Thursday, August 4, 2011

Constipation, Perspiration, Menstruation, and Inspiration (got it, got it, need it, can't get enough of it)


Current Medication
Zofran (anti-nausea) - causes constipation (and anxiety)
Decadron (anti-nausea) - causes constipation (and anxiety)
Emend (anti-nausea) - causes constipation (and anxiety)
Stemetil (anti-nausea) - caused severe anxiety in me, normal side effect is drowsiness (I stopped taking it after treatment #2)
Gravol (anti-nausea) - causes constipation
Colace (stool softener) - to counteract the anti-nausea side effects (has caused diarrhea in many cases - it's a fine line)
Senokot (laxative) - to counteract the anti-nausea side effects (again, it has caused diarrhea in many cases)
Ativan (anti-anxiety) - to counteract the anxiety caused by the anti-nausea drugs, causes drowsiness
Tecta (anti-heartburn) - to counteract the effects of all of the prescriptions on my stomach
Percocet (pain killer) - to counteract the bone pain caused by treatments #4-6
Neulasta (injection to increase white blood cell production) - causes bone pain
Vitamin D, Iron, Glucosamine (I don't have enough Vit D, I'm iron deficient, and the glucosamine is for my arthritis)

So, I think it's clear that my bowels are confused. I have tried to master the art of stopping the Colace and Senokot before the diarrhea starts and the constipation ends. I have yet to find the right calculation. Is this too much to be discussing in a blog? Is this something that I should be keeping to myself or maybe just between me and my mom? Hey, if I can survive losing a breast, I think you can survive listening to my bowel movement stories.

I realize that too much diarrhea can be a bad thing and wind me up in the hospital however, constipation can do the same thing. My oncologist told me that you need to keep your bowels moving because otherwise they can get blocked and an infection can start. It just seems to be a bit more of a balancing act than I thought it was going to be. After a while, you start treating the side effects of drugs rather than treating the initial problems.

So far, with treatment #4 (it was on Friday), I don't feel too bad. The nausea seems to be totally under control, I am however, exhausted; 2 naps a day for the last 5 days. The bone pain seems to be controllable but is increasing with every day. So far, I prefer the bone pain over the nausea.

I try to give Keith as much credit as I can for being such an incredible man and my number one fan but I do have to admit, after all the times that I have had to wear a gas mask to bed due to his meal choices, it does feel some what good to have the shoe on the other foot. I love you Keith, but watching you cringe during my days of Colace and Senokot makes chemo just a little easier.


There's nothing like going through the change of life, in your 20s, in the middle of summer. The sweating is constant. I mean, no stopping it, uncontrollable, 20 minute, embarrassingly long sweat sessions. I don't have a lot to say about it other than, I won't miss the hot flashes when they're gone.


Who would have thought that I would actually miss my period?

I've never had a normal period. I would say that I would have an average of 5 periods a year. After diagnosis and before chemo, Keith and I went in to discuss fertility treatments and I found out that I had PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). This syndrome means that I have more follicles on my ovaries (60) than the average woman (24).

I was told about 8 months ago, prior to any cancer talk, that there was a chance that I had PCOS but I would have had to take a blood test and go off the pill for 3 months, both of which I wanted to avoid. The ultrasound of my ovaries in May confirmed a diagnosis. The diagnosis ended up being a positive thing in the end because the more follicles I have, the better our chance of having a baby post-treatment. Like our fertility doctor said, 'If anyone can go through chemo and have a healthy family after, it's you".

Needless to say, I haven't had a period since before surgery in March. I knew that chemo could kick me into early menopause and I knew it would probably stop my period but you have to wonder, are you still a woman when at 26, you have one breast, no hair, and you are no longer menstruating? It's funny how much we complain about simple things like frizzy hair, and sagging boobs, and periods and then one day they are literally all taken away from you. I know the days of frizzy hair will return as will my complaints but sometimes I pinch myself wondering if I am actually facing this disease we call 'cancer'.


I've been told by a variety of friends and family that I am 'an inspiration' because of my approach to cancer and its treatment. Personally, I don't feel like I am doing anything that any of you wouldn't do. I am going to my doctor's appointments, getting all of my stupid chemo, and not shutting up about having cancer. Prior to my diagnosis, I never thought I would be able to handle cancer and on top of that be positive while I'm doing it, but when you surround yourself with positive people, it's amazing what you can accomplish and how your approach to life can change. As I have said before, it's ironic that it took cancer to make me realize how lucky I am.

If anything, for someone who craves attention, having a blog and having articles written about me is kind of enjoyable. I wish the articles were about finding a cure for cancer rather than being diagnosed with it but I will take what I can get. I will shut up about having breast cancer once this disease is the top story on the news every night and to be honest, since March, it has astonished me that it isn't. Like another woman from 'I Am Not My Breast Cancer" says, "I'll be grateful when the solution to the disease isn't to chop off a body part and then systemically poison and burn women". I couldn't agree more!

I've certainly had some good inspirational teachers along the way. Growing up, I have been surrounded by women whose lives have been personally effected by cancer who have taught me a lesson or two about what it means to be an inspiration. First I want to thank Brenda J., you taught me that being diagnosed with cancer doesn't mean being diagnosed with a death sentence. From the beginning, you decided to deal with cancer head on, and not long after that, I was faced with a similar situation. Thanks to your approach, I continue to come out on top. I would like to thank my Aunt Sandra who gracefully lost her battle to pancreatic cancer. She taught me so much about life and laughter and she deserves so much of the praise that I receive because she is a contributing factor to the woman I have become. My Aunt Gloria is quite the woman, I think in her case, it was the first time cancer had been killed with kindness. To Barb H., although we didn't get to know each other very well and you were taken much too young, you have not only taught me about self advocacy and strength, but you have raised one hell of a daughter who has been one of my biggest supporters; thank you! Finally, I would like to thank Sherry A. who's positivity is infectious and who's determination is beyond admirable. What she does on a daily basis helps women cope with and beat cancer. Thank you, ladies!
Do you know how many people, women especially, that I have met who have kicked as much ass as I have but just haven't expressed it (either verbally or in written form) for others to see? You don't have a choice when it comes to being diagnosed with cancer, but you do have a choice when it comes to how you are going to deal with it. I could be miserable and sad for 6 months while I go through one of the hardest times of my life OR crack a smile at least once a day, have some laughs, shed some tears when necessary and allow others a glimpse into a life with cancer.

36 days until chemo graduation day!

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