Posted by: Sarah | July 20, 2005

Busy Day for this Cancer Girl

Had my weekly appointment with the oncologist. Usually I just say “gained (or lost) weight, had a Neulasta shot, doing fine.” But this week was a little different.

My white blood cell counts are at an all-time low (or, as the oncologist says “they are in a coma.”), which could jeopardize the planned Round #4 in the first week of August. Instead of the usual Neulasta shot, I am having a three-day series of a shot whose name I cannot remember for the life of me (stupid chemo brain!), but it is supposed to be faster-acting than Neulasta. Neulasta takes 9 days to see the effects on the white blood cell counts; the three-day series should see effects by the end of the series of shots (I think). I’m also on a new mega anti-biotic to make sure germs don’t take advantage of my comatose white blood cells.

Good news is that the shot is a subcutaneous shot, not one that will need to go through the port (which–as much of a Godsend as it is–is still a little ouchy when they access it) or intramuscularly. Sub-q? Pshaw, I can do those standing on my head (the heparin shots I did during the pregnancy with the boys were sub-q).

Oncologist talked about my weight again. I’m down three pounds from last week (told you it was a brutal weekend), and 11 pounds overall from my first oncologist visit post-diagnosis. He personally wasn’t concerned about the weight loss, but wanted to make sure I understood why. If you remember, last week he mentioned a new study out that found that breast cancer patients who didn’t gain weight post-treatment had lower rates of recurrence of their cancer than patients who gained weight. So he was underscoring the connection between this, and making sure I understand that it would probably be best if I don’t gain back much of the lost weight after treatment.

I also had another meeting with the breast cancer support group. Mom, they have been asking me to bring a copy of your poem you wrote to your oncologist/plastic surgeon with me for two meetings now and I keep forgetting, but I PROMISE you, I’ll remember it next time! Several of the members of the group have written funny cancer poems and I am eager to share yours (I assumed it would be okay). One woman in the group, Donna, has read a funny poem at every single group, and today’s poem was about our leader, Pat, showing the group her reconstructed breast and nipple…just as the UPS man walked in the room! (this happened at my very first meeting — we all fell over laughing at his face)

Among the more serious things we discussed was my recent thoughts (revival of thoughts I’ve had for a few years now) that maybe my post-cancer plans should include going to nursing school. I’ve really loved all the nurses who’ve helped me along the way (especially those in the hospital after my surgeries, and OBVIOUSLY the oncology nurses) and have been pondering the question of “is it for me?” Not just that question, but the further question of “is it just because I’m a cancer patient right now?” Consenus of opinion among the group members was that it was NOT an idea that I should be suspicious of, but that it in fact might just be how cancer changes my life. As Pat said, “it’s unusual that having cancer will not cause major changes in one’s life.” Further, they pointed out (as my oncologist had, as I mentioned it to him as well) that my being a cancer patient would give me something that not everyone in the medical profession can offer to their own patients: empathy for the situation. My oncologist in particular said that would be a significant plus for my potential new career as a nurse, in his opinion.

Oh my Gosh, and then one of the women in the group (whom I’ve only seen at treatment twice before today) rushed in all worried about me, asking how I’d done with my third round. I told her the truth, that it was pretty bad, and she replied that she’d dreamt about me over the weekend–dreamt that I was sleeping when I shouldn’t be–and the dream upset her so much that she woke up calling “Sarah! Sarah!” and worried about me the whole rest of the weekend until she knew she’d see me at group today. Isn’t that interesting? I kinda hope she doesn’t dream about me again if that means I’ll have a bad response to a round of chemo! šŸ˜‰

So you see it was rather a busy day. It’s been a series of busy days around here, with no end in sight.

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