I have had a rough few days where I have felt like I was drowning. I am finally up for air and I think I like it up here. I have always worked better when I had a plan in mind but this time around, the plan to start the chemo Taxol didn’t sit down well with me for some reason. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the side effects and the 2-hourly hospital stay every Friday for the next few months. I decided to hold off treatment for a few days and get to the point where I was more comfortable with the next course of treatment.
At the appointment on Thursday, my oncologist had two chemo options for me. One is the Taxol and the other is a drug called Xeloda. The Taxol was his first choice for a couple of reasons. One is linked to a clinical trial that is looking at patients with the BRCA2 mutation. In order to qualify for this trial, I should have had a chemo – preferably one in the Taxane family. His second reason is linked to the first in that the clinical trial would be focusing on the interaction of Xeloda with another drug.
I recall the first thing he asked me at the appointment on Thursday was the one side effect I would be looking to avoid for as long as possible. At the time, I said I was indifferent and just wanted to listen to the options available to me. After the appointment and for the next couple of days afterwards, I realized I wasn’t mentally prepared for the almost 100% chance of hair loss associated with Taxol. A huge part of this battle is mental but the interesting part is that the mental is closely linked with the physical. I can get all ‘dolled up’ and convince myself that I am a poster child for health. That is a bit hard to do if I stare at the mirror and a bald version of myself is staring back.
I know there is a chance I will lose my hair at some point but I don’t think that point is today. Especially in a situation where I have another option that could potentially offer the same benefit. The two main side effects from Xeloda are hand and foot syndrome and diarrhea. Neither of those are walks in the park but at this time, I will take my chances with this treatment and keep my fingers crossed for mild to no side effects.
My new friend ‘J’ has been more than helpful. She put me in touch with a friend of hers who is on Xeloda and experiencing great results. Our metastases are similar – bone and pleural effusion and Xeloda was effective enough that they have since removed her chest tube. J also encouraged me to speak to the oncologist about my concerns and went as far as giving me the email addresses I needed to facilitate the conversation. Thanks J, you’ve been of great help and I probably would have struggled a whole lot more with the decisions if not for all your help!
The other thing we want to give a try is a change in diet. There are a million suggestions out there on what diets have the most effect on cancer and to be honest, the information available is overwhelming and some of them are complete tosh! However, we’ve found a few consistent suggestions that I might be giving a try. Research is work in progress and I hope I have a plan in the next coming weeks. Shout out to B who is spending so much time researching, encouraging and even making some experimental dishes for me!
I know I have been a bit withdrawn in the days following my last appointment and I have shut off most of my loved ones in the process. It is a struggle to know the best way to deal with an upsetting news especially in the context of life and death as cancer can be. This journey filled with a lot of lows and unfortunately, I have to be selfish sometimes and deal with the situation the best way I know how to. In some cases, this could mean cutting out all communication and digging deep to find the strength I need from within to push on.
I will be picking up the prescription for the Xeloda in the next day or two and will be starting the treatment over the weekend. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed for a great response with minimal side effects. Wish me luck!