Friday, August 5, 2011

Chemo #5: Almost there

Learning from chemo #4, when the side-effects was painful and long, we tried to avert it this time by planning to go to rehydration a day after chemo #5 and continue for more as needed.

I went in for hydration on Tuesday, a day after chemo.  It helped during the first three days, alleviating the nausea and weakness but I still cannot taste food or tolerate liquids. 

On Friday, I thought I was strong enough and volunteered to drive to Seafood City in Carson, a Filipino grocery store.  As I was driving toward the 405 freeway entrance, I felt a little weak and felt I needed to go to the bathroom.  I made a U-turn and tried to go back home.  Good thing I wasn't too far away yet.  Suddenly my vision became blurred and it turned into an all-white vision.  I couldn't see anything but white cloudy shades.  I drove 5 mph to make it home and try not to get into an accident.

When I got home, I felt too weak I could barely get up.  We decided to call Jim at work to bring me to the hospital to get rehydrated again.  While waiting for Jim, my 2-year old son James, saw me crying (which I always try to hide from him as much as I can).  He came over me to hug me and in my weakness, I placed my head over his shoulder.  I didn't expect that at his age he can understand what was going on.  But he held my head over his shoulder and I could feel that he was comforting me.  It was a moment I can never forget.

Jim had to carry me to the car and get to UCLA.  As we arrived, the nurses have prepared everything needed for me and had to bring me to a room to lie down during infusion instead of the recliner we usually sit on.  I was also given Reglan thru IV. It is an antiemetic drug used 27 years ago to fight nausea and vomiting among chemotherapy patients.  My current medications ativan, zofran, compazine and sancuso patch have not been helping and have been causing severe constipation so my oncologist decided to put me on Reglan to try if it will work.

After 3 hours, I started to feel a little stronger, enough to walk back and sit on the wheelchair.

I went back for another hydration the following Monday.  This time I felt much better and started to eat and drink normally a day after.

It has been a better chemo cycle than chemo #4 from which we have learned how to forestall the side effects.  Although we still encountered a little difficulty, I was able to recover a little faster and have been able to get more food in body.  The depression still comes every now and then, which I still cannot pinpoint the cause most of the time.  I cry sometimes, feeling deep sadness without any cause.

My Med School friends from 12 years ago, Zennia, Jad, Mitch and Carol
But most of the time I felt surges of energy than ever before.  It helped that I have been getting a lot of visits from beloved friends that I forget my moments of weakness and sadness.  I ate with gusto with them like its a feast.  
College friends Irene and Iris and kids

I've set my mind that I will make something special for Jim's birthday on July 30.  Although I wasn't sure if I would have the energy, I still prepared myself by watching tens of YouTube videos on how to make a fondant birthday cake.  I have been a big fan of two of the best cake makers I know, Chris Edrei De Leon-Soriano (Cakes by Edrei) and Mayen Bioc-Orido (Way Beyond Cakes).  I know I couldn't do their works of art as well but their inspiration was enough for me to try making my first cake, for Jim.

Chocolate cake with buttercream icing and white fondant
Red velvet cake with buttercream icing and blue fondant with chocolate icing trims
I made it when Jim was at work, in between rest times, taking care of James and some household chores (which my mostly takes care of).  We also made a tray of Lumpiang Shanghai (Filipino egg rolls).  James and I surprised Jim with the cakes and Lumpia by bringing it to his work on his birthday.  Yes, he worked on his birthday.

I was happy that most of his co-workers, including Jim of course, liked the cakes and the lumpia. 

I never imagined how tiring and tedious cake-making was until I tried it myself.  All the more I admire how my friends Edrei (who is undergoing regular dialysis) and Mayen (who has a four year old and a newborn) can do this excellently.  If you visit their pages (please click the links above) you will see how great their cakes are.  I will almost think twice eating it and might just want to display it.

Aside from my friends visiting, one thing that has given me a lot of strength to fight chemo#5 is the effort and love of friends from Manila, Philippines.  A group of friends is organizing a benefit dinner on August 27 at the Orchid Gardens Suites, to help raise funds for my treatments and to help raise awareness on breast cancer among young women and men and on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer gene (BRCA gene).  They have opened the event to everyone who would like to join.  I never imagined that so many people care so much to make this event possible.  I wish I will be able to join them physically, if were not still undergoing treatment.

Next chemo, on August 8,  will be my last (hopefully!).  We will know if I need more chemotherapy or other treatments after they run PET scans, MRI, blood tests, ultrasound and full body scans the following week.  I will start radiation therapy on August 19, Monday thru Friday for 35 cycles.

I believe there's hope and an end to every challenge.  I'm almost there.  I know I will survive.

If you can , please help in raising funds for Krissy's Breast Cancer treatment: