The Chemo Chronicles: I Want My Eyebrows Back

I’m afraid I lost my patience and my sense of humor this week. The weather here has finally gotten bearable – under 90 many days, and dropping below 70 at night – giving the illusion of, say, a beautiful late August day in West Virginia. We had some rain (two inches over as many weeks) so some of the vegetation is green instead of brown. So where I would really rather be is in the mountains seeing the leaves turn, as I’ve been saying I intended to do every fall for a while now. Recovery from this new stuff took longer, and Thursday I had a bout of lower back pain, a predicted side effect, which hurt whether I sat, stood, or lay down. My smart-aleck brother suggested I float, so Robert’s fired up the hot tub, which has been dormant during the hot weather ;-)Anyway, what is always amazing is that days after each treatment, not gradually but suddenly, I feel almost normal. Friday morning I felt fine and I’ve regained some perspective.

I quit wearing makeup except for major occasions years ago, and have trouble remembering to use lip gloss so my lips don’t crack. I have fits where I buy SPF 15 tinted moisturizer or even eyeshadow, but this summer, warned to throw out any out-of-date makeup for fear of infection, I discovered everything I had, though appearing unused, was years old. So when I peered into my magnifying mirror and realized there were a few stray hairs where my eyebrows used to be, it was traumatic. I made several trips to Walgreen’s and CSV for eyebrow pencils – too hard, too soft, too light, too dark. The wig, at least, can just be pulled on and fluffed. But eyebrows! You have to draw dozens of individual hairs. In the dim light of morning. After only one cup of coffee. The pencil has to be sharp, or you get fat lines that look like someone threw tiny caterpillars on you.

No matter how bad I feel, I enjoy sitting on the back porch overlooking the pond, and it has been even better in the cool weather lately. I’ve attached a picture so y’all can enjoy the view too.

The Chemo Chronicles: Part 2

In the last episode our heroine had finished Chemo Part 1 (Taxol) and was waiting on the results of an MRI and the beginning of Chemo Part 2.

We got the MRI results last week and I saw my oncologist today – between my vacation and hers and other schedule changes, I hadn’t seen her since the beginning of August, and not since the MRI results. She is very excited that the results were so good, confirming what she could feel (or not feel ;-) Not only has the visible tumor disappeared, but the questionable areas in my other breast have also. (That’s good news, but probably means they were cancer, too, even though the biopsy on that side showed nothing definitive. So we are probably looking at further treatment on both sides, not just one, when we get to that. My surgeon is in China, so we can’t discuss the implications for surgery for a while, but I’m hoping the fact that the radiologist marked the spots when she did the biopsies will allow lumpectomies, since otherwise we can’t tell where anything might be.)

The effects of the new chemo (FEC, Fluorouracil, Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide) seem to be coming on much quicker than the Taxol – maybe because it is a fast infusion – about an hour and a half for all three drugs. This is more likely to cause nausea than Part 1, but so far so good – I don’t feel worse than I did last time. I’m feeling pretty spacy – not so much of the steroid high from the anti-nausea drugs, just tired and fuzzy. So I thought I’d send y’all a report before I get entirely out of it for a while. I was planning on going to work for the rest of the week, but we’ll have to see how I feel. Maybe if the side-effects come on faster, they’ll end faster and I can go in Monday.

Thanks to y’all for listening and your thoughts and prayers.