Monday, September 25, 2017

Going Beyond Standard

Today, I started round two of six of the chemotherapy drug, Xeloda. As you know – if you’ve been following along - I decided to do extra chemo at the end of my “standard of care” journey, to give me the best shot known to modern medicine of not ever having cancer again. 

Xeloda is a drug primarily for colon cancer, although many women who have breast cancer that has metastasized (or made an unwelcomed return) take the drug as well. Fortunately, a clinical trial that ended in 2015 showed Xeloda could be beneficial for women like me as well. So, to no one's surprise who knows me, I'm going beyond "standard".

The short term “fear” of chemo is of course the dreaded side effects. God only knows what the long-term side effects of pumping poison into your body will do to ya. But let's stay focused on the present shall we? I’ve stared nausea, fatigue, malaise, sadness, anger, and a whole host of other shit dead on. So, after shedding a few tears in complete horror, I swallowed my first set of pills three weeks ago. You see, Xeloda is a pill form of chemotherapy. Unlike my other chemo drugs that were administered via IV through that handy-dandy medi-port installed in my chest with a direct line to my jugular (I lost that beauty along with my boobs in July), this chemo is up to me to take.Twice a day. With food. And a full glass of water. No nurse. No doctor. No one but me to remember and make it happen (and of course Liz, who, every morning so lovingly sets out my morning dosage in one of our wedding shot glasses). I admit, it takes a bit of guts on my part to voluntarily swallow chemo twice a day. But I do it because I choose to fight this fucking disease with everything modern medicine has (and thinks might work).

The side effects of this lovely drug include something referred to as “hand foot syndrome”, or more affectionately “HFS”. This is where the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet become red, swollen and blistered. Yipee! As well as the all-too-familiar twins: nausea and fatigue. At the end of my first round, I encountered a bit of nausea and my feet were sore but I think it was more due to the fact that I need new running/walking shoes – at least that’s what I’m whispering into my own ear at night. But of course, these side effects work on a accumulative effect. That is the longer you take the drug, the more likely and intense the side effects become - something to look forward to in the weeks ahead as they say. 

Eighteen weeks (on a cycle of 2 weeks on and 1 week off) on this drug will take me through the end of 2017. A full year of everything being about cancer. I never would have thought this could have happened to me and when it did, I could have never have thought I’d make it through, but I have and I will. I can only hope each one of us has the opportunity to overcome our fears and exceed our own expectations of ourselves. It's a pretty powerful feeling really. That feeling has helped me conquer much over this past year. I have come to know we humans are stronger than we think. Heck, I’ve faced everyone’s biggest fear – cancer – with my humor intact and my common sense vibrant and enlightened. Take, for examples: good quality, affordable healthcare, keeping us from a nuclear war with the world’s other small-minded “dictator”, and not forgetting the people of Puerto Rico are Americans who need our help to recover from Maria are much more important than pitting the fans of the NFL against the fans of NASCAR.

So, this morning I swallowed my chemo on a full stomach with a full glass of water and got caught up on “Schitts’ Creek”.  Funny, every time the character, Alexis is mentioned, my Echo spins awake. Funny. Keep rooting for me! #Onward

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