Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Can You Say Paclitaxel?

Here are the rules for Haiku, a form of Japanese poetry, courtesy of Wiki:

Use of three (or fewer) lines of 17 or fewer syllables;
Use of a season word;
Use of a cut.

Here I go.

Summer of Paclitaxel
  drips to Fall
the surgeon's knife is hungry.

Count it yourself, exactly 17 syllables.

Let's try Dr. Suess' poetic meter.

Beware the slimy paclitaxel,
that poisonous she,
numbing fingers and toes,
devouring locks if need be.

How'd I do?

As a recent graduate of eight weeks of AC boot camp, I am now qualified for the next phase of combat, I mean chemo; can you say paclitaxel?  Tomorrow at ten a.m. I will be back in the chair.  Cue violins please.

The good news? A little over an hour each time, instead of four.

The bad news? Weekly now, every Friday for 12 weeks.

The ugly?  Keep reading.  Whistle the theme from the movie while you read.

Paclitaxel is the generic name for a drug called Taxol.  According to the website "" here's what we have to look forward to.  What am I talking about, here's what I I I I I have to look forward to.  You just get to watch.

Common side effects for patients taking Taxol (occurring in over 30% of patients):

•Low blood counts. Your white and red blood cells and platelets may temporarily decrease. This can put you at increased risk for infection, anemia and/or bleeding.

•Hair loss

•Arthralgias and myalgias, pain in the joints and muscles. Usually temporary occurring 2 to 3 days after Taxol, and resolve within a few days.

•Peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling of the hands and feet)

•Nausea and vomiting (usually mild)


•Mouth sores

•Hypersensitivity reaction - fever, facial flushing, chills, shortness of breath, or hives after Taxol is given. The majority of these reactions occur within the first 10 minutes of an infusion. Notify your health care provider immediately (premedication regimen has significantly decreased the incidence of this reaction).

The following are less common side effects (occurring in 10-29%) for patients receiving Taxol:

•Swelling of the feet or ankles (edema).

•Increases in blood tests measuring liver function. These return to normal once treatment is discontinued. (see liver problems).

•Low blood pressure (occurring during the first 3 hours of infusion).

•Darkening of the skin where previous radiation treatment has been given (radiation recall - see skin reactions).

•Nail changes (discoloration of nail beds - rare) (see skin reactions).
No, say it isn't so, not my nails, first my hair now my beautiful long nails!

Don't you love the part where they say nausea and vomiting, usually mild.  Like mild makes it better.

Eff you man.  Sorry.  There I go all Richard Pryor again.  I should just start calling that RP when I go all RP.
Can't wait everybody.  Woo hoo.  Ice cream and cakey cake...
Let me tell you about a little book that has been a lifesaver for me.  It's a cute little paperback called "Chemo Companion Pocket Guide" written by Jean Sprengel, M.D and Lanette Sprengel Mohr.  I highly recommend it for its accurate portrayal of what's ahead with chemo.  Throughout the book are little tips from former chemo patients. I have consulted that little book many many mucho mucho times.
Ok so I think I'm ready for a wig.  I am getting very bored with wrapping scarves.  I've got it down baby, even putting little pins on the scarf and all kinds of torques on the twist.  I need a new look though, I'm getting bored with me.  Not to mention, when you go out in a scarf, you are always the cancer lady or the sick lady.  People can tell I don't have hair and it sure gets old, all their pity.

Rule Number Three, I don't know if this is where I left off, so humor me.  When you are talking to somebody with cancer, don't start going into all your cancer stories about all the people you ever knew who had cancer and all the people you knew who died from cancer and all your stories that you naively think might help when all they do is MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE SHIT.

What do you say?

You say "How are you doing?"  Or "How are you feeling?"  Or you say something nice like "You look great" or "I admire your positive attitude" or "Your nails look nice."

I don't even want to hear the old "everything will be ok" unless you are a psychic, a gypsy, a fortune teller or God.

I just want to hear that you love me, you are here for me, and give me presents.  Ok, I just threw in that last part about the presents.

Comments on my blog are like opening presents.  I like those.  Thank you kind kind people who write lovely things to me.  I hear you.  Thank you thank you.  It's like eating an eclair without all the calories.  More eclairs please.

People with cancer needs lots of hugs and lots of encouragement and lots of silence, opening up a space so they can talk or not talk, just knowing you are there come what may.

Gee, everybody needs that, don't they?

I vow to give more hugs, way more encouragement, and a lot less talking and a lot more listening.

See that blank space up there?

That was me, listening.

Say somethin.


The Bandit said...

Dear Kissin' Cousin,
It was so good to see you on Monday! I have missed you. I wanted you to know that your blog is part of my morning ritual. I grab my coffee, click on Favorites, and read! Sending lots of love and good thoughts your way!
The Bandit

Anonymous said...

Here I am for you alot more laughting and hugging.Thank you for making my day when you come in with your contageous laught and your beautiful smile. I Love you!!!


Anonymous said...

ok, so I am not sure how this works, commenting on a blog you posted so many months ago. Will you even know that I did? I had to start reading your blog from the beginning. The very beginning. Because that is where my cancer journey begins. At the beginning. Your humor, honestly, musing, poingnant (I give up on the spelling but not on the use of the word) insights, medical information, tips, heartaches, joys are all so heart felt. You are helping me so much. thank you. Desertpirate.

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