Steps and pills will help my bones

Yesterday was radiation day 5! That means I am more than halfway there, I only have four more to go! That is kind of cool and exciting. I will be glad to have the daily early afternoon back. Going in at 2:40 everyday does not seem that bad unless you are also trying to homeschool three kids and get a ride from someone. The radiation has been fairly painless. I did notice some soreness in the back of my neck starting Friday after radiation and also Tuesday. I think it was the muscles reacting a little to the radiation around them and also those are both gymnastics days where I get to watch my youngest while I sit on some very flexible bleachers that let me feel every step of every person. So that may have had something to do with the soreness. Watching soccer from the car does not seem to bother my neck as much. The other symptom from the radiation seems to be fatigue. On the other hand that is also a symptom of the new medication, Ibrance, that I started taking on Sunday. Not sure if I am getting fatigue from both or just from the Ibrance. I am guessing both. I was worried that since the pill was larger, almost as large as the calcium that I cannot swallow, that I would not be able to swallow it. This would have been a problem because it is a capsule and cannot be opened or crushed like the calcium. Fortunately, the pill is a soft shell and it seems to go right down as long as I take it in the morning.

My surgeon had told me I could take my brace off during the night as my neck is supported by my pillow. I find if I leave my brace off most of the night that when I wake up in the morning I have less swallowing issues and my tongue and face feel like they have a little more sensation. I am hopeful that this bodes well for when I get the brace off at the end of the month, and that I will start to see a lot more improvement in my tongue sensation and my face control. Right now I have a hard time getting my lower right lip out of the way of the food I am biting. But I was talking about swallowing my new pill. The night off from constriction of the brace gives me better mouth and swallowing control so I have been able to get that pill down. On Sunday and Monday I definitely noticed fatigue in the afternoons. I have read that this can improve, but given that I am doing radiation simultaneously, I will not really know until after the radiation ends.

The fatigue is definitely manageable right now. I just keep the homeschooling light, just a few subjects a day. Then I try to rest in the morning on days when I know we have a lot going on in the afternoons. In fact yesterday we had a lot going on in the afternoon so I picked fun self sufficient activities for the kids that did not even require me at all. Then I sat in the recliner and rested. They felt good, and I felt good going into the afternoon. Tuesday we had some heightened emotions in the family which is to be expected in a situation like this especially when you throw in that my husband has a cast on his arm from his surgery. This is another reason we took it light yesterday. I had some chats with the kids about their emotions and then their art was play dough which is great for all of their sensory issues and definitely helps to bring them back to center. I think my plan may have actually worked, and everyone was great last night.

On the exercise front I have been working at meeting my watch step goals. If I meet them they go up for the next day. This week I have done pretty well, getting 3 out of the 5 days. I was able to get in a 1.5 mi walk to the mailbox this week. I need to do more of those, but with the radiation and the homeschooling It is hard to fit it in. Today I tried just doing some step ups while I waited for my coffee to brew. That was harder than I anticipated it being. Which means I should do more of those. I should try adding squats too, because when I am putting dishes away I still have a hard time getting back up and have to grab the counter. I always say the more you do the more you can do. So time to get moving on the days when I can’t get out and go for a walk!

I had a phone call from an old college friend yesterday, and she asked how I keep track of everything that the family does on a daily basis. I would love to blog about stuff that does not have to do with cancer, too. So you let me all know if you would be interested in my bullet journal/digital system that helps my chemo brain keep track of our crazy family life. Post a comment on facebook or here at the blog with your opinion.

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Shots Ahoy!

Let the treatment begin! I got the first set of shots yesterday. In all the confusion to get the insurance approval for all the medications the doc’s office did not call me to actually talk to me about the side effects and everything I was getting into with the shots. Going into the appointment I was a little nervous. I met with my doctor first and he proceeded to tell me all my bloodwork looked good. I had one rogue cancer marker that was high and did not make sense to him, so we will have to wait for the next set of bloodwork to see if that will go back to normal or stay weird. It was normal before surgery and then high after surgery. Which he found to be unusual. I do unusually well, so he just rolls with it. Aside from that, my body seems to be starting off well and ready for what’s coming. As he was in the middle of his exam a nurse popped in and whisked me away for the shots. Apparently, the chemo nurse who gives the shots needed to go home and was waiting on me. As I came into the chemo room they assumed that one of the nurses had called me and talked to me about the side effects and what was involved. I was able inform them that I had no idea what was coming. So, she handed me a stack of info to read later and told me that what I thought was two shots was actually going to be three. Two of the shots would be given at the same time because they can be painful. The rational is that it is best to just get it all over with at once. Those two shots were the faslodex which is the anti-estrogen receptor medication. This medication targets the estrogen receptors on the breast cancer cells and tries to destroy them, so that any estrogen cannot bind to the cancer cells and help them grow. They told me the side effects could be shot pain or nothing, but to read the info packet. The two shots would be in the butt. The third shot would be given in the belly as recommended by another tech in the room who also gets the same shot. This shot is Xgeva. This is a monoclonal antibody that helps build and repair the bones. This one could cause bone pain or be nothing. The tech who got the shot told me she had no side effects, but she did recommend they inject slowly as otherwise it could cause a significant bruise.

Then I got the two shots. Nothing is more comforting, as you get a shot, then the nurses telling you that they have to regrip the syringe with two hands to force the liquid out into you. Then comment about how thick the liquid is. Oh yeah, patient, you might want to take deep breaths while we do this. Nothing to do but breathe deep, suck it up and go with the slow flow. It was not too bad, but also not great. Then they switched to the belly shot. This one did not seem as intimidating as I used to have to give myself a shot in the belly during chemo in 2012. It was injected slowly and as I have a bit of a steroid belly, it did not hurt at all.

I have been on the phone with various people today as I am still waiting to find out where my last medication is. The shot nurses were surprised I did not have my pills yet. They said people usually get them over-nighted, and I have been waiting for at least a week. So the goal for today is to find where those pills are. So much back and forth! After about 10 different phone calls I realized the nurse at my oncologist’s office dropped the ball and then dropped it again. I was finally able to remedy the situation, and it looks like I will be able to get my last medication by the end of the week. They informed me that I should get a call today or tomorrow in order to set up an overnight delivery for my medication! Super frustrating to have to do all this but at least it is done now. That means that all my communications that happened with friends and family after the 10 phone calls were very confusing because I had used up my brain power and patience getting the medications on track!

Since then I have been feeling really well. The pair of shots have left me a bit sore, so comfy pants are on order today. I may be a little more tired than usual but not significantly. I did feel some slight soreness in my back, but that seems to have passed. I call this a major win. I have meds working on kicking cancer’s and my butt, yet so far, no significant side effects!