Special thank you to my sister, Diann, for writing this Blog Post to share her experiences with Taxol during her 5 months of chemotherapy for Stage 3 Breast Cancer. She had her last Taxol on October 20, 2015 Denise
First, I would like to thank all the women out there who have written Denise, my sister, about my breast cancer diagnosis and sent your prayers and support. It means so much to me! This road is only understood by someone who has walked the same road! I told Denise I thought I understood breast cancer treatment because I watched her go through treatment. Going through it myself, I realize I had LESS THAN a 5% understanding of what extreme suffering a breast cancer patient goes through!
When my sister first asked me to write a blog post about my experiences with Taxol, I was a little hesitant as I had never written a blog post. But, I will give it a shot. These are my experiences with Taxol (Paclitaxel)- I had the 12 weekly dose version as my Oncologist said they have find there are less side effects by spreading it out.
I have found all of chemotherapy to be very trying. Adriamycin Cytoxan chemo did not treat me well. I felt like giving up. . Everyone told me Taxol would be better, and while it is better, it is not as good as I had thought it would be in my head! And because of that, I struggled with acceptance of the road I’m on.
I get chemo on Tuesdays. The thought of going and preparing for chemo is always worse than getting the actual infusion. After the infusion, I feel quite good and can go out to eat on the way home. I don’t sleep well on Tuesday nights though—I feel like I’ve had 12 cups of coffee! I’m told it’s the steroids. I am on an extremely low dose of steroids, the chemo nurses told me, however. So I am grateful for that aspect!
Wednesdays I still feel pretty good, though fatigue hits after work. On Thursdays, I wake up fatigued, but I do go to work and manage about 5-6 hours. After struggling to get home, I’m in the recliner with my feet up. It seems like I live in that recliner. Fridays and Saturdays are the same – living life from the recliner!
I watched Downton Abby, the award-winning PBS series to pass some of the time in the chair. So I pulled it up on Amazon Prime, and I watched all five seasons (like 50 episodes) in two weeks! That tells you how much sitting I do!
I did have one Tuesday when I got the flu (vomiting, diarrhea, and a low grade fever). I was seeing the doctor that day for my infusion so I went, not knowing if the side effects I was having was the flu or just a side effect of chemo. They sent me to their cancer urgent care area and gave me 2 hours of fluids and meds to stop the diarrhea. No chemo that day! And the result was after the flu passed in a couple of days, I felt better than I had in months. This was a welcome break for me.
Here are the side effects I experienced during Taxol:
Heartburn often very severe
Significant Coughing and mucous
Some nausea and gagging
Chemo rash on my face
Constipation and diarrhea
Then even MORE Fatigue
High heart rate (110+)
Elevated liver enzymes
My blood counts stayed really good throughout Taxol, so said my chemo nurses. I tried not to pay too much attention to them as it would make me feel worse! Everyone is different in this area!
My Food Cravings:
During AC – hot dogs and onion soup (salt I guess)
During Taxol – Tomatoes, watermelon, more onion soup
I’m trying to drink 68 oz of water a day (especially the 3 days following chemo) and taking a regular Claritin daily. I’m hoping the water will flush out the chemo (I hate smelling it in my urine!) and the Claritin stops the cough I developed.
I do ice my hands and feet during chemo. I did this one for my sister! I didn’t want to do it because I would have rather reclined in the chemo chair and relaxed during the chemo infusion. Denise finally convinced me it would definitely help me from losing fingernails and toenails, and maybe even help or stop neuropathy which is a common side effect of Taxol. As of my last infusion, I still have finger and toe nails with occasional numbness in my hands and feet which comes and goes. My Physician’s Assistant said it is okay if the neuropathy comes and goes, but to let her know immediately if it stays. So far, I am happy to report, it has not stayed.
Let me say I’m very happy to be closing the door on Taxol. Wiith God’s grace, I won’t be back.
My next step is Radiation. I will let you know my experiences with Radiation.