Monday, July 26, 2010

It's amazing the difference three months makes

Last Friday, I had my first infusion since my last round of chemo in April. I was given Zometa, which has been shown to reduce risk of recurrence, specifically in bone metastases, for pre-menopausal women. I was absolutely dreading it. After all of my trips to chemo, all of the pokes to get blood and start IVs, and the general feeling of absolute crap that followed, that's probably understandable. However, I was assured that if I drank lots of water, and got the infusion over 30 minutes instead of 15, those infamous flu-like symptoms that are a commonly reported side effect would be a non-issue.

Friday was a long day at SCCA. I had a blood stick, but a good minute fishing around my innards trying to find some blood in there. Everything looked good in that cholesterol is perfect (a concern as some chemo drugs can elevate it); my white blood cell count is still a little low, which my oncologist assured me is normal as it's still in recovery mode.

I met with my oncologist and one of her residents. Her resident is very interested in me, since she is currently studying a vaccine for triple negative breast cancers. She asked if I'd be willing to donate some of my blood for her research. Heck yeah, I'm willing. I'll likely never benefit from this vaccine, but if my blood can help prevent other women from going through this hell, then I'm all for it!

My oncologist said that I looked great and was pleased with my radiation progress. We, again, (I claim chemo brain here...we'd discussed it before, but I needed to hear it again!) went over my care plan, which looks like this:
-Clinic visits every three months for two years, to include lab work and tumor markers
-Chest X-ray and CT annually for two years
-Pelvic Ultrasound (for my ovarian cancer risk) every six months until I have my ovaries out
-Zometa every six months for three years

I was surprised that this plan didn't include any PET/MRI scans. My oncologist feels like there's no need to expose my body to further radiation (thank you very much!) unless I'm symptomatic or my tumor markers are elevated. Studies have shown that the scans do not increase survival rates and just add to anxiety, which is definitely something I don't need.

I had my daily dose of radiation. I brought in a homemade, Tom Douglas-style Triple Coconut Cream Pie for my awesome radiation team. Needless to say, I won big points with that!

I finished the day up with Zometa (because nothing says Happy Friday like a good infusion, right?!) First things first: the infusion suites are FAR nicer than the infusion bay at Madigan where I did all my chemo. I had my own room, a bed, a nice recliner chair (that I'm sure Brian really would have appreciated!) and free access to all kinds of goodies. The infusion nurse was great, especially since she got my IV in on the very first try...HUGE bonus for her! The infusion itself was perfectly uneventful. Leah rested in the chair, Izzy slept, and we watched Ellen. We left, I felt fine, and had a great evening with my family.

Then came Saturday. I did not feel fine. I did not feel anywhere near fine. I felt worse than I did with any of my 18 rounds of chemo. I hurt from head to toe. I had a fever. I had chills. Apparently, I had significant weakness, since I passed out in my parents' hallway (glad I opted to stay with them over the weekend instead of by myself at home!) I honestly don't remember feeling so bad in my life. Sunday was a little better...still achy, but not so weak and feverish. Today is an improvement still. Leave it to me to experience the side effects that are "rarely reported"! Good thing I don't have to go back for six months, although I heard that each dose gets easier. We'll see.

When I downloaded the photo my sister took of me getting Zometa, I went back and looked at the photo of me getting my last round of chemo, and was absolutely amazed at the difference in my appearance. My hair is longer, my skin has color, and I actually have eyelashes!

April 2010

July 2010


  1. You look great! Glad you're feeling better!

  2. You look great! I hope you don't have to go through those side effects next time! That sounds awful!

  3. You look fantastic! Hope you're feeling even better today!