On December 19th, just one day after Mom’s 79th birthday – we made our way through a snowstorm to her 4th chemo session. The day was pretty routine and everything went really smooth: (1) They put Mom’s IV line in using ultrasound (to locate the vein). They found her vein after just one try! (2) Blood was drawn to check her CA-125 – it was 17! They also drew blood to check her white blood & red blood cells, her INR and various other tests. Everything checked out okay for chemo. (3) Mom then met with Dr. Beck. She reviewed Mom’s labs and her condition. Mom had gained 7 pounds from her previous visit! (4) We then had a hurried lunch. (5) And off to chemo she went. (6) During chemo Mom met with her genetic consultant regarding the results of a test for the ovarian/breast cancer gene mutation (more on this in the next post). (7) I can’t leave out – Mom was hungry all day! Chemo lasted about 6 and 1/2 hours and then we bundled her up and drove home to tuck her in to bed.
Mom’s reaction to this last chemo session has been pretty remarkable. She didn’t suffer at all from nausea. She also had very little aches and pains in her legs and feet this go around. I think by now, most of her hair should be gone, but it isn’t. She still has hair on her head and her eyelashes and eyebrows are still there. Mom’s fingernails and toenails are still growing (a good sign). Her appetite is holding strong – she’s gradually gaining weight – thanks to my dad who brings home sweets every day and insists she eat all day long, as well as family who provide scrumptious and high calorie meals daily. She is taking all of her supplements daily and working hard to regain use of her left arm and hand (thanks to a OT schedule Amber and her dear friend Jill created). And I put her back on a physical therapy program (which she had better keep up!). Mom has of course been fatigued, but even that seems to have lessened just a bit. However, she is experiencing chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) in her hands…
CIPN defined: “The body’s nervous system is divided into two major systems; the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is also divided into two major parts, the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. The somatic nervous system consists of peripheral nerve fibers that send sensory information to the central nervous system and motor nerve fibers that send signals to skeletal muscle. The autonomic nervous system controls smooth muscle of the viscera (internal organs) and glands… Peripheral neuropathy results from some type of damage to the peripheral nerves. Certain chemotherapy drugs can cause peripheral neuropathy…” Reference: http://chemocare.com/chemotherapy/side-effects/numbness-tingling.aspx
“It usually starts in the hands and/or feet and creeps up the arms and legs. Sometimes it feels like a tingling or numbness. Other times, it’s more of a shooting and/or burning pain or sensitivity to temperature. It can include sharp, stabbing pain, and it can make it difficult to perform normal day-to-day tasks like buttoning a shirt, sorting coins in a purse, or walking. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of cancer patients treated with chemotherapy experience these symptoms, a condition called chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).” Reference: http://www.cancer.gov/aboutnci/ncicancerbulletin/archive/2010/022310/page6
Mom started going to acupuncture last week to treat her fatigue and CIPN. She’ll continue going every week through the end of treatment and most likely a little longer depending on how she is doing. She is also soaking her hands in Epsom salts and cayenne pepper. We’ll try anything! 🙂
I would like to list for you the variety of supplements Mom is taking daily: ASEA, Poly-MVA, Vitamin C, B-12, Krill Oil, CoQ10 and D-3. This is in addition to a few medications, but we believe these supplements are really really helping! This list of supplements was a combined effort by family involving research and personal experience. But I would like to add that Dr. Youngblood and my Mom’s best friend Annette have been incredible proponents of these supplements and their benefits – and so I thank them deeply for their support and insistence that Mom get on a regimen of daily supplements! Just for fun, I have included a snapshot below of a daily chart I created months ago outlining Mom’s day. Early on, Amber and I realized there is no way we will remember what Mom needs to take and when, and so this chart has evolved over the last several months. It has been an incredible daily tool!
Mom only has 2 chemo sessions left! And I have put a countdown chart on her wall to her last chemo session on January 30th – only 29 days left of treatment! It’s hard to believe we are in to the 6th month of her cancer diagnosis. I’ve included a few photos of Mom during her 4th chemo session. She actually had her sparkle back in her eyes as we went in to her 4th session (you can see it in her picture). She is a warrior!!!
Much love to you all! Please keep your prayers strong!
Putting in the IV with ultrasound for Chemo session #4
Heading in to Chemo – see the sparkle in Mom’s eyes?
Chemo #4 in session
Mom’s 24-Hour Chart