On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chemo #1 of 6 - DONE!

Chemotherapy finally began today.  This would be Taxotere, originally developed from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, but now grown hydroponically where the roots are harvested.

In Juvenile Hall yesterday the boys were discussing the effects of plants on the human body - everything from poison oak and some of the illicit drugs they've been involved with as well as medicines and life-saving chemotherapy such as Taxotere from the Pacific yew.  They understand the value of treasuring our environment and becoming more mindful of how we treat our various habitats.  It's interesting what conversations can roll when you're sitting around drawing in your sketchbooks with teenage miscreants, one reason I love them so!

Steve snapped this photo - he was sitting in the rocker next to me.  He baked blueberry muffins for the staff, visitors and patients and they flew off the serving plates as the volunteer walked them around.

Because I haven't had Taxotere since September, 2002, the session was longer and more cautious.  There was a full "teach" to remind me of how to deal with side effects and to be especially careful during the nadir (the 8th to 10th day of each three-week cycle when my white blood cells count will plummet and I'll be vulnerable to infection).

Today I feel fine - I'm pumped up on three days of steroids that help offset more serious side effects - so I've basically given up sleep for a while.  As chemotherapy regimens go, Taxotere is one of the more tolerable ones, that's my memory from all those years ago.  But I keep remembering that I was ten years younger then - all this time I've been sitting there receiving Herceptin every three weeks just watching the staff grow old - but now it's hit me that I've aged too and chemotherapy may or may not be different this go round.

So Steve worked his crossword puzzle (which I finished for him, smirk, smirk), and I sat and drew and Demi kept vigil.  The room is open so there were other patients and their relatives and friends keeping them company.  As a ten-year patient I had lots of visitors when staff had free moments.  My own oncologist even strolled across the hall for a mug of coffee and a brief chat.

When this regimen ends - late February - I will no longer be a patient there because Herceptin won't be effective on these new tumors (my status changed from Her-2 positive to Her-2 negative, devious as that cancer can be).  So what will I do - have to get a post-patient life????? I've been there ten years!


  1. I didn't realize that Taxotere came from yew trees. It seems like a good omen for a treatment. Congratulations on #1 of 6 being done.

  2. Hi Rebecca -- PACIFIC yew trees! Unfortunately it kills the tree when the bark is stripped so they have become quite endangered (and they are slow-growing) - thus the synthetic and other efforts to make it.

  3. Glad t see treatment has started and that you expect to feel fairly good through it. I sure hope it doesn't make you have those really bad days. Sounds like Steve is wonderful to have around - blueberry muffins sound mighty tempting!

  4. This is the same oncologist that delivered the bad news so ungraciously? With life comes changes all the time. I didn't know cancer had fancy names and that you could go from positive to negative. Glad your husband is so supportive.


Related Posts with Thumbnails