My third chemo infusion comes later this week. So far, so good.
Am very happy to report that my heartburn has resolved, thanks to prescription Prilosec. I no longer need to sleep propped up. Given chemo's effect on the digestive tract, the Prilosec also works to prevent the ulcers that chemo can cause.
Other relatively new side effects include:
1. Metallic "chemo mouth" -- I had a bit of this during Cycle 1, but it increased during Cycle 2. I could literally detect the taste of my water changing while I still sat in the chemo chair. I've added lemon juice to my water, which does a great job of warding off the metallic taste. Currently my food tastes fine; I feel the chemo mouth most when I'm not eating. The effect is greatest during the first week after infusion.
2. Intermittent neuropathy and mild bone pain (no need for an analgesic) around the site where my left leg had suffered a compound fracture in 1966. It's not unusual for chemo to affect an old injury like that. Movement helps relieve it.
Monitoring: I've had a sebaceous cyst on the back of my head for decades, where it's minded its own business. It's visible now that I'm near-bald, and has reddened and grown more sensitive to touch over the past couple of days. That redness has decreased with the application of Neosporin, but it's something to check with my medical team, especially since I'm more prone to infection these days. The cyst is the reason why I had chosen to cut my remaining hair as short as I could instead of having my head shaved, leaving a mixture of bald spots and fuzz.
Otherwise, I'm doing great all things considered. As expected, my immunity had plummeted a week after my last chemo infusion, but has bounced back up this past week thanks to Neulasta. For a cancer patient, my last blood draw was pretty phenomenal -- the ARNP remarked that she had never seen a white blood count recover so well. *fist pump*
Last week I also picked up my first order from a cooperative of local organic farmers and have been in veggie heaven. I strongly believe that exercise and healthy food have been helping me through this process. Recent research shows that exercise may also boost survival odds for breast cancer patients.
My appetite was much better during Cycle 2. I've just posted my latest maintenance report on MyFitnessPal and am now at the 180-day mark since I had reached my goal weight. My job these days is to make sure that I eat enough. The graph below illustrates the past 30 days:
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As with my first chemo infusion, I had shot up 5 pounds overnight due to edema, constipation, and steroids. Those all resolved in a week, as they had after my first infusion.
Here's how my six 30-day periods compare:
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According to MFP, maintaining my weight requires 1600 net calories (net = total minus exercise calories burned). This marks the first time my average net calories have surpassed 1600. Interestingly, my average weight has remained about a pound below my maintenance weight. This might be due to inaccuracies on my part regarding calories consumed and burned through exercise, but if anything my weight seems to have stabilized over time -- even with the temporary gains from chemo. Listening to my body and what it needs has been my bottom line.
Doodling with Sharpies is one of my forms of meditation -- I mentally prepare myself especially in the days leading up to chemo. This time I bypassed my sketchbook and did some fabric art:
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Here are scans of the print, for detail. Click the magnifying glass for full size.