The day after

I made it through and it wasn’t bad. The day was long — I was at the hospital at 9 a.m. and didn’t leave until 5:30 p.m. — but it was long with waiting, not long with treatment. I started with blood tests, then signed in at the chemo ward before going up to the 18th floor where I would see my nurse and one of my oncologists for a physical. In the exam room, I met another woman on the AMG 386/temsirolimus trial. Also ovarian, she’s been enrolled since April. It’s keeping her cancer stable, but she’s had two episodes of pleural effusion (water between the lungs and the lining of the chest cavity) that have had to be drained with a chest tube. Oh, it’s awful, she said, I can’t sing or dance. I can never catch my breath. But it’s just an illness. Cancer. It’s not such a big deal. Like diabetes, you just have to control it. She’s been in treatment for five years. This is her second trial. Her original prognosis was four months. And right now, her main complaint is that she can’t sing or dance as she’d like to.

She told me to start juicing beets, carrots, celery, and something green every morning. That since she started doing that, her blood counts have been fine. I think I’ll try to track down a cheap (or free, if anyone has one kicking around they don’t use) juicer and start. My blood counts, as my nurse put it, are always kind of low. Lower than they would like, but since I’ve had my counts monitored for so long now — both on and off treatment — they know my natural state is constantly borderline-low. Fortunately blood counts aren’t a big factor in deciding whether I can get chemo or not since targeted therapies like the one I’m on don’t affect the immune system as much as traditional chemo. Biggest worry is low platelets or anemia, but my white blood cells and neutrophils should remain pretty untouched (which is good, because I really don’t have many of them).

As far as side effects are concerned, there aren’t many to speak of (yet). Yesterday, I didn’t notice anything during the first infusion of the AMG. I received Benadryl before the temsirolimus and had my normal Benadryl side effects — slight nausea, sensitivity to noise, stream-of-consciousness rambling (more so than usual). I slept through the temsirolimus infusion and felt pretty normal, though a bit tired at the end of it all, and my nerve endings were buzzing. My whole body, especially my feet and hands and face, felt like there was a low electrical current running through it. There were a couple hours where everything smelled really strong. My nose felt assaulted. Water tasted terrible, so I downed iced green tea with lemon that I had sitting in the fridge. I don’t feel any nausea, but I also don’t feel like eating.

I have to drop in to the hospital tomorrow afternoon for blood tests and a quick survey of any side effects I may have. Then I’m good until next Friday. I think I’ll ride my bike on chemo days — I’m clear-headed enough by the time everything is finished that I would be comfortable riding, and I can get there in half the time it takes by transit or car. And I want to remain active as long as edema or lung problems aren’t an issue. Plus another cancer blogger wrote about how he rode his bike to and from radiation and chemo, and that’s pretty impressive and I want to be able to say I did it, too.

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About Alicia Louise

I'm a writer, editor, fact checker, storyteller, events organizer, chronically busy yet endlessly lazy, mildly neurotic (though I keep the neuroses well-hidden, one hopes) 32-year-old with recurrent ovarian cancer. I like people and good writing and straight talk. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people, including myself, but the people that I love, I love passionately; one may even say creepily. I try to keep that mostly to myself. I'd like to be charming, but I'm usually just a mess. I'm like a gull slamming into your windshield.
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7 Responses to The day after

  1. Connie says:

    Alicia, the juice may not be a bad idea. When I had chemo, my husband constantly had the juicer going (carrots, celery, etc.). It wasn’t bad if consumed freshly juiced, but I must say, that you CAN get too much of a good thing 🙂 so try not to OD on it at the beginning

  2. E says:

    You might live too far, but I always bike. It’s easier than walking as long as you don’t have to go up hill much. Two-wheeled wheelchair.

    • I’ve been biking to regular appointments and it hasn’t been too bad. It only takes about 20 minutes and frankly I find it easier than trying to stand on the streetcar for 40 minutes. I’m going to try biking to the next chemo session — based on how this one went, I think I should be okay biking home. Other than the hill where Dundas meets College, it’s a flat, easy ride.

      • Amy says:

        P.S. I got a super cheap juicer at superstore for under 30 bucks and its on its 3rd year- I’ve heard from several people about the benefits of juicing and Laurie just told me about frozen pineapples taking the metallic taste out of my mouth (frozen grapes aren’t working as well as before). P.P.S. You ROCK!

      • A friend of mine is bringing over their brand-new never used juicer tomorrow morning!

  3. Amy says:

    Alicia, yet again you continue to astound me with your writing abilities. I have some of the similar problems to the other woman in your study with plural effusion twice. Sucks but hey, I haven’t been given a “deadline” yet so it makes me feel a little safer. My day was a debacle but I am happy yours went well. When is your next treatment, maybe we’ll be on the same day! (Sad that this is what I look forward to).

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