Sept 18th “Test For Chemo”
Today my oncologist scheduled lab work and echo cardiogram on me to make sure my body could handle chemo. I was worried my heart would have an issue with the chemo but thank God all the tests showed that I was in good shape and I could proceed with my treatment plan. Finally some tests came back with good news.
Sept 19th “Lymph Node Test”
My oncologist wanted me to have my lymph nodes tested and wondered why they hadn’t been tested before. She wanted to be 100 percent sure they were clear.
So at 8am I headed to my surgeon and had the biopsy done – two lymph nodes that are closest to my lump in my breast. My surgeon thought bringing me in for a biopsy on my lymph nodes was a little overkill since the ultrasound showed they looked okay on the original ultrasounds. I will say my surgeon did a great job on doing the biopsy, I barely felt it. Not like the previous ones I already had. Those hurt. I was able to get home for a few minutes and then was off to have my port put in at the hospital closer to my house. For those who don’t know, the port enables them to give me chemo without having to go through my veins. Poking and prodding of the veins could cause them to collapse, so the port is and was advised. They install the port under your skin in your chest area and use this to run the chemo through.
The surgery took about an hour and went well. They didn’t have to put me all the way under which I was grateful for! I talked to the nurses and doctor during the whole surgery. They asked me tons of questions about the music industry. It did help the time pass.
I didn’t feel too bad after the port procedure, but I could not understand how people go right into a chemo treatment the same day as having their port put in.
That night and for the next week, I was so uncomfortable and sore in my chest area from the biopsy on one side and port placement on the other side. I regret doing both the same day. Needless to say, I didn’t get any sleep that night nor did I for the several days that followed. Well let’s be honest. I really have not slept at all since I was told I had breast cancer.
Sept 20th “Full Treatment Plan”
Met with oncologist this morning to go over my full treatment plan. She said if all goes well, I would do 6 treatments of 4 kinds of chemo, 1 treatment every 3 weeks. Believing that the chemo will destroy all of my cancer cells and reduce the tumor to a much smaller size, when those 6 treatments are done and everything goes as planned, I would then have a lumpectomy with radiation, and after surgery I would have to take the Herceptin Chemo for the rest of the year and take an estrogen blocker for 5-10 years.
Sept 21st “Lymph Node Positive”
Met with my new general practitioner today and she gave me some meds to help me with my anxiety to try to help me sleep at night. I hadn’t really slept at all since the day of my diagnosis. Later that afternoon my surgeon called to tell me that he was shocked to see the results of my lymph node biopsy, but it showed positive. Though he said it was very microscopic in both lymph nodes that he tested, it was still very upsetting to me. All my life when I’ve been told someone had cancer, the next question was “has it spread to the lymph nodes?” so this was very upsetting to me.
He said my treatment would not change and that I was “still stage 2”. That did make me feel a little better that he said it was microscopic and my treatment plan would not change. This gave me hope to think maybe it was only in those two lymph nodes. This news also made me feel better about the decision I made about not going the clinical trial route. So, my oncologist made the right call to have them biopsied.
Sept 25th “Day Before Chemo”
Pre chemo day. Steroids are part of the treatment. I was told I do them the day before, day of and day after my chemo treatments. I took 2 in the morning, 2 in the evening. I was very anxious about the big day the next day, didn’t know what to expect but also felt better knowing I was about to start the healing process.
Sept 26th “First Chemo Treatment”
So today is the big day. Woke up and had breakfast, eggs and muffin, coffee. Took my Nexium. Got to the doctors office at 9:45am. I was there for almost an hour before the treatment. They took my vitals, did blood work and put the drip line in my port. I took a chemo buddy with me (they are great to have). We both cried with emotion when they put in the drip line. Going thru this meant this is not a nightmare, this was my reality. This was happening. They took me back into the infusion room and I took the corner recliner so my friend could sit with me. They hooked up an IV line into my port with saline to make sure I got fluids while I got my chemo treatments. They also gave me steroids. A friend of mine who just went through breast cancer advised me to chew on ice or a Popsicle the entire time I received the chemo to prevent mouth sores which are a huge side effect of chemo. I did that and I didn’t get one mouth sore!
First they gave me the Docetaxel Chemo that destroys all cells, good and bad. That first dose took over an hour. They started out on a slow drip to see how my body would react. They slightly increased it because I was doing ok. Next up they started the Carboplatin Chemo…also attacks all cells good and bad. That was an hour also.
Then they flushed out my port and gave me the Perjeta. Perjeta is part of the targeted chemo treatment for the HER2positive part of my cancer. Again, an hour. Then they flushed my port again and gave me the Herceptin, this is also a targeted chemo for the HER2 cancer cells. After 7 hours, we left the hospital at 4:45pm. They told me the first chemo treatment would be the longest chemo day of the 6 that I would need.
I was really hungry so we went to have Mexican food which looking back on it going to any restaurant was probably not the smartest thing to do right after chemo. Really eating out isn’t a good idea at anytime while undergoing chemo treatment. You are susceptible to germs and you can’t be sure or too careful about food safety. Too many chances of getting sick in public and by who’s preparing your food. Because chemo attacks all of your cells, your immune system is basically shot.
I started taking Ondansetron (Zofran®) to prevent feeling nauseous. Though I didn’t feel nauseous at all, my stomach started to cramp later in the evening causing major digestive problems throughout the night, so unfortunately I spent a lot of time in the restroom. I knew this was a major side effect from all of the chemo, so I expected this to happen. I didn’t have any other side effects and was grateful that I only had this one…..so far.
Sept 27th “Chemo Is A Breeze, Wrong”
I took my steroids in the morning and felt great! I even thought “geez, chemo is a breeze”. I mowed 6 acres, went shopping, came home, cooked and cleaned the house. I felt great! I guess I didn’t really realize it was the steroid working and what was about to come would not be good at all. That night I started having stomach issues again but not as bad as the first night. The following days it got worse and worse to the point of drinking one drop of water or eating one bite of anything, I would have to use the restroom. I was taking meds to help with this side effect, but it didn’t seem to be working. This continued to get worse over the next few days.
Sept 28th – Oct 1st
My chemo buddy had to leave town for the weekend so another dear friend came to stay with me for a couple days so I wouldn’t be alone. I felt somewhat ok during the day and even ran a couple of errands but later that evening my stomach issues came back.
I’ve pretty much been in 3 places over these last 5 days, other than the day after chemo. The couch, my bed or the restroom. You are supposed to drink a ton of water after chemo to flush it out of your system. I was drinking as much as I could but I guess it still wasn’t enough.
Food and liquids have started to taste bad. Everything seems to have a very strong metallic taste and water seemed to exacerbate the problem. I wasn’t aware that this was a major side effect so it caught me completely off guard. I’ve since learned that the majority of people taking chemo have the same problem with chemo. This is a big problem because your doctor wants you to eat healthy and not lose weight but I felt like I couldn’t drink another drop of water or eat anything. I was so full of water, and the fact that it tasted horrible didn’t lead me to want more. I became very dehydrated and I felt as if I was losing weight, and my doctor told me I couldn’t afford to lose any weight and to make sure I ate a lot! My friend had to leave on Saturday morning so another friend came to stay with me. A couple other friends popped over and brought me soup and drinks, but I just didn’t feel like eating anything. Friends are just simply the best and thank God they tried. I ate just a little soup and a half a slice of pizza and that was about all I could do.
Over the weekend I called the doctor each day to explain how I was feeling. She said to try to drink as much as possible and to take Imodium for my stomach issues. I did my best but doing these things didn’t seem to help. I was feeling pretty bad.
Oct 2nd “Hospital, Scary time”
I got up and felt really weak. My friend took me in to to see my oncologist so they could give me fluids. My Doctor told me that she didn’t think I would be able to continue to do any shows that involved traveling as long as I was doing chemo because of how it affected me. Flying and being around a lot of people would most likely be dangerous for me with how I handled this round of chemo. They gave me 1 bag of fluid and wanted me to come back the next two days for more fluids. 1 bag at a time. The rest of the day I didn’t do much but rest and lay on the couch. Still having stomach issues. That evening before I went to bed I thought I should check my temperature even though I didn’t feel like I had a fever. It showed I had a fever of 101. I checked it several times and then called the doctor. She said to get to the hospital asap. So my friend helped me pack a bag and off to the hospital we went.
While sitting in the hospital emergency room another friend came in who was there to see her friend who had been in a bad car accident. We didn’t talk long before they called me back into a room. They took me back in a wheelchair, which I’ve never had to do before. They took blood and started an IV. A few minutes later the doctor came back in and said he spoke with my doctor and they decided I needed to be admitted so they could put me on an antibiotic right away because my white blood cell count dropped to .9! During chemo your white blood cell count does drop because chemo kills all of your cells, the good and the cancer cells. Usually between 7-10 days you hit your lowest count. This is called Nadir. I had already reached Nadir somewhere between the 4th through the 6th day after chemo so they said I reached it too soon and that my white cell count dropped too much. I don’t believe dropping to .9 is very common. I hit the stage of Neutropenia, which is dangerous. I basically had no white blood cells to fight off any illness and my blood pressure had dropped to 90/52 which is very low. They told me I really shouldn’t have any visitors or to limit who came to see me for fear of me catching a germ. This was very scary to me. I’ve never been sick with anything to have to be in the hospital so all of this was new to me. I was in the hospital years ago for 2.5 days when I was recording my first record due to a broken finger, but I wasn’t sick. I was lucky to find out that one of the doctors that works in my oncologist’s office was the one on call for this hospital this week, so she would be the one to check on me daily and report back to my oncologist daily.
Oct 3rd “Hospital Stay”
These next two days I don’t remember much because I slept a lot. After not sleeping at all for the past month, I guess the drugs and being sick forced me to finally sleep. I know eating was hard because food tasted so bad. Sprite was the only thing that tasted normal and you really shouldn’t have sugar if you have cancer, but I had to drink something besides water. On Tuesday they gave me a shot of Neulasta in my stomach to help get my white blood count up. They gave me another shot the following day on Wednesday.
I was just so tired and slept most of the time. I don’t even remember having the TV on I was so out of it.
Oct 4th “Hospital Stay”
Have pretty much stayed sleeping. Around 3pm a nurse came in and woke me up to give me some meds. I asked her what was I taking and she said it was time for my muscle relaxer. I replied “What? Why am I taking that? I’m the one that asked my doctor for a muscle relaxer to take only if I needed it at night time to help me sleep”. The nurse said “well honey you’ve been getting one of these every 4 hours since you’ve been in here”. I was like what?!!! No wonder why I had been so tired and out of it. Not wanting to get out of bed when the doctor and nurses kept telling me to get up and walk around. I just couldn’t do it. I thought I was too sick because I felt so out of it. I could barely get myself up to use the restroom. To walk around didn’t seem like an option for me. I remembered my friend telling me that when she picked up my medicine from the pharmacy they told her that one of those muscle relaxers would put me out for the night and into the next day. Here I was getting it every 4 hours! No wonder I felt so out of it. I told the nurse I didn’t want it and to take it off my chart! She called the attending hospital doctor and the doctor apologized and said she didn’t realize I had been the one who asked my doctor for it. In general, the bottle would say take every 4 hours.
A little later my friend came by to see me and I managed to take a shower and take a walk outside and sit in the sun with her for a few minutes but I got tired pretty quick and had to go back to my room.
Oct 5th “Release Day”
Around 9am the hospital doctor came in and checked my temperature and vitals and said if I stayed well throughout the day I would get to go home at 5pm. She said my white blood count was up to 2,900 so that was looking good. Just to be clear, a normal healthy person’s white cell count is anywhere between 6,000 – 11,000. Remember, mine was .9 when I came into the hospital.
Thank God I got to go home around 5:30pm.
I felt a little weak, I think mostly from just laying in bed so much while I was in the hospital. Looking at my bathroom counter made me sad to see all the medications I have. I’ve never been a person to take a lot of meds anyway. I don’t get sick very often, not even headaches, so to see all of these pills is upsetting to me.
They are mainly pills for the stomach issues, nausea, acid reflux, steroids, zanax. You have to walk a fine line with the stomach pills… one can cause constipation and the others can make you use the restroom too much, if you know what I mean. Even throughout my hospital stay, I’m so thankful I didn’t have all of the side effects that some people get. They’ve come a long way with helping side effects. I remember my uncles having cancer and going through chemo. They would throw up for a few days in a row plus all the other side effects.
Oct 7th “Hair”
I noticed today that my hair was starting to fall out. Little strands if I pulled it. I decided to not wash it for a while thinking it would make it stay in a little longer. It was upsetting but my hair will grow back. What it told me was, “If it’s making my hair fall out it must be killing the cancer cells!” Trying to stay positive.
On Saturday I felt good enough to go to the lake for a couple days to boat and relax with my friend/main caretaker. The boat, the water is my favorite place to be! Food tasted horrible and still having bathroom issues so I thought “well at least the view of the water will be nice”. My stomach issues weren’t near as bad as the first week but still having issues. It was nice to just be on the water and see something different than just the inside my house or doctors office.
Oct 8th – 9th
I pretty much just took it easy and enjoyed being near the water just relaxing. Still have stomach issues and food tasted horrible. Today I started having to blow my nose a lot. I hope and pray I’m not getting sick!
We headed back home on Monday.
Oct 10th “Pet Scan”
My oncologist ordered a pet scan for me today. I thought it was odd to have one so soon, but I think it was because I had gotten so sick after my first chemo treatment. I think my doctor wanted to make sure nothing else was wrong. So I got up at 6am to get ready and fight the traffic into Nashville to get there by 8am for my appointment. I didn’t have to wait too long until they called me back. The person doing my pet scan explained to me how it worked. They put a type of dye into your vein that is based on radio active material with glucose (sugar water) attached to it. When they put you thru the pet scan, the dye goes to any area where there is cancer cells because cancer cells really draw the dye to them causing the pet scan to light up those areas. I am NOT a doctor and all of my Doctors will say that sugar doesn’t cause cancer but they will say sugar feeds all cells. So if it feeds all cells, it definitely feeds cancer cells and this pet scan proves that right? If they use “sugar water” to cause the cancer to light up?
Again, I’m not a doctor but we are basically told that everyone has cancer cells inside them just waiting to expose themselves. What we put in our body’s can cause those cancer cells to come out. I really believe that my cancer was caused because I had been on hormone replacement pills for many years. All of my doctors say that the hormone replacement pills did not cause my cancer but that it definitely fueled the fire…??? So does sugar fuel the fire as well?
As I started going in the big round open tube, again I couldn’t believe that this was really happening. That I was now the one going through cancer and having to have this test done and was it all because I took the hormone replacement pills? I had done the Brca test and that came back negative. The DNA test showed it was not hereditary. The Brca test is the test that Angelina Jolie did and brought it to everyone’s attention.
Today I announced through social media that I had breast cancer and the kind I have. Many people commented, messaged me, texted or called and said what a brave thing to do. Announcing that I have breast cancer isn’t about being brave or anything else other than I just want to do something that might help someone else or give them some inspiration. I really feel like most woman are just not educated enough in this subject. A lot of celebrities announce they have breast cancer, but they don’t usually announce what kind they have or the treatment they are doing. I wanted to do a blog and write as much as I could about my type of breast cancer in hopes to help someone else or to at least bring awareness to women to please educate themselves on how many different kinds of breast cancer there are and the treatments for them. I, like many women, had to have a crash course on it and I would advise all women to research the different kinds now so you aren’t so overwhelmed with it if you happen to get breast cancer. Remember 1 in every 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. That’s way too many! What are we doing wrong these day? Is it the hormones they are putting in our meats and dairy? All of my doctors told me I have the most common breast cancer, Hormonal…too much estrogen and progesterone. My only difference is that I’m HER2 positive which is a smaller group to fall in. Being triple positive use to be hard to fight until they discovered Herceptin and Perjeta chemo that targets that part of my cancer. The other two chemo’s I take, Carboplatin and Docetaxel attack the estrogen/progesterone part of my cancer.
That evening I went to see a holistic doctor. She advised some natural plant based items to take along with my chemo. She also believes that my cancer was brought on by me taking the hormone replacement pills. Ladies, if you take hormone replacement pills, PLEASE ask your doctors to check your estrogen levels every 3 or 6 months. The only time my previous doctors checked my levels was if I asked them too.
After I had been on the pills for 6 years I started asking my doctors if I should stop. They all said no, that I needed the estrogen that we would address the issue when I turned 50 -52. I started having menopause symptoms at early age and at the time I agreed that I should be on the hormone pills because most woman don’t go thru this at such an early age. My doctor at the time told me that sometimes stress can bring on early “fake” menopause and that my body could all of a sudden go out of menopause in the future. I had been under a lot of stress during this time. She informed me that’s how many women end up getting pregnant in their early 50’s because they thought they were through menopause but they actually weren’t! So, I feel like maybe my menopause could’ve been a temporary thing and my body started producing it’s own estrogen again and I was still taking the hormone pills not knowing. Remember to ask for your estrogen levels to be tested often if you are taking hormone pills. I feel this is important.
I woke up and drank my glass of water with lemon oil in it. I’ve tried to do this every morning. A Nutritionist said it cleanses your liver if you do this in the mornings. Last night was the first night I didn’t have to get up with stomach problems.
A friend and I decided to go back to the lake for the weekend. I love boating and it relaxes me. Just being by the water relaxes me.
We pulled in the driveway of where we were staying and my Doctor’s Nurse called and said “I have great news, the pet scan shows your cancer has not spread anywhere else”! This was wonderful news. I had been really really worried about it since I found out cancer was in two of my lymph nodes. I cried I was so happy. I started texting friends and family the great news. After we unloaded the car we decided to go celebrate at a bbq place in town. We had never been there but heard it was great bbq. I hadn’t had bbq in a very long time, so this sounded great and I was very hungry! When we got there I ordered smoked bbq chicken, baked beans, corn bread, salad and a potato. I couldn’t wait for them to bring it out I was so hungry. When I took my first bite I had to spit it out because it tasted so bad. Nothing tasted good. Not because of the restaurant, it was because the chemo was still affecting my food this many days later. All I could taste was a burnt metal taste. I really only ate a little bit of my potato and corn bread. It was very upsetting. The next night some friends came over for dinner. My friend with me made a great dinner, again I was looking forward to eating, but again I was let down by the awful metal taste in my mouth. I did force myself to eat it though because I have to have food. I’m going in for my 2nd chemo round soon and I needed to eat well to build up my system.
The next day Saturday we boated for a little while with some friends and then had to come home.
Oct 15th “Show Day”
Yes, I said show day. Today my friend Ty Herndon is playing a show in Atlanta and he asked me if I could go play with him, so I did. My doctor told me that I probably wouldn’t be able to travel by plane anywhere for work but if I could drive it that would be safer. Since this was only a 4 hour drive from Nashville, I decided to do it. Of course I wouldn’t be able to do any kind of meet and greet or shake anyone’s hand for fear of getting sick.
I’ve waited all week to wash my hair in hopes to still have some left for the show today. While in the shower I noticed it coming out in my hands, I looked down to the shower floor and it was all over the floor. I started to cry seeing the amount that was coming out and that yes..I was going to go bald. I finished my shower and tried to blow dry what was left of my hair. It was coming out in the brush a lot even though I was trying to be gentle with the brush.
I decided to just let it go curly and wear a hat. At least I had enough hair to still see it below the hat. A friend rode to Atlanta with me in case anything went wrong. I basically got there in time for soundcheck, changed my clothes and then played the show and literally got back in the car and drove back to Nashville.
It felt so good to actually play a show and to think of something else in my world other than cancer! I felt “normal” or went back to the days of “pre-cancer”.
My friend and I were both hungry so we stopped at Cracker Barrel to eat. I ordered chicken n dumplings, corn, green beans, broccoli, cornbread and a salad. FINALLY I could taste something! Everything tasted the way it was suppose to. I was so excited and my friend was laughing at me because I was eating it all so fast. I was 4 days away from my 2nd chemo treatment and food finally tasted normal.
I was very tired on the drive back but once again when I went to bed my eyes were wide open. I even took a muscle relaxer and that didn’t help me sleep.
So far my side effects have been, stomach issues with diarrhea, white blood count dropping too fast, fever, being tired but not sleeping. To know that the chemo is doing this to me…what keeps me positive is these are the only things I’m feeling from the chemo but the chemo is killing my cancer! If I have to go thru this all over again on this 2nd chemo treatment, then I’ll have to go through it but know that this is the second round of chemo killing the cancer!
Oct 16th – 17th “Nutrition”
I have felt pretty good these last couple of days now that food started tasting good.
From what I discovered about food is this:
A couple days after chemo my food started tasting bad with a metal taste. Certain foods I could taste. Raisin Bran, Fruit Loops (lol), bananas, pickles, tomatoes, milk, things with sugar in them, Sprite and chocolate seemed to help just a tiny bit with the metal taste. Just random things but the things that I should be eating like protein, greens, beans, salads just don’t taste good. I’m allergic to beef/pork/lamb/milk because I was bit by the Lonestar tick about 7 years ago and that carries a new allergy called Alpha-Gal. I almost died from it after I had a hamburger 3 weeks after the tick bite. I was actually in rehearsals with my friend/entertainer Terri Clark when I ate the burger and got so sick. They had to call an ambulance and take me to the hospital. They did every test on me trying to figure out what was wrong. Over 4 hours and they couldn’t find what was wrong but they never did an allergy test. My symptoms were: Major stomach pain, felt like my insides were being ripped out, I broke out in a rash and couldn’t stop scratching and my skin was really red. I really thought I was dying because so many different things were going wrong. After being released from the hospital I notice for several months I would get sick every time I had beef but I didn’t get nearly as sick as I did the first time. Finally my doctor sent me to an allergist and she knew right away what I had because she had already been studying this new disease and already treating 8 other patients for the same thing. She informed me that I was one of the first 500 people in the United States to get this…lucky me! And that our area that I lived in seemed to have an issue with it because I live in the country and there’s lots of trees and tall grass. Now, the allergy goes all the way from Texas up into Canada and has become quite popular. The Lonestar tick has the white dot on the back of it so if you get one on you please be careful….you might want to go get tested for Alpha-Gal before you eat any meat!!
Ok back on the cancer…I brought up the Alpha-Gal because since I’ve had that, I can only eat chicken, turkey or fish. NO beef or pork at all! I eat a lot of chicken, but since my first chemo, chicken has not tasted good at all!! We did some research and realized that chemo pretty much affects everyone’s taste. We did not know this. A friend of mine bought me a book that’s called “Cooking For Chemo Patients” They recommend some good meals and encourage cooking with lots of strong herbs and curry dishes. This booked has helped. I had one dish that was a chicken curry and I could actually taste it and not taste metal. I highly suggest getting these kinds of books. During chemo you should eat very good nutritional meals to keep your immune system in good shape. But…if nothing tastes good…you need to eat something…it’s ok if you have to have a piece of cake or something, just don’t eat the whole cake! Wine also tasted bad so I’ve really not had any alcohol, which is ok because I don’t drink that much any way and should stay away from the sugar also. Water tastes the most metallic, which is bad because you are suppose to drink a lot of water while on chemo to flush it out of your system. So I will rotate between water, orange juice and sprite or ginger ale.
My nutritionist also told me to only eat fresh caught pacific caught fish like salmon. So I’m limited to my meats. So far every time I’ve had breaded chicken cutlets (which I’ve always loved) and pasta, it’s tasted awful. Like burnt metal. So anything fried seems to taste bad. I’ve also learned to wait until my meal has gotten a little colder. Hot food seems to bring out the metal taste as well.
I’ve also been told by other cancer patients while we were doing our treatments together that certain foods they always loved, they didn’t like anymore. But all books and research says once you have completed all your chemo treatments, your taste goes back to how it was before you started chemo, so this is good news thank God!
Oct 18th “Day Before 2nd Chemo Treatment”
I woke up and took my steroids. I take them the day before chemo, chemo day and the day after. I took my other vitamins and had an egg, bread, coffee and orange juice. I pretty much stayed home and cleaned the house. Some very dear friends cooked some great chicken enchiladas and brought them over for me and my friend to eat with them. So very nice and it tasted so good because my taste has gotten better, of course just in time for my next treatment. It was great to have company and eat with friends. I’m still blowing my nose a lot. I was told it was a side effect.
Oct 19th “2nd Chemo Treatment”
Woke up and had my vitamins, ate eggs on a bagel, coffee and orange juice.
Took a shower and headed off with my caretaker for my 2nd chemo treatment. Not looking forward to it because of how sick I got on my first treatment but hoping the side effects won’t be as bad this time. My doctor told me the first chemo treatment is a huge dose and that my next treatments would be 20% less from this point on.
My cousin in MI who is as close to me as any sister could sent me this blanket to help keep me warm during my treatments. Again I chewed ice the whole time to prevent mouth sores.
I got to the doctors office at 11:00am but didn’t get brought back until after 11:30am. They have to check your vitals, weight, temp and take blood to make sure your body is up for receiving the chemo. While waiting on my blood count to come back to make sure my white blood cells were up I met with my oncologist and she went over my pet scan with me. She told me great news that my white blood cell count was over 11,000 which was great and that my platelets hadn’t dropped at all from my last treatment. She also said that all of my organs were 100%. Then she told me that my original tumor size from my MRI before I had chemo was the size of 2.8 and that 14 days after my first chemo treatment the Pet Scan showed the size had reduced to 1.9!!!! This tells me that the chemo and the prayers are working!! I was very happy about this and my doctor seemed shocked that it had dropped in size that much so fast.
I remember telling my friend that it felt like the tumor had gotten smaller the morning before I had the pet scan.
Before getting my 2nd treatment this morning I felt it again and told her that I could barely feel the tumor this morning. So….it may have even gotten smaller since my pet scan! We asked my doctor since my pet scan showed the cancer had not spread, couldn’t we just go in for surgery now since we knew exactly where the cancer was and stop chemo. She said no because what has proven to heal my type of breast cancer was the full 6 chemo treatments, then surgery. She is thinking that the tumor will be completely gone by the time surgery happens. She also said that Pet Scans do not show up microscopic cancer cells so the fact that it showed up in two of my lymph nodes when they were biopsied before that she did not feel comfortable at all in changing my treatment plan. So I went on back to the infusion room to get my 4 chemo’s. This time it took 4 hours for the chemo not 7 thank God. My caretaker stayed with me and then went and picked me up a tuna sandwich for a late lunch. I chewed on ice the entire time again to prevent mouth sores. When I finished my chemo they put the Neulasta patch on and said it would release itself 24 hours later. They attached to the back of my arm. The Neulasta shot helps boost my white blood cell count. Dr. is doing everything she can to keep me from going back into the hospital this time. I was afraid to sleep thinking I would knock it off but it managed to stay on through the night. I still did not sleep. I’m going to have to start taking something to help me sleep. I really have not slept since I was diagnosed with this cancer.
Oct 20th “Day After 2nd Chemo, Hair”
I got up and took my steroids and the rest of my pills.
I didn’t sleep again. Too many racing thoughts and my brain just will not turn off.
Tho I didn’t sleep, it was not because of any side effects thank God. So far so good and no stomach issues. I have to drink tons of water and liquids over the next few days to flush the chemo out of my system. It’s very hard to drink this much I’ll be honest. I mowed the lawn and ran a few errands. My hair is coming out really bad so I decided it was time to cut it off. It’s just too emotional to see if continually falling out and seeing it lay in the shower floor so I cut it short. I’m sure I will have to have it shaved in the next coming weeks but..hair will grow back. Again, if the chemo is killing my hair the hopes are it’s killing my cancer!!!!
Some incredible friends decided to cook an awesome chicken curry dish and brought it over to have dinner with us. It was great to have the company and the food was so good. Thank God my taste buds are still working. I’m sure that metal taste from chemo will probably come back in the next couple days and food will taste bad again.
My Neulasta patch started to release exactly 27 hours after the nurse put in on me like the instructions said it would. I pray it works and my blood count won’t drop so much so fast this time! The Neulasta shots and patches are very expensive!!! I didn’t know this. If you ever need this make sure your health insurance approves it. They should, and fight them on it if they don’t because if your blood cells drop too much too fast like mine did, you have to have this or you could die.
I went to bed and took my evening pills and my holistic meds as well.
Watched a TV series in bed hoping it would help me fall asleep. I was really tired but because of all the water and liquids I’ve had to drink throughout the day, I was up probably 10 times to use the bathroom. Have to get some plan that works for me to sleep. This has been going on since I got diagnosed.
After I ate my breakfast I was feeling pretty good and decided to paint my kitchen cabinets, ha ha. I’ve hated them for years and I guess it took getting cancer to finally paint them. Had small stomach issues but nothing too bad. Just prayed a lot that I wouldn’t end up back in the hospital and that the Neulasta patch was working!
I started having chest pains in the evening but nothing like I had felt before. It was like bone pain in my sternum. Bone pain is a side effect of the Neulasta. Perfect. Side effects from chemo, now side effects from the Neulasta patch. Ugh!
I got up and did some cleaning because I had some friends coming in to see me for a few days. They arrived around 2pm. Felt pretty good and even went out to dinner with them. Still having some bone pain in my chest area.
Didn’t sleep well and starting to wonder just how many nights a person can go without sleep? It’s been almost two months of literally sleeping only minutes throughout the night. My stomach issue is just there enough to keep me awake also. I will say this time around my stomach issue is different. I’m not spending as much time in the bathroom but my stomach aches with a deep hunger pain though I’m eating. It’s worse when I go to bed at night. Lying down seems to make it worse. I can eat a full meal and 15 minutes later the strong hunger pain starts again and it’s constant. It’s like my stomach always feels empty as if I hadn’t eaten in a week.
My doctor scheduled me to come in to get fluids today to help hydrate me to make sure I wouldn’t end up back in the hospital again. My friend that was in town for the visit Roddy went with me as my chemo buddy this time. They took my vitals and things before I went back for the fluids. It took 2.5 hours just for the fluid.
I was craving pizza and a salad so a friend brought it home to us. I also had her get me some chicken fried rice just in case I couldn’t eat the pizza. Thank God she got the rice because I took one bite of the pizza and had to spit it out. I have not been able to have any red sauce since my first chemo treatment. No pizza, no pasta. A tomato tastes normal to me, but I can’t have tomato sauce! I was able to eat the rice and lo-mein.
The Nurse also told me today to start taking the Gabapentin meds my doctor ordered for me. She said it’s really for numbness but it does help you sleep once you get it in your system after a few days. At this point I will try anything to sleep so I started taking it. It helps with all of the nerves in your body. She explained that it even helps to calm your thinking down because it’s calming your nerves.
Didn’t feel so good today. Just very tired, some stomach issue and some bone pain. Pretty sure yesterday or today is probably the day my white cell count dropped because I just didn’t feel so well and had no energy.
My doctor wanted me to come in and get my white blood count checked. It was at 6,000 so she said that was good and felt that I was now out of the worry zone. She told me I could go to a concert that night that I wanted to attend. It was Kenny Rogers’ farewell show “All In For The Gambler”. I was excited because I really had not been getting out of the house much at all in fear of getting a germ. She told me to go to the concert and have fun so I did and I’m glad I did. I’ve always loved Kenny. It was a long concert and I got tired but I had to stay until the end because Dolly Parton
was coming out to sing with him and I had to hear “Islands In The Stream” live one more time.
Still not sleeping and I’ve been taking the Gabapentin. Today I spent most of the day on the couch. I guess I over did it last night at the concert. Really had no energy and my stomach pain seemed to be a little worse.
Oct 27th – Oct 30th
Today we decided to meet some friends at the lake for the weekend. They could help me get my boat out of the water. With everything going on I haven’t had time to get it out of the water nor have I felt like it, but if I didn’t get it out the motor could freeze and bust because our temperature was going to drop to freezing.
We had a great weekend. I still didn’t feel so great and food still tasted bad but it was great to be around friends.
So far I have not had a temperature and my blood pressure has been fine. I’m doing much better than the first chemo round thank God!
My friends had these bracelet’s made for me and gave them to me. Pretty sweet and cool!
Oct 31st “Halloween”
Sleeping just a little bit better now but still not the greatest. Maybe the Gabapentin medicine is actually helping me sleep a little like the nurse said it would. The side effects from Chemo still keep me up at night. My feet have started to hurt. I’m told that your body can react differently with the side effects from each chemo treatment, so I’m chalking this up to bone pain side effects.
Today was really the first day that I felt almost normal. I had little side effects today. I ran a lot of errands trying to play catch up. I tried to go through my bills, all of my hospital bills, but it’s just overwhelming. Two months in and I can’t even keep up with all the hospital bills.
Decided to go to one of my favorite restaurants, “The Yellow Porch”. I really only go to this place once a year and it was upsetting because my meal still tasted like metal. It’s so odd how some foods taste normal and other foods taste horrible. Eggs, bacon, cereal, milk, tomato’s, pickles, sweets taste normal but sandwiches, dinner meals still taste bad.
Today I went to my surgeon’s office for blood work. He is doing a new blood study that’s separate from my treatment. Blood work isn’t normally done with breast cancer because it typically has not shown up in blood tests, but this new study he is doing has actually shown up in another patient. This new study is good to have because, if for some reason it shows up in my blood, he will contact my oncologist and change my treatment plan. It’s another way they can keep my cancer in check.
I stopped by to see a friend’s new deli she is opening up in Nashville called Sassafras Market. I came home and cleaned a little. I get tired pretty easy, so again I spent the rest of the evening on the couch. I have never been one to sit on the couch for hours and watch tv. This ….is very hard for me. I’m usually always doing something. It’s hard when you want to do so many things but you just don’t have the energy for it. Lying around is definitely new for me.
Nov 2nd – 6th
Food still tastes bad and this is very frustrating because 4 days before I had my 2nd treatment, I could taste all food again. So far that is not the case this time around. I have my next chemo treatment 3 days from now on Nov. 9. I’m now beginning to think that this metal taste is going to be an every day thing now until I’m completely done with my chemo treatments. Ugh!!!!
Nov 7th “Opry at the Ryman”
Today I felt close to normal other than food still not tasting right. Two days away from my 3rd chemo and food still tastes metallic. This is upsetting. At least the last chemo round I had 4 days of food tasting right before my 2nd chemo treatment. Not this time.
A great thing about today was I played the Grand Ole Opry tonight with one of my best friends, Terri Clark. We did a couple songs and then Pam Tillis and Suzy Bogguss came out and sang a song with us and that was so fun! It was really great to play the Opry as always…It’s my favorite place to ever play! Wanna say thanks to Terri for asking me to play! Got my mind back on being an artist/musician and not a cancer patient. Thanks, TC!
Nov 8th “Day Before 3rd Chemo Treatment”
Woke up and took my steroids this morning. I take two in the morning and two at night on the day before chemo, chemo day and the day after. Met with my oncologist for blood work to make sure my cell count and my organs are healthy enough for chemo tomorrow. Of course things are not perfect because I’ve already had 2 chemo treatments and they affect everything in your body but she said for what I’ve already been through, everything looked good to continue the treatment.
She said my red blood count was a little lower than it should be and that I was now anemic. She said three weeks between chemo treatments just isn’t really enough time for red blood cells to increase back to normal.
Regarding food, today is the first day that food tastes normal again. I had fried chicken, mashed potato’s and green beans! For dinner I’m having chicken pot pie in the crock pot! Tomorrow, the bad taste will start all over again. Bummer.
Nov 9th “Third Chemo Day”
Got up and got prepared to do chemo today. Not looking forward to this.
Got there at 9:30am and had to wait until around 11:30am to go back to the infusion room for my treatment. It was a busy day there. Once they actually started the treatment it went by faster than the last times. I had a turkey burger and french fries while I was doing chemo. I don’t really like to eat in there but I can’t go all day without food. I was finished by 3:30pm. They put the Neulasta patch on me again to boost my white blood cells. It will go off 27 hours after the patch was put on. The doctor told me that my blood work showed that my liver enzymes were elevated and that I should’t drink any alcohol or take any pain killers like Tylenol, Aleve or Advil for a while. I got home and was really tired. I had Chicken soup for dinner. I can taste food today thank God. I just stayed on the couch until dinner. I worked on hospital bills and then got so tired I had to go to bed early because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I didn’t have any serious stomach issues so far which was shocking because that’s always been a major side effect right after chemo.
Nov 10th “Day After Chemo”
Wow I actually slept until 3am without waking up. That’s the longest I have slept since I found out I had cancer. I did have a hard time falling back to sleep though. I think I fell a sleep around 5am and slept a couple more hours. I got up and took my acid reflux meds, zofran and my steroids. I ate eggs and bacon for breakfast.
I worked on bills and hospital bills till around 2:30pm. I had some left over chicken soup, then I rested for little bit and then continued to paint cabinets that I started last month. It’s a project. I paint a little then take a break. The day after Chemo I always have more energy because I’m on steroids for the 3 days during the chemo. For dinner I actually had pasta with red sauce, broccoli and Caesar salad. I have not been able to eat any red sauce or broccoli since my first chemo treatment because the chemo has made them taste so metallic. It was nice to actually have it today! I may only have my taste back for a couple days so I have to eat my favorite foods at this time. Have had minimal stomach issues today. After dinner I got tired and am going to go to bed early again tonight and pray there’s no stomach issues. My Neulasta patch went off around 7pm so hopefully my white blood count won’t drop too much.
Didn’t sleep well. I was hoping that pattern had changed. What I’ve learned from Chemo is that no treatment is the same. Random side effects can just happen. One minute you feel fine and make plans to do something and then all of a sudden you start feeling bad again. Low energy is one big side effect. There are many times that I get energy and have a list of things to do and really think I’ll get them done. By the time I get every thing ready that I need to start my energy gets zapped.
I did some paper work today and some bills and cleaned a little.
A friend of mine was having a 50th Birthday Party that I really wanted to go to…another friend was having friends over for a bonfire that I really wanted to go as well…but…I had to stay at home. The first week after Chemo you have to be careful where you go and who you are around because your immune system is jeopardized.
I know this is temporary but I’m really getting cabin fever! I get out a little but not much. There is really only a few days just before chemo that I feel ok and even then I still have some stomach issues.
Woke up this morning and cleaned the house a bit. A friend of mine owns a lawn business, so she and some friends came over to get the leaves up out of the yard. WOW, just can’t thank them enough. That is something I wouldn’t have been able to do this year. Too many trees in my yard. They spent about 3 hours mowing and blowing them. When you get sick…you really do find out who your friends and family are. Who will really be there to help you. I am so thankful for having such great friends who have really been there for me. My heart breaks when I go into the infusion room for treatments and see others that are going thru chemo pretty much alone. I just don’t know how they do it. If you ever know anyone that has to go thru chemo, offer to be a chemo buddy and take them to their treatments. Sit with them during the treatment if you can or get them lunch. I had no idea how long Chemo treatments take each session. Mine now take 4-6 hours depending on how busy the infusion room is. I’ve had some friends that had to sit for 9 hours each time to receive their chemo.
Again, the things you learn when you are the one with cancer.
My friends finished the yard and we ordered a bunch of food for lunch. It was so nice to have the company! I ate chicken wings and ….yes a meatball sub!!!! I haven’t had a meatball sub since I got the Alpha-Gal allergy from the Lonestar tick bite I got about 7 years ago. Since Chemo kills all your cells, I had been wondering if I would be able to eat red meat again, so I tried it. I had a 6-inch meatball sub and did not have any allergy side effects. This made me very happy! I’m not saying that I can sit down and eat any red meat I want but…this as a good sign! I never really ate a lot of red meat but come on…there really isn’t anything much better than a homemade burger.
Later that evening things changed pretty quick. I started getting really sick again and the bone and muscle pain started kicking in. The Doctor said those side effects are from the Neulasta patch. I was awake all night long in pain with my feet, legs and sternum. The bone and muscle pain in my feet and legs was very painful. Also my feet get numb when I go to bed. That’s a side effect from Chemo. I’ve also had to get up every hour to use the restroom since Chemo day. Like every hour I have to urinate. It’s not that way during the day. Needless to say my sleep is way off!!!!!!
Got out of bed to go get fluids at my oncologist’s office. My chemo buddy went with me. It takes almost 3 hours to get fluids by the time they get me in. They always have to do blood work and take your vitals before they can do anything. I told the doctor of my pain and she said it was ok for me to take some pain killer if I needed, that I just shouldn’t take it for days in a row because my liver enzymes were up a little. This made me feel a little better knowing that I could take something. Usually the bone pain only last a couple days. This time was worse than last time.
After we finished I got soy noodles for lunch. I could somewhat taste it but it had a small metallic after taste.
I pretty much stayed on the couch the rest of the day and evening not feeling well.
I took two Aleve for the pain. It only helped a little.
When I went to bed, the numbness and pain in my feet and legs got a little worse but not as bad as the night before.
Didn’t sleep hardly at all again. I got up and went and got fluids again today. Fluids really help me because you are really suppose to drink a gallon of liquid per day when you are going thru Chemo to flush it out. I cannot drink that much. All liquids taste bad, water being the worst. I ALWAYS have to have coffee in the morning…I look forward to that every day, but since chemo I really don’t even want coffee because it doesn’t taste like coffee. Since I can’t drink enough liquids I have to get fluids thru my port. I felt pretty good while I was getting my fluids and thought for sure I was over the hump and would feel good enough to go to a friend’s house for dinner. I was excited to get out of the house and do something fun with friends. I left the doctor’s office to head home and felt tired so I thought I’d take a nap then go to my friends. When I got home I started to crash and not feel good again. Down on the couch I went and had to tell my friends that I wasn’t going to make it over. I also had a friend in town from Michigan who was in for a work conference that I wanted to see, but I just couldn’t make it to see her either. Since I’ve been doing Chemo I’ve had 4 friends come in from out of town and I wasn’t able to see them. Ugh!!!! Cabin fever is getting bad!! If any of you who reads this blog really know me, you know I am NOT the type of person to lay around and do nothing. I am always busy. If I’m not doing music on the road, writing or recording, I’m out working on the farm, working or building or remodeling something. I have to stay busy. This sitting around trapped inside my house is really getting old!
Again, I spend the evening on the couch.