Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Post Chemo - the 6 Week Update

Today is six weeks since my last chemo session.

I know those of you still doing chemo are dying to know how long it will take until you don't need a nap after typing "" Hey, if I'd known how tired we'd all get, I wouldn't have picked such a long URL.

Live and learn.

When I look back a month, it's like I'm a different person. Back then, I was Grandpa Simpson, slightly confused, living in the past, spending a lot of time sleeping with my mouth open, drool pooling on my chin. Now, I'm more like Marge. Brain functioning well (although still a bit slow.) I'm able to manage housework and a deranged family, but I'm not quite up to Lisa standards yet.

Since we in Cancer World like percentages, I'd estimate that my energy level has come back to about 75% of normal. I work 4-5 hours a day (with a 30 minute commute each way) and function fine. I still can't push it; a full day makes me nauseated and exhausted. I can't awaken early and I still need rest, but I'm so much better than I was.

Disappointingly, my blood is not back to normal. My whites are still low, and I'm still anemic, but when I am up and functioning and at work, I'm really there and not thinking about napping. I am even back to cooking dinner for my family again (most nights), something that I hadn't done in months.

I have enough energy to shop the mall again, and spend a half day doing something enjoyable. I can walk up a flight of stairs without needing to stop and rest half way up.

Chemo-brain is also improving. When I first started back at work, before chemo was finished, I couldn't solve the smallest problem if it involved sequencing or tracking something. My substitute set up a filing system of her own (appropriately) and the thought of looking for something in her files was just overwhelming. Like Grandpa Simpson, my memory would flake out on me; I'd forget what I was looking for before I found it and instead start talking about World War II. Now, while I still forget things if I don't write them down, I can follow a thought from beginning to end. I still occasionally discuss WWII but that's just when I want to drive people out of my office.

Physically, I'm better too. As I posted earlier, my hair is growing in, although it's very uneven and not very attractive. (Okay, it's ugly.) My eyelashes are coming back, my brows are full enough and I am forced to shave my legs on a regular basis again. My neuropathy is mostly gone, although when cold air blows on me I still experience some in my hands. My biggest physical problem now is bone aches. It's hard to tell if that is leftover from chemo, or a side effect from tamoxifen or herceptin. I wake up in the morning as I imagine Grandpa Simpson must - groaning, moving slowly, waiting to loosen up.

A nice hot bath/shower in the morning helps a lot with the aching.

I can't wait until I'm back to Lisa status, mind and body bright and able to go an entire day without feeling tired, but I won't complain. I've certainly come a long way in a short time.

You will too.


  1. I'm so glad to see you're feeling good. I just started, my first chemo treatment was just yesterday, I have 7 more cycles to go. I feel okay and even took a one hour walk with my Dad this morning. Your blog gives me so much insight and encouragement. it's your WIT that drives me more than your medical terminology. I know you must be "cancered out" but if interested I too, have a blog.
    It's not suppose to be about breast cancer, it was suppose to be all things that I find joy and happy at. So go figure, it changed but I still plan to stay on course.


  2. Annabelle, love your blog. I especially love the post about not getting reconstruction. I can't believe people are even pushing you to do something when you don't need to. You rock!

  3. Annabelle, just to say I read even more of your blog and I just linked to it. It's a beautiful, artistic scrapbook of your life. It's fantastic and you are quite talented.

  4. Thank you Ann for following. I found you coz I remember after my Feb diagnosis I told all my girlfriends "I HATE PINK" and when I saw you on FB, I knew I could "connect". I even bought everything you suggested for my first week of Chemo, the kit sits in my bathroom and so far, so good. I appreciate your quick wit, truth and most of all your inspiring way of making this experience for me easy to cope. Passing big hugs as you cross to your "new" life at the tail end of this journey (I know they say we can't state that till after 5 years but f**k it! I'm throwing it out there for ya).
    Be well and thanks again for your following.

  5. By all means, dye your hair! I and two ovarian cancer buddies finished chemo about the same time, so all our hair started growing back about the same time. I probably had 1/4 inch of hair and was considering dyeing it when I found out the other two had already done it with the same short length of hair! So I rushed off and got it down myself. It did make me feel better. Like you, I was not gray before chemo, and it was totally gray when the hair came back in. It isn't now, as that was in Sep 2007, but a salon can dye any length of hair. Give it a try! It will boost your spirits!

  6. I'm reading your blog through in chronological order as a point of interest to me. I love the way you write, and your joyous cynicism (and rightfully so!) surrounding all those people who say stupid things about cancer and try to tell you how to treat it.

    I just finished watching the video I have posted the link to below and I think it might interest you, purely because you will hate this guy more and more as the video goes on. It's fairly lengthy, about half an hour I think, but it is worth the watch, as you get drawn in by his ignorance.

    Some of the things he says are actually true, but 'some' is rather the overestimation. He says at some point about mammograms being basically pointless and unnecessary and just a way for pharmaceutical companies to make loads of money. He says you can prevent or 'even reverse cancer'! I hate to use such strong language but really, it's bullshit.

    If you get a bit of time, watch it, seethe, and fight the urge to drive to his surgery and punch him in the face. I'm sure it would make a good blog entry too…


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