Taxol #5 And Dinner’s On Me

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

 

***RECIPE IS AT END OF POST***

Today was chemo day; the 5th overall and the 3rd of my weekly treatments. Always being the rebellious child, I started out with 2 dose dense treatments and decided really fast that those were for the birds. So, I switched to a weekly regime with a lower dose and caused my new doctor to have to do math and stuff. He sentenced me to six more weeks with no chance of parole. Fast forward to today, and I have 3 weeks left!

Last week was sooo nice, as chemotherapy goes. My white blood cell count was low, so my dose was reduced even further. That was the best I have felt after any treatment, ever. My mom came to stay for a few days because my husband had knee surgery on top of everything else. You know, chemo just doesn’t present enough of a challenge sometimes. I went for the lightning bonus round! We were able to shop all weekend, and I actually felt pretty decent in spite of having a Neupogen shot on Friday and another on Monday. Let me tell you, Claritin is the ticket if you have to get cell booster shots. No bone pain whatsoever.

burka

Unfortunately, I gallivanted around so much that I caught a nasty cold Monday. So here I am, this pitiful creature with a bandana and a snuffy nose. Quite a lovely sight! I should probably wear one on my head and one over my nose and mouth so I don’t get germs. Too bad I’m not Muslim; a burka would be perfect for someone in my situation.

I find that I’m able to do a lot more of my usual activities with weekly Taxol. I just get a little tired two days after infusion, and my hemoglobin is going down again, uggh! Today it was 10.6, which isn’t terrible, but normal for me is 14, so I’m really feeling the effects when I try to run. There’s just not enough oxygen to do any sustained exercise. But I’m still getting out there at least twice a week to keep some level of fitness. I’m not expecting to be in top shape. (Ok, I do get a little frustrated, but I’m trying…) 🙂

Today I’m going to share a recipe that requires a little more prep than the others you’ve seen, but it’s very healthy and tastes delicious! So the extra effort is worth it. A food processor would be a Godsend for recipes like this. I don’t have one, so it takes a long time to dice all the veggies. I’ll be getting one soon.

STUFFED PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

Ingredients:

1 diced yellow squash

1 diced zucchini squash

1/2 diced sweet onion

1 cup diced mushrooms (can dice portabella stems)

6 large portabella mushrooms

organic canned diced tomatoes

4 servings basmati or wild brown pecan rice

1/2 pound browned meat (I used mild Italian sausage)- optional

shredded mozzarella cheese to taste

Directions:

Cook rice according to package directions. Dice all vegetables. Wash mushrooms thoroughly and pat dry. Scrape ribs out of mushroom caps gently with a spoon to make room for filling. Brown Meat; drain and set aside. Hover over pics below to see captions:

Bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes. Serves 4-6, depending on appetite.

Well, I’m off to dice veggies…enjoy.

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And Round #2 Goes To Taxol

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY (this one goes out to Taxol):

First for the good news. So far, the things I’ve been doing to stave off the worst side effects of Taxol have been working. Icing my hands and feet during infusion seems to have kept the peripheral neuropathy at bay, despite my doctor nearly laughing in my face about it last week. Our conversation went something like this:

Highly Educated Doctor: So, any numbness or tingling to report in the fingers and toes?

Small, Unimportant Me: No, none yet. But you know I’ve been icing my hands and feet.

Highly Educated Doctor: (with a dismissive sneer) And you think that’s going to work? Ha Ha Ha.

Small, Pissed Off Me: I don’t really know, but I’ll be glad to try your alternative. Just tell me what that is so I can write it down.

Highly Educated Doctor: silence

Nuff said.

Photo Jul 28, 11 36 30 AM

In addition to the icing, I read a tip on several forums about keeping a nourishing base coat of polish on the nails of the fingers and toes for the duration of Taxol treatment. It seems to protect the nails from discoloration and splitting. I did try to find a polish without the usual set of carcinogens in it. Look in a a natural foods or makeup store. I just use clear polish, and the nails are in good shape (yep, that’s me).

And I also have very good news to report on the bone pain front. As you may remember, I likened my last encounter with Taxol chemotherapy to being tied up and worked over by Lilliputians. I felt like a 90 year-old woman all weekend. I read about the virtues of Claritin to help with this very unpleasant side effect, and it seems to have worked. I didn’t take it early enough last time because I had no idea it was coming. This time, I took a dose the morning of my Neulasta shot, the day after chemo. I am now 3 days out, and I’ve only felt the slightest tug here and there, very manageable.

headacheUnfortunately, this was me on Saturday. I woke up at about 3am with a splitting headache. I took a hot bath and managed to keep some ibuprofen down, only to find, when I woke up again at 6:30, that this was only the tip of the iceberg. It felt like my skull was literally going to explode. I tried to get more pain pills down, but then the nausea began. At 7am, I told my husband to call the doctor, which is huge for me. I am not a whiner, and I rarely ask for help. I have probably only taken half a dozen anti-nausea pills through this whole ordeal. The doctor must have been thrilled to hear from us bright and early on a Saturday, but he was very nice (different doctor, I might add). He told my husband to crush the anti-nausea pill and let it dissolve under my tongue. Then I was to take 2 ibuprofen and 2 Tylenol after 15 minutes. If that didn’t work, the doctor told my husband to take me to the Emergency Room to get a migraine injection. Yeah, right, because riding in the car in bright sunlight and then waiting for 6 hours to be seen would probably do the trick!

dog with headacheI kept the anti-nausea drug down but didn’t manage to swallow the pain pills without vomiting. So, I kept up the cycle of headache, vomiting, and occasional relief for several hours. Needless to say, I was in bed for the duration yesterday. I never saw our downstairs. I was able to eat exactly one half of a piece of toast and half a bowl of ramen noodle soup before bed last night.

I feel much better today, just tired and weak from being in bed all day and not eating or drinking much. My new mission is to either figure out how to prevent this scenario from ever happening again or to drop down my Taxol dosage. I really don’t want to do that because it might mean several more weeks of chemo, but being completely debilitated is not an option. Back to my research….I’ll keep you posted. You know I don’t give up that easily!

Taxol…Bad To The Bone

Here is the 80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY: (I couldn’t resist):)

I am officially almost 72 hours out from my first Taxol chemotherapy infusion, so I think it’s safe to give you a preliminary update. Here’s how it went down:

THURSDAY (INFUSION DAY)

Taxol infusion is a longer affair than AC (Adriamycin/Cytoxan), mainly because there is a much greater potential for immediate allergic reactions, and you have to be monitored more closely. Therefore, they drip the medication in very slowly over 3 hours or so. By the time all is said in done, you’ve spent 4 hours plus in your “chemo suite”, which is really a misnomer, because there is no minibar, mint on the pillow, or even HBO. I won’t really be recommending this on Trip Advisor, although, sadly, it’s better than some hotels I’ve stayed in. All in all, Thursday was leaps and bounds better than than AC, which is spawn of Satan. I had zero nausea and went about business pretty much as usual. I still let my hubby cook dinner; I have to use the cancer card sometimes!

FRIDAY

Friday was a great day. I was a little tired, but I had been very restless the night before from being hopped up on steroids, and I couldn’t sleep past 5 am. I went in for my Neulasta shot, went to the acupuncturist, and took the kids to lunch and to do a little shopping. I made dinner and turned in early. I was sooo excited that this Taxol stuff was going to be a breeze.

SATURDAY

And this is usually when the Gods look down on my self-satisfied smugness and let out a long, evil belly laugh. Let’s just say, Saturday they were really having a ball. I was ok when I woke up, but a steady ache had started to settle in my pelvis. Still, I managed to get out with the family for a few hours. By the time we came home, the ache was more like a pain and the fatigue was much worse. I just started to feel really “unwell”. I spent the rest of the afternoon in bed, trying to find a comfortable position, which is very difficult when angry Lilliputians are drilling wood screws in your hip bones and putting your ovaries in tiny vices.

I think a lot of my “crash” had to do with the steroids finally clearing my system, ending my artificially induced high.

SUNDAY

Today is a better day. I’m still achy, but I am functioning. I will be off to the drug store later to buy some Claritin, which I have read on some cancer forums may ease bone and joint pain. I’ll let you know if it works.

Also, I am almost done putting together a post on supplements which have helped me tremendously with this journey. Stay tuned…