Standing Up To Cancer: 20 – 70 Days Into Treatment
Cancer treatment is no joke. While everyone reacts differently to treatment, I find it therapeutic to share my experience on standing up to cancer!
Here’s an update on how I’m doing with radiation and chemotherapy treatments. My first blog post about it can be found here: http://tandyelisala.com/standing-up-to-cancer-nine-days-into-treatment/ My second post about it can be found here: http://tandyelisala.com/standing-up-to-cancer-20-days-into-treatment/
I haven’t blogged in several months. I didn’t bank on the toll cancer treatments would have on me. This is a consolidated article about where I stand and how I am recovering.
Challenges Standing up To Cancer: The bad
The nausea and vomiting got much worse after the 20 day mark. This was a consistent problem for me the rest of the way through active treatments. Here are some of the things we went through:
1. Dehydration and kidney problems due to constant vomiting. I was unable to keep anything via the feeding tube down and was still unable to take anything by mouth. It was quite a trick to get my medications in the feeding tube in a way that kept them down. Amanda had a concoction that seemed to work 2/3 of the time. This included: Diazepam 5 mg, Compazine 10 mg, Ranitidine/Zantac 15mg/ml, and pain medication generally taken about 20 minutes after Phenergan 25 mg or Zofran 8mg. I also applied Peppermint essential oils to my stomach and inhaled this a lot.
2. There was a point where I went 11 days without any nutrition. Not good. I also completely lost my voice.
3. I was hospitalized twice over a span of two and a half weeks. The first hospitalization was for 1 1/2 weeks. I was home for three days and back in the hospital for a week. In addition to the nausea and vomiting, I had a fever of 102, was extremely extremely weak and exhausted. I was diagnosed with pneumonia, anemia, and kidney failure. I had two blood transfusions, four different IV antibiotics, endless potassium, hydration and some magnesium and then some.
4. My radiation doctor and techs said we can skip some days and get back to radiation when I wasn’t so sick. I refused. I said no can do. We are plugging through this regardless and I promised to do my best not to throw up on the radiation table and equipment. I fulfilled my promise but it was close a few times. My last day of treatment, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I was actively throwing up as I was leaving and just knew I would feel better once I was in the car. Thankfully, my bestie Linda understood and didn’t seem to care that I was throwing up and getting into her car:-) All was well with the car!
5. My chemo doctor and nurses were really concerned and gave me two extra bags of hydration during chemo and we went there an extra day each week for hydration and nausea management.
6. I received multiple shots of Neupogen to increase my white blood cell (WBC) count so I could get chemo. We skipped chemo three weeks because my WBC, Red Blood Cell (RBC), platelets, Creatinine/kidney function and IGg and IGa counts were too low. My chemo doctor was very concerned about my immune system deficiency and infections.
7. My IGg and IGa levels were so low that my weekly Hizentra treatments for this went from 24 grams to 32 grams weekly.
8. August 2nd was my first good day in many, many months.It was the first day I didn’t throw up and/or have extreme nausea in months. My sister Felicity and cousin Judy visited for the weekend and I felt bad for feeling bad but that Sunday was a good day.
9. We’ve been to the ER for anemia and kidney issues and we work hard daily to get enough nutrition and hydration through the feeding tube. I felt bad for Amanda because it always seemed that she took me to the ER after a 12-hour shift at work (she works in the healthcare field for an urgent care) or on one of her only days off (and away from anything medical related). She always took it in stride and we learned to take a hospital bag in case I was admitted.
10. The outside of my face developed little bubble like sores and I have some acne but I’m taking care of my face to minimize these issues.
11. A few weeks ago, Steven took me to a doctor’s appointment and let’s just say that I could barely walk and felt like passing out worse than other times. By the time we got home I could barely get up three flights of stairs. Steven helped immensely but I seriously thought I was going to pass out and have a heart attack. Last weekend, Steven, Amanda and I were out and about and I was so proud of how well I did that day. It’s truly a day by day thing still. One day may be okay and another day I struggle getting from the couch to the kitchen or bedroom and back.
Here are the amazeballs WINS as I Stand Up To Cancer:
1. I can drink via mouth now… sometimes with pain but I can drink nevertheless. I don’t mean alcohol! I’ve never been so thankful to drink water.
2. I’ve released 57 pounds thus far and continue the weight release journey. I realize that I’ve lost some muscle as well as fat so I’ve got to work on gaining muscle back when I’m ready.
3. I’ve received great support from family and friends through cards, prayers, visits, facebook messages, text messages, and calls.
4. My voice is back. After months without a voice, it feels good to be able to talk again.
5. I got my hands on ‘Magic Mouthwash’. It’s a special prescription I got while in the hospital that contains lidocaine, antacid and allergy medication in one. For someone with head and neck cancer, this medicine should be mandatory. It works so wonderfully to help numb mouth pain. Also, as painful as it can be, maintaining good oral health is super important. The magic mouthwash helps a lot. I brush with baking soda and a non-fluoride toothpaste and then use this mouthwash.
6. I am experimenting with foods via the mouth. Most foods still hurt the mouth and cause pain but we are experimenting.
I’m still dealing with anemia, nausea, dehydration, and kidney issues. I have good days and bad days. I look forward to the day I can eat most foods again. My next cancer-related article will be where I’ll share the alternative healing modalities I’ve incorporated into my healing and the interesting things I’ve learned about cancer and the role so many things play with it. I want to share as much as I can with you whether you are going through cancer now, know someone who is, or want to avoid cancer.
If you or anyone you know is going through a difficult time, such as cancer, I invite you to get your FREE Daily Dose of Hope. Hope is the beginning of all healing. I wish I had this when I was going through cancer. Get your Daily Dose of Hope HERE.