Posted on March 17, 2016
Good afternoon and happy Saint Patrick's Day!
It's been one week since my second chemotherapy. Sure enough, as members of my support group warned, the days following chemo become more difficult with each treatment. Although my nausea wasn't as bad as the first time (thanks to a new medicine), my exhaustion, body aches and some other stomach issues are worse.
I also had the Neulasta shot the day after the second chemo. Neulasta is a medication to help promote white blood cell growth following chemotherapy, which in turn helps boost one's immune system, preventing infection or illness. As you may recall, 10 days after my first chemo, I was hospitalized because my white blood cell count was below 100 and I developed what is called a Neutropenic Fever associated with the abnormally low count. A normal person has a white blood cell count in the many thousands.
White blood cells are produced in one's bone marrow. Unfortunately with Neulasta, the cell production is greatly expedited and can cause extreme pain throughout the body -- especially in the pelvis, legs and ribs. Imagine a printing press operating on hyper drive to produce thousands of magazines a day when it normally produces 100. That's what's been happening inside my bones. Although the bulk of the pain has passed, it rendered me immobile for a time.
The good news is the pain was worth the gain. Today my blood work showed my white count to be higher than 13,000, which is outstanding. If everything holds, I should be able to avoid the hospital this go around.
I'm fortunate in that I only need four rounds of chemotherapy. My mother endured six. I've met women my age who had seven, 12 or more. Granted, each case is unique and often the drugs are not entirely the same, but the process is debilitating none-the-less.
While this phase of mine and Greg's lives is temporary, it's emotionally taxing at times. I have to keep reminding myself, "I'm halfway done."
Each day I am reminded how loved Greg and I are. The cards from so many are taped throughout our living room walls. The gifts sent by some provide a variety of things, including support, distractions, sweet messages or funny notes. I know I may not write that much or update as often as I should, but every day my heart is full of gratitude for all that we've been given.
The temptation to be angry, cry or complain can be overwhelming. But the desire to be thankful for all the little things in life is something I like to think wins more often than not. For example, it was awful being laid up from the bone pain, but at least I had somewhere safe to lay, with a television and a dog who adores me. Yes, I am a bald cancer patient with good and bad days, but I'm also a survivor with a network of family and friends who continue to support me.
I challenge you to find the good in a bad or unfortunate situation today. Your car may break down, but at least you have a car that's gotten you this far. Maybe your boss is a mean person, but you have a job and can choose to live in joy. Whatever your plight, I encourage you to find the good. It'll make all the difference in the world.
Until I write again, thank you for all your support and well wishes. Greg and I are grateful more than you'll ever know.
Dana and Greg