Last Wednesday was my third chemo session, and I was feeling pretty good leading up to it. For the past couple of weeks I'd been trying to make more of an effort to eat healthy. I typically am a pretty healthy eater (I'm a vegetarian and everything), but the funny thing about my cancer diagnosis is that I found myself eating out a lot. Go figure. My parents are obviously visiting a lot more often, and it's just easier to go out to eat rather than eat in my tiny (but lovable) apartment, and I've been going out a lot with friends too. And when I wasn't going out to eat I was being kind of lazy about eating at home, just making something easy but not necessarily healthy.
But finally I decided it was time to get back on track, and I even tried out a new recipe in my Eating Well Through Cancer cookbook (black bean salad - pretty good). Yes, there is such a thing as a "cancer cookbook," and I now own one. It was sent to me by a nurse who works as part of a patient services program run by my insurance company. Really, the recipes are just normal stuff anyone can eat, but they're divided into chapters that address how you may want or need to eat depending on your treatment - for example, if you have neutropenia (low white blood cell count, which can happen on chemo), you are not supposed to eat raw fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood because they can be harbingers of bacteria which you might not be able to fight off. So the recipes in that chapter are all good things to eat if you have neutropenia, but really can be eaten at any time.
Anyway, I was getting my healthy eating back on track and I even took advantage of the spring weather last weekend and went for a 3+ mile run along my usual route in Hoboken which takes me along the water with beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline. It was the first time I'd really worked out since my diagnosis, and even though it wasn't the fastest I've ever run, it felt pretty good.
My re-focused effort on being healthy paid off as I was down a pound when they weighed me during vitals. Woohoo!
Then it was time to see Dr. Sara. I was looking forward to my appointment because I was hoping I'd get a better idea of how much further I need to go with the chemo. I've been wondering about this because before treatment started, he said I would need between 4 and 6 treatments, depending on how things were going. On the one hand, I speculated that I might only need 4 since things were going so well, but on the other hand part of me figured that if the tumor was shrinking but not completely gone after 4, he might give me more to try to completely get rid of the tumor since I've been tolerating the chemo so well.
I've been very aware of the fact that I can still feel a denseness in my breast - it is not nearly as big as it was before this whole thing started, but it's still there. So I've been telling myself that "it's not all gone yet" and I shouldn't get too ahead of myself. When Dr. Sara examined me, he explained that when the chemo destroys the cancer, it is not normal breast tissue that returns - it gets replaced with scar tissue, which is more dense than normal breast tissue. So, it's possible that what I am feeling is scar tissue! (Or at least part of it may be.) That made me feel good because I was convinced that any denseness meant the cancer is still there, and that might not necessarily be the case.
We won't know for sure until I have a bunch of tests after my next chemo. My next treatment is scheduled for April 14th. Two weeks after that - April 28th - I am scheduled for a breast MRI and PET/CT scans, which will tell not only how much - if any - cancer remains in my breast, but also in my liver. About a week after my tests I will go back to Dr. Sara for the results, and that is when I will find out if I need more chemo or if I'm ready for surgery. Let me tell you, I will have that day circled in red on my calendar!
After my exam, I settled into the infusion suite. There were some technical difficulties in getting my IV started - as per usual, the nurse first put it in the side of my wrist, but for some reason no blood was coming out (my Mom joked that I must have left all my blood at home). So the nurse had to take out the IV and put in a new one in the back of my hand. Really, I think it was just a desperate attempt by the needle stick gods to try to up their count - they must have noticed that boob flashes are really starting to run away with the lead so they were trying to do anything they could to keep it a tight race. A futile attempt though, as there were three boob flashes that same day! Needle sticks just can't seem to gain any ground, I guess.
Once the IV was up and running, Quincy came over for a visit. Turns out he has his own card - like a baseball card, but for a dog! Check it out:
Isn't he cute?