Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Red Devil

As I sit and type this I am receiving my 26th chemo infusion.  In the cancer world that may not be a lot, but to me it feels huge.  Maybe one day I will look back and laugh at my naivete. 

 I am actually proud that I can sit and type this because last month that would have been impossible.  Things have changed in my chemo cocktail mainly due to the fact that the doxil I was getting, also know as the red devil, became too toxic for me to receive anymore.

The lovely red kool aid, aka doxil.

Doxil I must say has the reputation to be a very effective, but damaging chemotherapy.  It is a large liposomal (fat like) molecule and when it travels to the extremities it can clog the vessels there and break the capillaries. This actually kills the skin and causes blisters.  It also thins the skin and makes it very susceptible to damage and rashes.  Not to mention the obvious effect almost all chemo has on the bone marrow. Not everyone suffers from these reactions  My doctor has one patient that has no adverse side effects after 20 months of doxil!  He said it is probably genetics that plays a roll in who will suffer the side effects and who won't.  There goes my lucky genes again!

Things actually went down the wrong path after the first infusion.  I had terrible, and I mean terrible mouth sores.  By the second round my bone marrow was really beginning to show fatigue.  By round I mean I would have doxil and gemzar week one, gemzar week two and avastin week three, thus making one round.  So after round two my blood counts were so low I had to have two units of blood and my second neulasta shot to stimulate my white cells.  Round three started to really show doxil toxicity.  My hands and feet were red and swollen.  I had rashes everywhere with raw exposed skin and still mouth problems persisted.  I was miserable and oddly enough incredulous.  Why incredulous?  Well, I will tell you the same thing I told my doctor.  I thought I was above all this stuff!  Maybe like we all think we won't be the one to get cancer I also thought I wouldn't suffer the side effects.  I was strong and young (relatively).  I would never need transfusions or shots.  I was invincible.  Nothing like a little bag of liquid gold to knock you on your butt.  I got told...

And yet I had another round of doxil.  On May 6th I had what would be my last doxil and the rest of the month and the first part of June were just a wash.  I absolutely couldn't eat the first week.  Food was not just unattractive, it was down right abhorrent.  Luckily, I had taken the advice of the nurse at MD Anderson and when I had felt well, I ate well.  Like chicken fried steak well. I had been like a bear fattening up for my hibernation.  I dropped 8 pounds that week, but due to my previous well balanced diet I have even more fat to spare.  lol  By day 8, when doxil peaks in the system, all the symptoms became 10 times worse and I was basically bed ridden.  I would go from the bed, to the restroom, to the couch and back to bed.  Rinse, repeat.  Everyday.  Both my hands and feet had blisters and open sores.  My elbows even had sores the size of golf balls.  Every part of my body seemed fair game.  And I mean EVERY part. I had to go get a neulasta shot because my white count was so low and for the first time I went out in public like a true cancer patient.  I had to have Devon drive me and I wore my turban, sweats and house shoes.  I wouldn't put on any kind of real shoe if you paid me.  So why did I even consider another round of doxil?  Because I had a CT scan on the the 2nd of May and everything had shrunk 30-50%.  Something was working and I didn't want to mess with success no matter how painful.  But, I was not dumb enough to believe I could do this again  I had blood and protein in my urine and Dr. Messing said enough already.  All the bad side effects you see on the outside could be doing the same to my intestines on the inside.  I had to agree.  I needed a break.

So I continued my chemo with gemar and Avastin every week and the plan is to get a scan in July and see if this regimen without doxil works.  I really think it was the doxil putting the main hit on the cancer, but we shall see.  Meanwhile I am getting ready to go to Mexico with Devon, Stanley and some friends and I can't wait!  I just want to be somewhere besides this couch! 

So appreciate all the prayers and support.  May God keep all of us safe and healthy!


  1. I'm constantly looking at ur blog for an update . Glad to see you posted again. I had my 6 month ct scan and thankfully it came back clear. I hope and pray u can get a clear scan soon also. Praying for you!

  2. Hi I hope u are doing well. I ve been checking back to see if a new blog has been put up. I truly hope that you are doing better. Please update. I'm still praying for you.