The day arrived = my last chemo infusion! Woo hoo!
I had an early appointment yesterday, all the easier to ensure that there were fewer delays and I could get done with a minimal delay. It turned out to be a fantastically good move, since the infusion room got mobbed around 12:30, when I had about an hour left with the needle in my arm. They'll be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving, so maybe that has something to do with it.
I was so early on the schedule that I was actually a little worried the doctor would come in before I had a chance to put on my little surprise:
I was debating what I would say (i.e. "you didn't warn me about this side effect!"), but words weren't necessary. She lost it as soon as she saw me. And told me I had to wear it into the infusion room. Which I did. The nurses loved it. Hey, if I gave them all something fun to talk about, all the better.
Oh, and the doc also mentioned that one of her other patients actually started growing a little bit of a mustache after the chemo shut down her ovaries. The poor woman: lost the hair she WANTED to have, got the hair no woman wants!
Anyway, the medical news: the doctor was pretty happy with my numbers. She told me that it looked as if I could skip the Neulasta she was recommending during my last checkup. We'll see what next week brings in terms of white cell counts, but so far, so good. Apparently I'm still exceeding expectations in terms of side effects and the fact that none of my treatments has had to be delayed.
I'm confident that some of my preemptive moves -- heavy water consumption and 3x daily saltwater mouth rinses, for example -- played a role in how I've been faring. And I guess that being relatively young (for breast cancer, at least) and reasonably healthy hasn't hurt either. I do wonder if I've been washing the chemo out of my system too quickly for it to have an effect, but as the doc has told me before, my numbers have proven that the meds are having an effect on my system.
All that said, I have to get through the fatigue and ickiness of the next couple of days, the low immunity next week and then the full recovery. I'm starting to ask about the longer-term recovery stuff -- like when my hormones will get back into gear and I go through puberty again (oh, joy). Not to get all technical and stuff, but right now my body is acting as if I'm nine years old. Not sure if the Neulasta had anything to do with this, but I noticed that I was getting PMS zits last week, so maybe things are waking up again. The doc tells me that it could be as long as a year before my reproductive system gets back to normal. Right about then, I should be starting on Tamoxifen, which should toss me into menopause.
Next couple of weeks, I'll hopefully be getting set up to talk with a radiation oncologist to determine what the length of the radiation treatment course will be. I suspect that just given the way these docs work, plus the intervening holidays, I won't get started until January. Which means this stuff gets done sometime in late February. Aside from the Herceptin treatments, which have me going back to the infusion room once every three weeks until August.
But, at least the folks tell me that radiation is generally well tolerated. Given the early stage of the tumor, I'm hoping they can just target that immediate area and cut down on the skin damage that comes with the treatment.