Today was a busy day up at Stanford. I had an oncology appointment, chemo infusion, and then a workshop on make-up (sponsored by Look good feel better). I’ll talk about the first two here, and the latter in a separate blog post.
The good news from the oncology appointment is that the thing my oncologist felt in the right breast last time isn’t there anymore. So now, both of my breasts feel like ‘normal healthy breasts’ rather than breasts with tumors in them. This doesn’t mean that all the cancer is gone (they cannot tell that until they remove the breasts and do pathology on the breast tissue), but it does mean that the chemo has significantly reduced the size and texture of the tumors. In short, the chemo is working.
We decided to reduce the amount of steroid I’m taking. My oncologist thinks that several of the side effects (including the chemo brain) are worse or caused by the change in levels of steroid in my system – so the side effects happen when the steroid wears off. If there is less steroid to begin with, then the change will be less and therefore the side effect less. It is an interesting argument (and not at all intuitive). So now I’m taking less of the steroid and taking it in pill form rather than IV (it means the infusion actually takes longer as I need to wait 30-minutes after the premeds, which I didn’t when all the premeds were IV). I think it is actually the same dose of steroid that I took for the first three rounds of AC, and I tolerated that very well. I’m crossing my fingers that this makes the chemo brain fogginess go away.
My oncologist also looked at the neuropathy (and did some tests). So far it is pretty minor, but it is starting to effect my balance. I need to start being more careful about biking, but I am still OK. I don’t think it is bad enough to stop biking with my current bikes yet. If it gets worse and for post-surgery, I’m looking into borrowing a recumbent trike, so I don’t need to worry about balance issues, but also the trike format with underseat steering is easier to get into and out of and doesn’t require me to put any weight on my arms for riding post-surgery. If the neuropathy gets too bad, then we stop the chemo and move onto surgery. I don’t really want to go that route, as it would ruin all the plans I have in place for my visit to Canada for American Thanksgiving and Hawaii for my pre-surgery memorial celebration.
On the infusion front, things were pretty routine. We’ve pretty much got things down now – and today there were no delays in the ITA (infusion treatment area), so things moved along pretty quickly. Since this regime doesn’t make me sick, I can actually get some reading / writing done while in the ITA – although we often have visitors which also provide a great distraction and helps the time to pass quickly.
So far, I’m hopeful for a stronger cycle – so much so that when I got home today I went for a swim. I’m not as strong as I was at the end of the third round of AC, but that’ll take time to come back. I swam 800m, which is a good start :-). Over the next few weeks I’ll also need to concentrate on doing longer walks – in preparation for our hikes in Yosemite for our anniversary and Mount Tam on October 11 (friendly reminder – you can sponsor us on the links below – every little bit counts – consider donating $7-one dollar for each mile hiked, $12-one dollar for T-Chemo treatment, or $20-one dollar for each week in chemo, or if you really want to sponsor us, you can buy a prayer flag for $100). Thanks.
To support Scott’s hike: http://prevention.breastcancerfund.org/goto/scottd
To support Becky’s hike: http://prevention.breastcancerfund.org/goto/rhogue