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Dose 6: five more weeks of this

July 29, 2018

On Monday I had my sixth chemo treatment. The time between doses 5 and 6 seemed to go pretty slowly, so by the time Monday got here, I was ready to get it done. Treatment went well. I was already tired so when I got the Benadryl, I fell asleep for a while. I was so tired throughout that I couldn’t focus on any of the activities I brought, so I ended up being kind of bored. Oh well.

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The 3 hour drip 😩

The next few days were busy and fun. We had out of town friends staying with us to help out. We met up with some of Jonathan’s family who came through town. We had dinner with other friends. My younger sister and her family came into town from China. And I seized a couple days where we wouldn’t be eating at home (and had extra hands to help) to pour an epoxy top of our dining room table.

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I felt good throughout all of this, though I needed to nap a couple afternoons. On Thursday I started feeling achy and by Friday the weird, twingy pains were back. It’s nothing to stop me from functioning, but it is unpleasant. My hips ache pretty consistently and I get pains at the top of my shins and other random spots.

Yesterday, I woke up feeling good. I cleaned up around the house and then went to the local produce market to get some peaches. By the time I came home, I was aching again and so cold I had to wear a jacket while I ate breakfast. It ended up being identical to the fever I had last Tuesday. I felt miserable and stayed in bed for several hours, but by last night, my fever was gone and I felt pretty normal. I decided to stay home from church today to reduce exposure to more germs.

A few days ago, I noticed that my fingertips felt a little strange. We thought it was probably because of all the work I had been doing on the table – sanding, hammering, stirring and scraping. But now, they still feel that way. My index fingers and thumbs are the most noticeable. You know how it feels when you get super glue on your fingers and you can mostly feel but there’s a slight lack of sensation? That’s how it feels. This is normal and, as usual, I’ve heard horror stories about your hands and feet feeling like they are asleep, tingling and hurting. So, so far, so good.

A few other “this body of mine” things I’d like to mention:

Mouth and nose. Throughout chemo, my taste buds have treated me well. I’ve never had major food aversions and have been able to eat just about whatever I wanted. My nose has occasionally discouraged me from things. It’s never been extreme, but reminds me of whenever I was pregnant and the smell of dryer sheets made me gag.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that my nose was really drippy, but didn’t think much about it. I was looking at other breast cancer patient’s Instagrams, though, and saw someone mention their lack of nose hair being the cause of the drippy nose. I’ve checked and while I do still have some hair in my nose, it’s sparse. And since my nose keeps dripping, I’m going to assume it’s fallen out like the rest of my hair.

Over the last month, I developed one consistently sore spot in my mouth. It was where the gum on my bottom left canine was already a little receded and just kept getting lower and more sore. If I did oil pulling a couple times a day, I would feel a big improvement, but it was hard to keep up with it enough to get it healed completely. I went to the dentist last week. My last cleaning had been before I started chemo, so we decided I’d come in after 3 months instead of 6 to make sure that there wasn’t anything bad happening to my teeth. They cleaned the spot really well and the dentist told me to rinse my mouth with water that was salty enough to taste bad. I did it once and it improved so much. Of course, I haven’t done it since then (you know, since it was so much better), but I need to get back to it.

My weight. I had thought that I would lose weight during chemo, so I was a little annoyed when I started gaining instead. But, I told myself that as long as I was doing chemo, I wasn’t going to worry about it. I wasn’t going to weigh myself at home. I have other priorities right now. I also wasn’t totally surprised to be gaining since I knew I was doing a lot of comfort eating and drinking and not exercising at all. The part that bothers me the most is that all the weight seems to be in my belly, so I’m uncomfortable and my clothes don’t fit. My children have asked me at least twice recently if there was a baby in my belly. (This doesn’t hurt my feelings. It just reminds me of what I already know.)

Recently I was on Instagram (again) and saw a lady mention how happy she was to be done with chemo and to be wanting vegetables again. She had also expected to lose weight during chemo, but had gained due to the steroids she was on. She mentioned that steroids cause bloating, carb cravings and insomnia. I was surprised and comforted to read this, since I’ve experienced all of these. I’m not eating total junk, but I’ve been frustrated with myself because I know there’s a strong connection between my diet and my health. I know that ultimately I am responsible for what I eat, but it is nice to know that some of this is medically induced.

That brings me back to Saturday when I was feeling feverish and discouraged. I just want my body back. I want to be more in control of what’s going on in it. To not feel bad for random reasons or be tired all the time. I have about 5 weeks of chemo left. Today, I don’t feel like that is a lot. It’s two more treatments plus one more week from this treatment. But yesterday, it was too much.

Someone recently sent me a shirt that says “grace wins”. I got it the week I got the all-clear scan, so I wore it like Grace wins!!! Yesterday, I wore it again, and it was more of a reminder – Grace wins. It won’t always be like this.

Today we were at the swimming pool and I was holding Alida in the water. I did it once a few weeks ago and now she asks me to do it for a little while whenever we go swimming. (Her love language is physical touch.) We were talking and she said she wished I had never gotten cancer. I told her I did too, but that it would make us stronger as a family or something like that. So she asked how cancer makes you stronger. Geez. I’m not good at these conversations… Jonathan’s mom had breast cancer when he was in high school. Both of them really struggle to remember much about it. I don’t want to forget this, but I do look forward to the day when this is a distant memory that we have to work to remember.

A creek full of cousins

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