Saturday, February 04, 2017

5092 Almost finished with chemo.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

We get heavier as we get older because there is a lot 
more information in our heads.
So I'm just really intelligent and my head can't store 
all that information, so it has to be stored other places.
That's my story and I’m sticking to it.


Well, a major update.  I'm in the middle of my seventh round of chemotherapy, will start the eight and last on February 14th, and then on to the daily radiation.  I am tolerating the chemo so well that for the past two rounds we skipped the Neulasta (immune system stimulater) because I figured out that it was that shot that was causing me to feel so icky in week one of each round, and on every previous blood check my numbers were (to use the doctor's term) robust.  

Round five was interesting - I had an allergic reaction to one ingredient of the mix that resulted in itchy red hives all over my entire body.  Claritin quickly took care of that, so now I take one tiny Claritin every day.

They had told me that my hair would "thin" some, but I wouldn't go bald.  "Thin" turned out to be about 90% of my hair.  I have very little left on my head, and I'm pretty much bald in other interesting places.  The doctor was happy to hear that, actually, because he was beginning to worry that I was tolerating it TOO well.  I gave up on my hair and cut it to about two inches, and just slick it back with gel to cover the nearly bald spots.  Doesn't bother me at all.  I can tell it's trying to grow back, because there are short fine angel hairs that stick up here and there.

Yeah, the fatigue is building.  I don't want to go anywhere or do anything, but it's not so bad that I want to take naps.  Don't care to walk very far, for some reason my thighs rebel, so early in January I got a handicap parking placard, but that's when we started skipping the Neulasta, so I haven't had to use it yet.

There was a question as to why I was getting CMF, when there are newer treatments out there.  CMF has been around since at least the '90s.  It's OLD!  Well, when the oncologist told me he chose CMF because it wouldn't cause the side effects that the newer ones did, I got worried that I got CMF because of my age (frail little old lady that I am (NOT!)), and maybe he thought I couldn't handle anything more nasty, so I did some research.  There are clinical trials comparing CMF to other newer chemotherapies, and, in particular for what I have, triple negative breast cancer, it turns out that CMF works just as well as all the others, with fewer side effects.  Any differences in outcome were like 1% or less, which is negligible, really.

The biggest news is that Memorial Sloan Kettering has just in the past few months opened a cancer center only 7 miles from my home, an easy 13-minute drive.  The surgery and chemo was at a breast center a 40-minute drive away, which wasn't so terribly far when I'd make the trip two days in every three weeks (Daughter went with me only for the first cycle).  But daily?  For like seven weeks?  That's a trek.  So I'm looking into having the radiation (prone, must be prone) at Sloan Kettering.  We'll see.  I'll also be able to get second opinions there on other stuff, too, like the follow-on treatments.


Politics.  I've been freaking out just like most of the world, but funniest thing, it wasn't until yesterday that I realized, "This is REAL!  It's not a comedy skit that'll be over in a few weeks!  This is IT!  It's not a joke!"   Well, it is a joke, but it's no longer funny.   Chemo didn't nauseate me but what's happening in Washington does.  Bannon?  Cheney redux, but with less political savvy and fewer brains.

(Does anyone know what happened to the Hatch Act, a 1939 federal law holding executive branch employees must "maintain a federal workforce that is free from partisan political influence or coercion"?)

I sort of was for Bernie, but I knew he'd never get the nomination.  I think the DNC realized that as soon as he was nominated the RNC would be screaming "Socialism!  Communism!", and the exact same people who voted for Trump would fall for it.  Bernie might have got even more popular votes than Hillary, but the electoral college fallout would have been the same.  Same people, in the same states. 

The website is updating daily on promises made, and actions taken over the first 100 days.  It's an excellent source for what's going on, presented without commentary.   


Remember Matt and his dancing around the world?  At 0:14 in this video, Matt is dancing in Philadelphia, and if you look very quickly, you'll see a little girl in a striped dress on the left, directly in front of a guy in a grey-beige shirt, dancing up a storm.  That's my Nugget.  I don't know how Hercules (in the grey-beige shirt) knew Matt would be there, but, well, there they are.


This is Tom Scott.  He mostly does science-oriented videos from fascinating places around the world, and I'm subscribed to his channel on YouTube.  He posted this one after the election.  And his fears are justified.  All over the internet, a certain group of people have become nastier.  Much much nastier.  It's like they think they have been given PERMISSION to be ... well, nasty.   And the one person who could tell them to knock it off, is ignoring the problem.  I despair.


Several of the nurses have, after seeing the "age 72" on my records, remarked on my facial skin.  The left side of my face was torn up in a bicycle accident in my teens, and with age the scars are showing up now, finally, as a network of fine lines and pits.  The right side of my face is smooth.  I have the usual sagging along the jawline, but the nurses remark that "You have no wrinkles!"  

They'll ask if I moisturize, and I say no.  I'd hate to tell them why I think I have few wrinkles.

This is terrible to admit.  I rarely wash my face.  I don't wear makeup like foundation or blush, so it's not like I have to wash that off at night.  In a bath or shower I often forget my face - it gets washed as a side effect of washing my hair.  So, I guess, rather than moisturizing, I just don't wash the oil out.

I also won't exfoliate.  Jay had a theory that it was very bad to exfoliate, because your skin all over your body is naturally protected by a thin layer of dead skin cells, and if you remove that layer, the top layer of live cells die to reform the protective layer, and then the skin has to regenerate new cells to maintain skin thickness.  Cells generate by division, and any cell can split only so many times (look up "telomeres") and when it reaches that limit, the cell dies.  Exfoliation causes early cell death, so your facial skin will thin and age faster.  

Chemotherapy has affected my skin.  It seems to be thinner and saggier all over my body, probably because chemo will prevent regeneration (a good thing, I guess, as far as tumors go).  I've obviously lost some fat under my skin, even though I've lost only 2 or 3 pounds over the past seven months.  I'm hoping it will all go back to normal after this is over.


Well, I hope to be better about posting.  I will try, anyway.  


the queen said...

I'm glad to hear the update. I vow to stop washing my face.

Becs said...

I don't generally wash my face, either. If it's feeling icky, I'll swipe a damp, warm wash cloth over it.

Lisa :-] said...

Welcome back! Good to hear you've been tolerating the chemo well. I was worried.

rockygrace said...

Good to see you!