November 24, 2014

Sniffle sniffle

For the past ten days I've had innumerable cups of tea (the hot water just came to a boil now). Plenty of Tylenol. So many hours on the couch or in bed. And yet this cold, or whatever it is, remains stuck with me. Plus last week's Avastin gave me nosebleeds, and the Abraxane fatigue is on top of everything else.

In these few days before the Thanksgiving holiday, I know I can't get in to see Dr G (I tried last week). So for what I hope is a minor upper respiratory thing-y, I will try to call my primary care doctor and see a) if she can see me, and b) if there's anything she can do. If Dr K is too busy I may have to ride out this cold-or-whatever-it-is until I see Dr G next week.

Not looking for advice here; just "pissing and moaning" about feeling yucky. I hardly ever catch a cold, and certainly not one which lasts this long.

November 15, 2014

My 55th birthday

Today I celebrated my 55th birthday with my hubby and dogs, and five very close friends who have all known me for twenty years (or longer, in one case). We ate too much chocolate, drank a little too much champagne, and talked for several hours.

One birthday card quoted Marcel Proust. His words belong to everyone in the world.

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy.
They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

To friends near and far, l'chaim -- to life!

November 08, 2014

Done with acupuncture

Dr Rudolph and I agreed that while I am in a treatment that has a side effect of neuropathy, the acupuncture is simply trying to keep my feet at their current (or perhaps a bit reduced) level of discomfort. It's kind of expensive to continue just to keep this holding spot, so I have decided to stop acupuncture for now. If the neuropathy progresses, or if I change treatments, I can look at starting acupuncture again.

In the meantime, I'll continue with gabapentin, L-glutamine powder, and the occasional use of 5% lidocaine cream, which is available over the counter.

November 02, 2014

Tumor markers down


I saw Dr G last week and after repeat scanning of my liver and brain, it appears that my mets are stable and my tumor markers have dropped another 50 points.

The potential infection in my port line may or may not exist. Last week I saw an infectious disease specialist who is not convinced that I have an infection. He wants me to stop using my port for blood draws a few days before using it for chemo, to give anything that might be brewing a chance to heal. So I will go early to chemo, have my blood drawn for labs, and spend an extra hour in Ballard waiting for results, instead of having a phlebotomist stick me in the arm, and then run out of usable veins in a matter of weeks. That's why I got a port in the first place. Lymphedema in one arm means no needle sticks; crappy small veins in the other arm means I prefer to use the port. And no one wants to have to stick me in the feet or in the neck, the best other options. Uggh….

Back for more chemo tomorrow!

Acupuncture

I may not have blogged already about treating my neuropathy with acupuncture. Someone in my support group mentioned this as a viable alternative and I decided to check it out. I'd tried acupuncture the second time I was on Abraxane and it did seem to give some relief. (Unfortunately, Dr G tried Taxol and it brought the neuropathy in my feet back, raging, after only one dose.)

This time I am seeing Dr Gregory Rudolph at Swedish Pain and Headache Services. He's an MD as well as a licensed acupuncturist.

The treatment goes in six visits - four that are one week apart, and the last two which are two weeks apart. He uses acupuncture needles plus mild electric stimulation.

After the first visit, I didn't notice any difference.

On the second visit, in additional to needles on the top of my feet and shins, Dr Rudolph placed one needle in the ball of each foot and a small, gold stud in each ear. Evidently the ear is a microcosm of the body and this was supposed to help with pain management. I don't know which point was responsible - the ear or the ball of the foot - but I could barely walk that week and the pain/numbness/tingling felt out of control. I was miserable.

I told Dr Rudolph about this on my third visit. I wanted to avoid the ear studs, since placing them was painful to me and I hadn't brought along my lidocaine cream. We agreed to try it the next time with me using the cream. He did not place any needles on the bottom of my feet.

For the fourth visit, I was prepared and used the lido cream about 30 minutes before my appointment. Dr Rudolph placed two gold studs in each ear, but hadn't told me in advance where the second stud was to go, so that area was not treated with lido cream. Given my lack of discomfort with the numbed ear, he agreed that the lido cream worked and put the second stud in a spot that would also work for pain management and where I had rubbed in the lido cream. Again, he did not put needles on the balls of my feet.

That was last Thursday. All four gold studs are still in place. My feet don't feel any different. Dr Rudolph had asked if my energy felt different. Since I spent all of Friday and much of Saturday in bed, I can't say that I have better energy. Different - as in fatigue - just not better.

I start another cycle of Abraxane tomorrow and will get acupuncture again on Thursday. We'll see how it helps!

October 22, 2014

PS

The interventional radiology PA says my neck looks improved. I will see Nurse Jacque this Friday so she can access my port before my CT scan and MRI. She can check (and maybe Dr G too, although he doesn't officially see patients on Fridays). He will give me the scan results next Monday, so I'll have another few days to see if the port line continues to look better after I finish the antibiotic.

PPS My blood pressure has been high since Monday a week ago with my most recent dose of Avastin. Dr G now says that since my BP hasn't gone down very far, it will also be my last dose of Avastin. I've had a long run with that drug, it's helped, but eventually things do stop working.

I think they call it entropy.    : )

October 21, 2014

What's up

Now that the Jewish fall holy days are finished, I feel as though things are settling down. Except that last week I was diagnosed with an infection in my port line.

10-21-2014 (bad selfie)
(actually 10-13-2014)

















The line had been reddish for a few days but the nurses at Swedish urged me to contact Interventional Radiology and have someone else see it. I went in the next day, the IR PA (physician's assistant) prescribed oral antibiotics, told me to come back in a week, and if it hadn't cleared up sufficiently, he'd put me on intravenous antibiotics.

Yesterday the infusion nurses all agreed it looked better. Personally, I can't tell. But I will go back to see the IR guy tomorrow and eventually write an update.

October 13, 2014

Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day



Today is Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) Awareness Day. 
We invite you to view our MBC awareness video at metavivor.org.


Sincerely,

METAvivor Research and Support

October 09, 2014

From one holiday to the next

It always feels as thought autumn is full of holidays and holy days. From starting a new year to the Great I'm Sorry (aka Yom Kippur) and then sliding into the harvest fest of Sukkot, it's one celebration after another. Unless you have metastatic cancer.

Ringing in the new year was fun and spiritually satisfying. Yom Kippur was more challenging: the rush to eat dinner at 4:30 pm in order to be at synagogue by 5:45 pm; the long 25 hour fast; the inner cleansing and asking for forgiveness; remembering those we've lost; and finally a great hullaballoo at the end when we're practically dancing in the aisles during the final shofar blast.

The break-fast felt quiet after so much energy spent during the day. The next morning, Rik put up our sukkah (temporary shanty) with help from friends, and more friends came over to decorate it. My sukkah, now in it's 22nd year, looks like a lifetime of memories from our twenty years of marriage and even before.

But this Abraxane is beginning to wear me down. On Monday I felt fine, but got hit with diarrhea immediately upon arriving home. Tuesday I could barely get out of bed; it was just as well that Rik needed the car all day. Wednesday and today have been better but not terrific. I expect next week's chemo to hit me as hard. That will be the third dose in this second round.

So now I'm going to try to relax, cuddle with the dogs, maybe watch some TV or read a book. I'm already in my jammies.

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I dance with cancer. Oy!