I shared that I had my first of a new treatment last Friday and then I’ve gone all radio silent on my blog and social media over the weekend. The first concerned text messages outside of my immediate family are starting to come in. So…How are you feeling? I figured it was time to share an update.
How am I feeling?
Not amazing, but I could feel worse. How’s that for an indecisive answer! I’m having pretty severe nausea and experienced vomiting for the first time from cancer treatment. Considering this is my third line of chemo since my original diagnosis in 2014, I actually feel kind of proud of myself for that!
Yes, these side effects are gross and unpleasant, but I’m not experiencing kidney pain or a ringing in my ears which can lead to permanent damage. These are also common side affects of my medication. Everything is relative. Relatively, I’ve felt like I had the flu the last few days, but I should be improving from here. That’s not the worst way to feel, given I have cancer I need to kill in my body.
I’ve been doing as much as I can to keep myself active and feeling well including yoga, small house projects, and baths with Lush Bath Bombs (made from all natural ingredients and *amazing*). There’s something to be said for the positive momentum that staying active creates for me. What I mean is if I push through my nasty feeling today and exercise/get in some activity, tomorrow I don’t feel quit as bad as I would have otherwise. Day by day, I’m getting back to my schedule. I anticipate I’ll feel well enough to get out of the house more tomorrow or Wednesday.
So what comes next?
Let me take a quick second to explain the larger context of this treatment in my cancer story. In early stage Breast Cancer treatments, they bring out the “big guns” and use a lot of severe treatments to try to put the individual into a long-term remission or “cure” state (These terms are also misused a ton, but I’ll save that for another blog post). This is the version of treatments I went through in 2014 at my initial diagnosis.
However, about 2 years later my cancer was back through no fault of my own and for reasons doctors do not understand and it had spread beyond the breast region. This is what is referred to as “Stage IV” or “Metastatic Breast Cancer”. There’s actually a few other things it’s called primarily in other countries, but they are synonyms for the most advanced form of Breast Cancer and the only stage that causes loss of life.
What happens is the cancer gets in your blood stream and starts traveling around the body planting itself and growing in additional locations. For Breast Cancer, this is usually in the bones, brain, liver, or lungs. For me personally, it is my bones. Once the cancer is out of the Breast Region, there is no cure for this disease, there are only treatments. For the detailed explanation, you’ll have to ask an oncologist ;). Eventually, when the cancer gets into a vital organ and grows to a point that stops its function – well, I think you can figure out what happens next. That is the metaphorical *game over*.
Unlike early stage Breast Cancer, the goal of my doctor and I is to use as little treatment/medicine to prevent *game over* from happening while maintaining my quality of life the best we can. Since last September, this new platinum-based medication is the third medication combination I’ve been on to try to get my cancer under control. In the next three weeks, I will get myself back up and enjoy life as much as possible before my next treatment. The current plan is to use the platinum-based medications to kill the existing cancer in my body and then transition to another medication that can maintain the cancer from growing and should have less severe side effects. Fingers crossed it works out as planned!
Odd that I’m writing all this as I look totally healthy? Believe me, I’m just as confused as you are. I’ve been managing cancer for about three years and had as much time to digest this information. This allows me to discuss these topics with composure, but it hasn’t been so long for me to forget what life was like before all this. Living well is the best revenge I can get!