Tuesday I completed my sixth round of chemo. Though I still get pretty rattled before every session, I am getting better. For sure, session six was way better than session five, which marked the midpoint of my chemo treatments. As with many breast cancer patients on similar regimens, at session five, they switched me from the colorful Adriamycin and Cytoxan cocktail to Taxol. I guess they think after four rounds, it’s time to jolt your poor body again. Just when a person begins to figure out one regimen, they totally mess with your system again.

As much as I despised watching the “red devil” (Adriamycin) being slowly injected into my system with its intrusively bright, cherry-red color, at least I had figured out how my body reacted to it after four treatments. Starting Taxol, once again I felt vulnerable, not knowing what to expect.

My chemo nurse for session five was Kathryn, a young, tall brunette. “I have to give you a test infusion first to be sure you are not allergic to the Taxol,” she explained. “Actually it’s not the Taxol that causes the allergic reaction, but the solution it’s mixed with,” she went on to clarify, as if it made any difference.

During the test infusion, Dear Hubby sat next to me looking worried. We both sat there wondering if I would be one of the unlucky ones to be allergic. After all, my luck hasn’t been that good lately. Unimaginable worst case scenarios streamed through my mind and probably through his too.

Would I break out in a horrible rash? (I have been experiencing pretty intense flushing, after all). Would I become nauseous or lightheaded? Would I be unable to breathe, have irregular heart palpitations or worse, heart failure?

I wasn’t allergic to the test, and the actual dosage to be administered over three hours began. I sat and read my new book about a family living with a history of ovarian cancer. Yeah, I know. Why do I want to read about cancer if I am living it, but for whatever reason I do.

I sat and wondered again how I got to this place, sitting in a chemo room. I couldn’t believe I was getting Taxol. Just like Mother. I tried not to think about that. I tried not to remember. I kept reading and thinking. Reading and thinking. Finally, the reading won out as the story pulled me in. Periodically, I glanced up and noticed other patients leaving, but still I sat. Taxol must be given at a slow pace. Finally, our time was up, I was unhooked and Dear Hubby and I walked out the door “on our own power” as he likes to jokingly (sort of) remind me, both of us breathing a sigh of relief again.

Session six was considerably less stressful, although just as lengthy. However, I couldn’t help myself from wondering if anyone ever had an allergic reaction during the second infusion. No one appeared too worried about that possibility, so I guess it doesn’t happen that often.

At least this week, I am more prepared for the achiness in my legs, the tingling in my fingers and toes, the sleepless nights, unexpected tears and moodiness that will surely come. Thinking about all of this also makes me realize how miraculously my body seems to adjust to the unknown as it unfolds.

I am resilient, and for this, I am grateful.

When has your body proven its resiliency? (cancer related or not)

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17 thoughts to “Resiliency”

  1. Nancy–glad to hear the sixth session went better. I hope you are doing well. I was one of those folks allergic to Taxol–and so they switched me to Taxotere. I finished treatment July 14, 2009. So far so good. I wish the same for you! (And resilient is an excellent word to describe what you must be in this whole process.)

  2. I noticed how you said your body seems to adjust to the unknown. It’s impressive what our bodies are able to adapt to. I’ve noticed how my body has no issue with me running/walking up to 80 miles per week. Instead, my body thinks this kind of abuse is normal. I don’t lose any weight, I don’t have to eat a freakish amount of food, and I don’t get sore or tired.

  3. Nancy, Your blog is sooo good. Lindsay did such a good job setting it up. You are such an inspiration to us all. I’m so glad you are down to your last two treatments. Love, LaVonne

  4. Nancy, I love reading your words, they bring many thoughts to mind. Resiliency, I have never associated with cancer, but,of course it is. My brother-in-law was not always resilient to the drugs he was given. Thankfully there were others available. We are praying for you, Nancy!

    1. Lenise,
      Thanks for your prayers. I haven’t been feeling quite so resilient the last couple of days, but I know that I will again soon. I think about your sister and her husband often and wonder how they got through such an ordeal.

  5. Hi Nancy, I’m David’s cousin. I live in Walker, MN with my husband, Dale, and son,Colin. Our daughter, Stacy, lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

    First of all, I have to say that your writing is beautiful. I know that sounds funny, when you are writing about such a dreaded disease, but your explanation of what is happening to you is so clear, and you do not ask for pity, only understanding.

    My mother had breast cancer, but they found it soon enough so a mastectomy solved the problem. She did not have to go through chemo. She was so strong and determined to get on with her life, and it sounds as if you are also.

    Your father was one of my favorite teachers in Madelia! Please say ‘hi’ to him.

    Know that I will be praying for you and David. I will check back often to see how you are doing.

  6. Dear Nancy

    Thank you, once again, for taking the time – when you are going through the rigours of chemo – to leave encouraging words on my blog.

    I was struck by your comment that ‘I sat and wondered once again how I got to this place, sitting in a chemo room.’ While it seems that I won’t have to go down the chemo route, I identified so strongly with that sense of the almost surreal; I imagine that all of us who are on this journey will recognise the feeling.

    You asked about resilience and for me it has been during the ultrasound core biopsy and, back in the ultrasound room again, for the pre-surgery wire insertion and the radioisotope injection. The latter is a shallow but painful injection and all these procedures felt intensely invasive; they are the only procedures that have eventually reduced me to tears and, after the radioisotope injection, sobbing and cradled in a nurse’s arms. But that is precisely when the resilience kicked in. Deep yoga breathing and making room for mindfulness helped. And within minutes, I was back in the waiting room, knitting, talking to my daughter and smiling with relief. By comparison, the prospect of the imminent surgery worried me not one jot as I was going to be out of it for the duration!

    I’m not sure how the resilience flows in, or from where, but it does and, like you, I am grateful for it.

    Strong, healing wishes to you, Nancy, from the heart of the English countryside.

    1. Dear 60 going on 16,
      Thanks for returning to my blog, it encourages me to keep going, like maybe I do have things to say that matter! Sounds like your biopsy was more painful than mine – I’m writing about mine soon. So happy to hear you do not need chemo! I’m not sure where that resiliency comes from either, but Im glad it’s there in us somewhere. I will visit your blog soon to read more about your experiences. Take care.

  7. Nancy–
    Hi there. My mom told me that you had set up a blog, so thought I would check in. Your blog is beautiful. I think of you so very often and wonder what you must be going through. I am glad to hear that you have only a couple of treatments left. It sounds like you are sure strong through this journey and I admire you for that. I will check back here often and know that I’m praying for you. —Shelley

  8. You know, Nancy, the last half, with taxol, was actually harder for me to endure than the first half. The leg pain was very difficult for me. It had all come as a shock to me because I’d been told that the last half of chemo was the easier part. But you endure it, because there is no choice, and every day is one day closer to the last chemo. That’s my only suggestion. Take it one day at a time.

    1. Debby, You are right about taking it one day at a time, even though it sounds so cliche. I thought the Taxol part would be easier too, but have found that not to be the case. Glad you are doing well. Thanks for checking out my blog and for commenting!

  9. Nancy – Sounds like my course of treatment was similar to yours. With my 2nd round of Taxol, I did have a reaction about 10 min after starting the chemo …felt like someone was sitting on my chest and sucking all the air out of my lungs. The oncology nurses sprang into action. The taxol was stopped and I was given a something to counteract the reaction. About an hour later, we tried the taxol again with a lower dosage and I was monitored closely. Had several taxol treatments afterwards with no reaction.

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