Today is most likely my last chemo, two infusions shy of completing the original treatment plan. I’ll still have weekly blood draws to monitor my counts, but no more visits to the Infusion Room.
Six months of chemo.
Four rounds of AC.
Three rounds of carbo.
Ten rounds of taxol.
Plus three ER visits, neutropenic fever, pneumonia, and extremely low blood counts.
Today’s doses of carbo and taxol will be reduced by 20 percent. My oxygen levels are still low and drop with even mild exertion, most likely because of anemia. Neuropathy, limited to my right hand and foot, is getting worse – going from just numb fingertips a few weeks ago to now a tingly hand and foot. The neuropathy turns to restless leg syndrome on Friday nights making it almost impossible to sleep – this is probably caused by the Benadryl given as one of the pre-meds to help fight allergic reaction to the chemo meds.
It isn’t uncommon to stop chemo before the end of treatment, especially with the amount I’ve endured. I’ve known for a while that the infusions would most likely stop before the originally prescribed 12. Mentally, I just wanted to get to 10 doses of the taxol. In my mind, that’s the magic number.
Still, I’ve been thinking “what if” – if the cancer comes back, will I regret not getting the full, original treatment plan? Would those final two doses make a difference?
The oncologist put some of those fears to rest this morning. At this point, there’s “probably” little the chemo is doing for the tumors, and the side effects (especially the neuropathy, which can become permanent if the chemo isn’t stopped in time) outnumber the benefits. Given my “young” age, the plan was to get as much of the chemo drugs as possible without creating any long-term problems.
This also means I may be able to move my scheduled mammogram and ultrasound, which could move the surgery date earlier in July, giving me more time to recover before school starts.
And yet, I’m a little scared. For six months, I’ve “known” what to expect week-to-week, day-to-day. Chemo is crazy routine in what to expect and when to expect it. Now that it’s coming to an end, the next phases have more gray areas and more decisions to make.
And I still haven’t committed to a surgical option.