Looks like my goal of posting frequently and regularly has gone unfulfilled again and despite my promises and intentions to do better, I’ve fallen into a pattern of posting once or twice a month. So this will be a catch-up post.
I finished the eight cycles of Folfox plus Avastin October 3rd. I feel fortunate that the side effects were not as severe or debilitating as I’d feared. Probably the worst side effect, other than the occasional fatigue, was the drop in my white blood cell count, which delayed treatment a few times and made it necessary for me to get Neupogen shots to stimulate my bone marrow to produce more white cells -- nineteen shots in all. One of the possible common side effects listed was deep bone pain. I had the bone pain after the first shot but was able to prevent it by taking a Tylenol before getting the next 18 shots- it worked! At one point my white cell count went from 3,100cmm to 36,200cmm after 3 shots; germs didn't stand a chance of surviving that week. But they went way down again after chemo. It was a real roller coaster!
I don’t want to paint too rosy a picture- the chemo was not all smiles and sunshine; there were quite a few days when I did feel the side effects. And given the high temperatures we had here this summer, the desire for something cold to drink got really overwhelming at times. But the oncology nurses warned me that drinking anything cold while on Oxaliplatin could be painful, so I drank and ate everything at room temperature or hotter. Except for the one time I forgot and took a swig of water straight from the fridge. Oh MY!! It felt as though I was swallowing shards of glass! I didn’t try THAT again! And it did get to be an aggravation towards the end of the regimen when, in order to avoid the pain of neuropathy, I had to wear gloves while reaching into the fridge or freezer or shopping the frozen food aisles at the grocery store.
Anyway, I survived- and didn’t even lose much hair. It thinned but stayed on my head for the most part. In fact, everyone I run into who knows I’ve been on chemo says how good I look, which is a little worrisome because folks never went out of their way to tell me how good I looked before all this started ;-)
The oncologist set me up for another CT scan to see how effective the chemo had been. The results came in a couple of weeks ago. They show that the rectal tumor and the liver tumor have both shrunk, but the surgeon suggested that rather than schedule surgery right away we try to shrink or eliminate the rectal tumor using radiation therapy and shrink the liver tumor some more with chemo, then consider ablation, so I met again with the medical oncologist last week and will meet with the radiology oncologist this week to get that ball rolling. Not looking forward to having a sunburn where the sun don’t shine nor am I overjoyed at wearing the portable infusion pump five or more days a week, but you do what you have to do. And so it goes.