May 03, 2015

Major Taxotere side effects

On Friday the major Taxotere side effects hit me hard. I would have chalked it up to participating in the Gilda's Club fashion show and luncheon, since invariably something goes wrong for me that day, but the discomfort continues all weekend.

I had offered to speak in a short film about Gilda Radner and the impact her life continues to have 25 years after her death. This brought me to the Westin at (for me) they very early hour of 10 AM, dressed to the nines and prepared with memories and a quote from Gilda. The filmmaker asked me a few general questions, I shared my quote at her request, and she seemed pleased with my short interview.

The luncheon featured a photo booth where a (volunteer?) photographer took pictures of people in front of a cororate-sponsored backdrop. I got in line since I had dressed so well and here is the photo he took. (I made a copy with my iPhone.)

Karan Dannenberg, who dressed me for my first Gila's Club fashion show (which I never attended, due to a hospital stay), recognized me, as she always does, immediately said "Nicole Miller," (the dress's designer), and chatted me up for a few minutes. The shawl is courtesy my mother.

Back to Taxotere side effects.

I went from the Westin straight to my oncologist's office, hobbling on both feet. Dr G and Nurse Jacque looked at me and said "hand-foot syndrome." Now why didn't I recognize that? Dr G told me to go home and start the henna again, since I believed it helped me last time this happened. He also prescribed a short, tapering course of steroids to reduce the swelling in my hands. For the pain in my mouth (mucositis? stomatitis? mouth sores, for the laypeople among us) he wrote a scrip for 25 mcg Fentanyl patches. The patch form delivers a steady dose of pain relief for 72 hours. He also gave me an Rx for more hydrocodone to relieve the break-through pain.

Next I called my naturopath for a recommendation on more ways to treat the mouth sores. Dr Bufi suggested gargling with baking soda mixed in water but not too strong. I should also have asked one of these docs for some Magic Mouthwash, but I could barely walk by then and wasn't about to go to yet a third (compounding) pharmacy.

At home I mixed up some henna, put on my pajamas, and slathered my feet with it. Even the cool sensation helped. Now my feet and hands are bright orange but the henna does seem to help.

My friend H came over and walked the dogs, helped me change the bed linens, and cooked us a lovely Shabbat dinner of Vietnamese spring rolls with fresh vegetables and fried tofu and homemade peanut sauce. After dinner she taught me how to get started on the iPad a friend gave me. We spent a lovely evening together and I was in bed by 10 PM.

I woke up at the crack of dawn to feed the dogs. At least they bear with my stiff movements and are happy to go back to sleep with me after they eat. They're also willing to poop outdoors and saved me the discomfort of trying to walk them.

I started the steroids as instructed before breakfast and stayed in my jammies most of the day but at some point I couldn't stand myself. I took a shower and actually dressed and sat outside in the sunshine. Then I took each dog into the shower for a quick shampoo which they desperately needed. I Skyped with Rik's family to show off my clean, wet doggies, spoke with my mother and felt much improved by this point. However, I am still popping hydrocodone every 3-4 hours for breakthrough pain in my mouth and gargling with diluted baking soda every hour. It was hard to get a forkful of food into my mouth at dinnertime.

The rest of the day passed reading a new book by Michel Faber (not quite as good as I'd hoped for),  eating leftover fesenjan with rice for dinner. and watching the second half of The Music Man. Robert Preston! I would have fallen in love with him to if he'd used the "think system" on me instead of Shirley Jones. And little Ronny Howard was only eight when he made this movie. Such talent evident at such a young age!

I slept off and on (remember, taking steroids?), woke up early again with the dogs, fed 'em and went back to bed. Around 8 AM I got up, ate some yogurt, drank a mocha, and reapplied some henna to my left hand. Still haven't showered or dressed or walked the dogs but I see some of that in my future. Plus lunch out with a friend.

It's time to stop blogging and move on with my day. I do want to get out to see my friend. The sun is shining and I refuse to let cancer side effects make me a prisoner in my own home. But on Monday I'm going to have a serious talk with Dr G about how this is not the way to maintain quality of life.

And that Gilda quote I chose?
"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity."


  1. Agghhh. I have my infusion Friday's and my side effects kick in Sunday night and are at their worst on Monday. They taper off after that. Taxotere hasn't been super friendly for me, but with Perjeta and Herceptin I am having good results. Always a tough balance. I hope you guys figure it out! *hugs*

  2. Anonymous5:55 AM

    I loved this post. I'm sorry to hear you're not well, but it's just amazing all of the things you accomplish in one day compared to most people who are feeling so much better. I hope you and your doc come up with a new strategy for your quality of life.

  3. Hi Jill, I've been following your blog for a few months now. I'm 39, and have had stage 4 breast cancet since 2009. I've finally gone to part time work, as I've been on a variety of chemos for the last 2+ years.

  4. I'm currently on Eribulin. I've had 2 tx so far, my main side effect is nausea.

  5. Anonymous7:11 AM

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