March 24, 2014

Overdoing and paying the price

Sometimes I overcommit myself. It could be because I forget to measure my energy, or because I don't know what the impact of a new drug will be. This weekend it was both.

Insomnia on Friday night.
Saw the naturopath first thing Saturday morning, now his only time to see patients.
Bought 48 Theo chocolate bars for Rik's upcoming classroom unit on agriculture and chocolate simulation exercise.
Went to synagogue to meet the final assistant rabbi candidate finalist.
Napped for two hours.
Rehearsed for that evening's choir gig and scared the daylights out of my friends, who were convinced that I would collapse on them.
"Stepped up" to perform -- the show must go on!
Attended a board party to meet to final rabbinic candidate.
Crashed at home to - ta da! - more insomnia.
Barely made it to Sunday brunch but enjoyed coffee, bagels, and TK's art. Went home with four original pieces!
Napped again and went out with Rik for a hamburger.
Slept this time like the proverbial log.
Barely made it to this morning's meeting and lunch with a friend.
Napped again with both dogs. Rik joined us after school.

What's the price for this weekend? Diarrhea, fatigue, hand-foot syndrome, queasy tummy.

I think I was crazy, but I did it all and managed to have fun with everything. As an MBTI extrovert, I get my energy from being with people, cancer notwithstanding.

March 18, 2014

Dinner for seven

Most of our good friends have teenaged children who we've known since birth and/or earliest childhood. Yesterday, two of them who are in college and home for a visit, decided to make dinner for Rik and I and their families. What a treat!

When we talked on Sunday about trying to get together during their visits home, we assumed it would be over food, but I expected to do the cooking. It totally surprised me these lovely young people wanted to be the chefs.

After much texting among the three of us, it all got figured out. I had rice paper wrappers, sweet chili sauce and other condiments on hand. They brought over vegetables, rice noodles, and tofu. While J taught himself how to use the mandoline in order to shred vegetables, A sliced and shredded and then began frying the tofu slices.

The parents came over with A's younger sister (one mom had to leave and we sadly didn't get to see her other son). We ate homemade banitsa, more bread like than usual and no apparent cheese but so yummy, and Thai spring rolls (rice
paper filled with carrots, cucumbers, tofu, rice noodles, peanut sauce and chili sauce). I had picked up a bottle of sparkling apple juice to celebrate S/T and Rik's and my shared anniversary date.  I pulled out some Graeter's ice cream for dessert and we gobbled up the remaining hamentashen made by yours truly and J and his mom.

When your family of origin lives far away and you don't get to see your own niece and nephews frequently, it's especially wonderful when the children of friends step into that role. This is not the first time other people's kids have wanted to cook for us or spend time with us, just because they enjoy our company.

I call this "family of the heart."

March 10, 2014

PET/CT results and new plan

The results of my recent PET/CT scan are the typical, some good and some not-so-good. Nothing has grown a lot, but I do have some new mets. Dr G has decided it's time to add a new drug to the cocktail.

After repeatedly going back and forth over ixibepalone (Ixempra), he checked on the likelihood of peripheral neuropathy this drug causes. 88% of people taking Ixempra develop neuropathy! That is way beyond what I consider an acceptable risk and is inconsistent with trying to balance treating my cancer and living with it. Fortunately Dr G agrees.

In 1999, when I was originally diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, I chose to receive CMF -- Cytoxan, Methotrexate and 5FU -- instead of Adriamycin. My thought at the time was that if my cancer came back, I'd still have a strong drug to go to. And since my paternal grandmother had stage IV breast cancer, I kind of suspected mine might return at some point.

Now Dr G has decided to give me Methotrexate again, since it did a relatively good job in 1999 and was quite tolerable. It comes in IV and oral forms, and he is trying to get my health insurance to approve the oral tablets. If they do, I will take M twice a day on one day, then repeat a week later. It's greatest side effect is that it causes low white blood counts, potentially putting me at risk for infection. I don't know if I will also receive Neulasta to boost my white count.

Now I am waiting for approval and the meds to arrive. In the meantime I started round 14 of Xeloda, went back on Avastin after my second cataract surgery, and continue with Aromasin and Faslodex.

Cancer treatment is very complicated!