christmas lights. Pretty much a preschool dream I think. The kids loved it and it was great to see them.
My healing continues. I think the swelling is going down because the sensation is changing. It has felt pretty much like a huge steel plate across my chest. Most of my chest is numb to the touch, which is probably helping me honestly. The sensation has felt like a blanket though, just covering the whole thing with a heavy tightness. Today I feel like I can feel the individual tissue expanders. I can feel the edges on my ribs. The most “real world” feeling I can think of to compare it to is a too-tight bra with the underwire digging in. Several times today I absentmindedly touched my chest as if to move the disturbance. Of course it was under the skin so that wasn’t going to work. The cold weather is tough – as soon as the cold air touches my skin I can feel the muscles shrink and my chest tightens up like crazy. Tonight I got home and stood under the hot water in the shower to try and let the muscles relax and expand a bit. It worked while I was in the shower at least.
Yesterday we saw the oncologist to get our next plan of attack. It was nice to see that this time the treatment is “to prevent recurrence of breast cancer” rather than for “treatment of”. I have to meet criteria in my healing from surgery, but assuming all of that falls in line, we would start chemo back up in about a week and a half. The purpose is the same as for everyone else – to try and kill any remaining cells that could be running around in my body after surgery. Even though none of the previous chemo drugs have worked, my understanding is that any new drug still has the expectation of working. There is no way to know for sure if a drug works once surgery is completed and the tumor is removed. So, we’re going to go forward with the treatment cycle and call it good. Knock on wood, this will be my last chemo. The next drug cocktail up to bat is Carboplatin and Gemcitabine. We will go for 6 cycles which is the max from my online research. It is a 3 week cycle unless my blood counts aren’t good enough and then we will skip a week and go to the 4th week in that cycle. We decided to do chemo on Mondays so the cycle would be both drugs, of course with the premeds, on day 1. I would go back and get another dose of Gemcitabine on day 8. Then I’d take one Monday off and go back the following week to start over again. The biggest side effect is to my blood counts – anemia is the most common, but white counts and platelets can also tank. Nausea will be there, more than Taxol but less than AC and I will get meds for it. There are some scary rare side effects but we’ll wait and see if any of those come up. Hopefully it will just be fatigue and nausea. Mouth sores and all of those fun things will be there too so I’m sure I’ll have to go back to the rinse and routine. My doctor did say hair loss is less than AC so there is a chance I could regrow some hair while in treatment. Oh, and did I mention that my first treatment will be on Christmas Eve? And that makes Day 8 New Year’s Eve. So happy holidays for our family. Sigh.
I will also go see the radiation oncologist next month. Radiation is standard for anyone who gets a lumpectomy. For mastectomy patients, radiation is used if the tumor removed was over 5cm or if there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes. I do not meet any of those qualifiers, but the doctors are still looking at the possibility of radiation for me because of the seriousness/aggressiveness of my case combined with my age. In my case, they are being very aggressive obviously. The doctors have told me about several times that they have discussed my case at their meetings and the radiation oncologist is at these meetings so she will be familiar with my case even though we haven’t met in person.
I feel like I am in such a strange place in my life right now. Still dealing with so much of what has happened, but completely removed from my normal environment, literally not living in my house. I know I will get back to a normal place, but it is certainly a lot to process for me right now. I did make an appointment with the therapist that the doctor at the hospital recommended so hopefully that will help. Dealing with the aftermath of surgery is a lot to think about right now. The past couple weeks have been quite a blur, it is literally hard for me to remember a lot of it. I think that’s a good thing – I know our bodies do that to protect us. I am just taking things one day at a time.