At the end of the day yesterday after my two reactions to my first Doxil® infusion, my oncologist’s nurse came to see me at the infusion center and to update me on what was next. Obviously, my oncologist was taking me off the Doxil and changing me to another chemo, which, as it turns out, would be eribulin (Halavan®). She does not want to wait to start me on it, so the schedule is Monday and then eight days forward to Monday with another infusion as the regimen calls for an infusion on days 1 and 8 of a 21-day cycle. Between the two infusions I will be administering Neupogen® to boost my white blood cell count, which Halaven is known to affect adversely.
When I had my primary treatment in 2004, I took Leukine® to boost my white blood cells. I had a strange reaction to that medication, which took a while for my oncology team to decipher. Apparently a rare side effect was a fever, something no one had really seen previously. When I would start my Leukine shots, the fever would come shortly after and remain for the week, requiring me to sit on the sofa with a thermometer in my mouth for hourly checks to keep it down. It should shoot up into the precarious zone if I did not prevent that from happening. I had so many nights that it should shoot up, and Marvin and I would work hard to get it back down to avoid a trip to the emergency room. They always recommended that I go even though I would explain we knew what the fever was from; they said you cannot depend on the cause always being the same, so we would try to deal with it. One night was especially frightening when it spiked, and we could not get it down. It was the last time I argued with Marvin about what we should do in such cases. I have learned slowly that my own judgment can be occasionally flawed, a fact I reluctantly admit. I have noticed that Neupogen seems to reign in popularity for boosting white blood cell counts during cancer treatment. Neulasta might be less popular because it is a lot more expensive.
Despite the adventures yesterday I seem to be doing well today, recovering from the exhaustion caused by the reactions. This boosts my hope that I have some oomph to counteract the ill effects of both the cancer and the treatment. How ironic I think it is that the treatment for this disease is so severe. When I originally had chemo during my primary treatment, I remember seeing the warning label on the Adriamyacin® (doxurubicin) of the AC&T dose dense regimen that I started in August 2004, that noted it should never touch the skin. Yet, that solution was transporting through our veins to treat the cancer. How amazing that our bodies can endure so much, and I remind myself of that every time I feel lousy from treatment. Our bodies are miracles that we often forget possess amazing abilities; during cancer treatment when we endure poisons to kill the cancer, and also our healthy cells, it is remarkable that we bounce back with the other blessed healthy part of us.
Although I have come to dislike the battle metaphors, I must admit that they seem appropriate at times like this when launching a new attack on advancing cancer. I also feel a great need to try to become stronger so that I can deal with the general state of being that comes with a new chemo. For Xeloda®, the two worst side effects were the hand-foot syndrome and the fatigue. Other than that, it was not too bad. I wish it had worked longer for me.
So tomorrow I will relax and try to restore myself in preparation for Monday’s treatment. I have been thinking about a young man I met just before my treatment yesterday who is in for a sarcoma on his lower spine. He was a sweetheart, and we talked in the cubicle we shared before I moved to another. I can’t help but think about what pain he was enduring and hope that he is more comfortable today after receiving some attention from his oncology team yesterday. Bless you, Travis.
To all of my online support and peanut gallery, I thank you again and again for cheering me up and encouraging me during all of these potentially discouraging moments. I hang on your words, your hugs, your love. You are all a very cherished part of my life. Love and hugs to all of you.5 6 7 8 © 2004–12 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.