Essay Non-Fiction posted February 27, 2011 Chapters: 2 3 -4- 5... 

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What happens now?

A chapter in the book Breast Cancer Journey

Chemo - Phase Two

by barbara.wilkey

February 27, 2011

On Thursday, Phase Two of my chemo treatment reached the ten week mark. It's a milestone because I discovered if I'm finished with chemotherapy in two weeks or if I'll continue for an additional thirty weeks. I'll continue with the chemo drug Bevacizumab.

Nothing with me is ever cut and dry. A side-effect of Bevacizumab is it causes sores that won't heal. I have one of those sores on my lower back, right smack dab on my spinal column. This sore is approximately sixteen weeks old and hasn't healed. I've missed two Bevacizumab treatments, but have still received my weekly Taxol treatments.

My chemo oncologist refers to the sore as a sinus. The sinuses I know about are the ones around your nose. I've discovered a sinus can be "a channel for blood; a widen channel containing blood, especially venous blood," or "channel leading from body cavity; an elongated tract leading from a pus-filled region of the body to the exterior or to the cavity of a hollow organ."

My problem is the location, the spinal column. I get, thank Heavens, not often, a wave of pain starting from my lower back traveling up my spinal cord and ending at the base of my skull. It lasts only fifteen to thirty seconds, but it's severe. Other than this occasional pain, I don't feel the sore.

I've an appointment with a general surgeon March 24, and he'll decide if this sore is insignificant. If it is, then I'll continue with Phase Three of chemotherapy. Like I said, nothing with me is ever cut and dry. So I continue my wait.

Whether I continue with the Bevacizumab or not, in seven weeks I'll begin radiation treatment, every day for six weeks. It seems the side-effects are similar but milder than chemotherapy. The difference is my breast will feel like it's severely sunburned and the two treatments together worsen that effect.

When I met with the radiologist, she told me I'm not allowed to nude sunbathe while undergoing radiation treatment.

I laughed.

She stared.

I finally said, "I'm fifty-seven years old and bald. I've had five babies. I'm a grandmother and overweight."

She smiled. "I understand, but as soon as I don't caution somebody that would be the person who does."

Okay, she had me on that one.

As many of you know, I've been fighting fatigue and my red blood count is extremely low, side-effects of Taxol. I'm looking forward to saying good bye to that drug.

The side-effects of chemotherapy are cumulative and each week they become a little worse. On Wednesday, I went to work as normal but within two hours I required a substitute teacher and came home. I slept the rest of the day and through the night. I worked the next two days. My doctor has suggested I take a day off each week for the next two weeks, but I'm too stubborn to admit it's necessary.

I'm grateful for your prayers and well wishes as I fight this battle. I know I'm not alone. I have my family, friends, FanStory friends, and the help of the Lord and Savior who carries me when I'm not strong enough to continue.

God Bless you all.


Thank you Sarey Freeman for the lovely artwork, Shasta. I was looking for the breast cancer symbol and found this. It's a beautiful shade of pink, so I chose it.
UPDATE: since June 10, 2010
Ankle surgery, nothing to do with cancer, a torn tendon.
1st breast surgery
2nd breast surgery
Phase One Chemo - 8 weeks
Adriamycin, Cytoxian, & Bevacizumab every other week
Phase Two Chemo - 12 weeks
Taxol every week
Bevacizumab every third week
Phase Three Chemo - 30 weeks & radiation treatment daily for 6 weeks.
Bevacizumab every third week.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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