Thursday, October 21, 2010

Round 3 Update

The good news first:

As of today, I am officially past the halfway point in my chemo treatment. I did a little happy dance this morning and ate some brownies to celebrate.

Things have been going reasonably well. The first round of chemo was pretty tough, I won't lie. The hardest part was probably the fear of the unknown, both of what the primary treatment would do to me, and also of how the secondary medications (the long list of prescriptions they gave me to help with the side effects) would affect me. I was basically a giant chemistry experiment for about 11 days. I got dehydrated, could not eat, and went in two times for additional IV fluids (one of which was at the ER when the mix of insomnia/dehydration/anti-nausea/anti-biotics/steroids caused me to go a little crazy). The oncologist and I agreed to stop all secondary medications, and the remaining 10 days of that cycle got progressively better.

For the second round, I was prescribed different anti-nausea medications which I decided to not take unless absolutely necessary. I was very relieved to find that my body was able to handle the chemo just fine on its own! I had a few days of (TMI ALERT!!) constipation followed by a few days of mild diarrhea, and I needed a little extra rest for the first half of the cycle, but otherwise I didn't have any of the short term negative side effects.

The long term side effects are still present. I lost my hair on day 14 of round 1, but I have to admit that was not traumatic for me at all. I have enjoyed not having to wash/dry/brush it (I didn't style/color/curl it to begin with), the only down side is that it is like wearing a sign that screams "I'M SICK!" I am thankful that I haven't lost my eyebrows or lashes yet. I don't wear make-up, so I was going to look a little odd without them. I have not had any changes in my nails, skin, or mouth. I can feel a little difference in my heart, and a big difference in my energy level. I have also been experiencing "chemo brain," which is hard to describe but makes me feel like my brain has turned to mush -- calling things the wrong name, taking an extra couple of seconds to answer memory recall type questions, forgetting things that I would normally have no trouble remembering. As a homeschooling mom, this has been hard. Luckily, my boys were already used to me calling them the wrong name.

The emotional side effects are a little harder to quantify. I joke that this has been harder emotionally on my mom than it has been on me, but I do have my moments. There is a lot of guilt. Since this blog is public, that is all I really feel comfortable sharing at this point.

Despite all of that, the second round went MUCH, much better. I felt well enough to have friends over, to go on a family hike, and to go with my son on his class field trip.

The third round has been a repeat of the second, and in fact the transition from "not feeling so great" to "feeling better" happened within an hour of when it did during round two. My blood cell counts have been rebounding nicely, I have been staying on top of my hydration, and I am optimistic about the last 3 treatments.

The great news next:

I bet you were expecting bad news next, but today I am only sharing good news and great news. :)

The great news is that the chemo is definitely working! I had an appointment earlier today with the breast cancer doctor, and she confirmed that the tumor is considerably smaller. When she measured on the ultrasound today, both measurements were a THIRD of what they were in July. Her exact words were that I am "having phenomenal results" that are what she hoped she would see at this point. Not EXPECTED to see, but HOPED to see. And believe me when I say that this doctor says exactly what she means and does not sugar coat, ha ha! She also used the word "amazing" when she could not feel any lumps in my lymph nodes (which the oncologist could also not feel at my last exam).

I meet with her again in early January to plan my surgery, something she and I currently do not see eye to eye on. In the mean time I am going to speak with as many women as possible who have had surgery for breast cancer, both with and without reconstruction.

I am very bad about sending thank you notes (shamefully so!!), but I do want to take a minute and thank those who have brightened my day with a card, kept my head warm with a lovingly made hat, and brought over food for us. Your kindness has helped keep my spirits up and reminded me of how much I am loved. Thank you to everyone who is praying for my family, who is sending kind thoughts our way, and who is sharing my story with other women who think they are too young for breast cancer -- please continue to do so!


  1. Thank you so much for posting. The good news is so so good. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers! Love, Kate (Butler) Cupps

  2. What a great report Colleen! I have been reading your blog and praying for you. How great to read such good news at this half way point.

  3. Thank you for the update. Prayers continue for you and your family. I am SO excited about the great news!! That really excites me and is brightening my morning!

  4. YAY FOR YOU! You are the awesome. :)

  5. OMG Colleen---great news! I hope each day will grow a little brighter.