On Thursday, I had my second of twelve weekly Taxol treatments. The side effects have been mostly tolerable. The steroid, Decadron, which is taken with the Taxol, causes some unpleasant side effects though. My face, chest and arms become very red, I have trouble sleeping, I become emotional, and I become mean. Mark has given me a new nickname because of this….Decadragon. A nickname I rightfully deserve.
Chemotherapy and the drugs that you take with them effect people differently. Thankfully, like I stated above, the side effects I have been experiencing have been bearable. However, the day after I received my first Taxol treatment I woke up and noticed the left side of my chin was numb. I didn’t think too much of it, and thought it might be some type of neuropathy (often numbness or tingling in the fingers), which Taxol is notorious for. More on this later.
When I met with my oncologist, Dr. M, two weeks ago to discuss my most recent scans, and treatment options, I thought I was dealing well with the situation at hand. I was not. I explained to Dr. M how I was not feeling so positive anymore. She asked if I felt I needed to talk to a someone. At the time I said I was not sure, but Dr. M knew better. She had a social worker who works with breast cancer patients at DFCI call me. I met with the social worker on Thursday before my chemo infusion. It was a good visit.
She is a great listener, and I learned a lot about myself. I won’t get into details, but I learned what is really bothering me about my current health situation, and some things that I can do to make things better for me.
During the time I was meeting with the social worker, my oncology nurse started to access my port for blood work. We discussed side effects I had been experiencing from the Taxol and I brought up the numb chin, and how my migraines were becoming more frequent. I actually had one during my first Taxol infusion!
My oncology nurse relayed this information to Dr. M and my nurse practitioner. Soon after, my nurse practitioner came in and explained to me that the headaches and the numb chin are yellow flags, and that she and Dr. M want me to have an MRI. The MRI was scheduled for that evening. The social worker and I wrapped our session up and made an appointment to meet next week.
About 4 hours later my infusion was over and Mark and I walked over to imaging for my brain MRI. I dread having an MRI, and need the help of a little white pill called Ativan. Unfortunately, the Ativan was not taken earlier enough and I was rolled into the machine feeling quite nervous. About ten minutes into the procedure, a sense of calm took over as the Ativan finally kicked in…..thank goodness.
I knew I was feeling pretty good because all the banging noises from the MRI machine made me think of forest animals. The banging noises were the chipmunks, the clanging noises were the squirrels, the zipping noises were the skunks…..I guess you would have to have experience in an MRI machine on Ativan to completely understand.
I have not received the results yet. I was nervous and scared about having the MRI, and what the results might show. I am not anymore. You see, years ago I decided I was not going to get worked up over things I have no control over. I am once again following my advice. Whatever the results, with the guidance of my doctor, and support from family and friends, I will get through this just like I have so many times before.