So, I was opposed to chemotherapy. Who isn’t? I am not ashamed to say I’m mostly opposed to chemo because I don’t want to lose my freaking hair!!!! I think it’s crazy that medicine still can’t figure out how to prevent hair loss in chemotherapy. Like WTF? It’s barbaric, especially when coupled with losing a breast, it’s an assault to your femininity. I love my hair and my boobs. I think those are the only two things on my body I’ve never complained about. And now cancer is like, well, that’s gonna change!
So anyways, suffice it to say I tried really hard to justify not doing chemotherapy. My oncologist is awesome and though he recommended CMF chemo + 5 years tamoxifen from the beginning, he still humored me in my quest to research/test my way out of it. I did two tests, OncoDx and the Mammoprint. My OncoDx score was a twenty, just a hair above the low risk score and on the low end of intermediate risk for recurrence. On the Mammoprint test, I was on the high end of low risk. If I had come out on the low end of “low risk” on the Mammoprint, I probably would have foregone chemo, but, I was not. When I saw the score, I was finally like okay, can’t justify it.
While I was eagerly awaiting the results of my Mammoprint test, I did a lot of research and I have provided links below to a couple articles which I found helpful. If you’re the researching type and find yourself in a similar position of deciding to do chemo or not, I have pasted a few article links below in addition to clinical studies to read about:
If you can’t get to the article by clicking the hyperlink, Google the title and click on it. You should be able to access.
ASCO on Ovarian Suppression in Young Cancer Patients: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/859195
Gene Tests Identify Breast Cancer Patients Who Can Skip Chemotherapy, Study Says http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/science/gene-tests-identify-breast-cancer-patients-who-can-skip-chemotherapy-study-says.html?_r=0
So, I am doing CMF chemotherapy. The drugs that are included in that regimen are:
- 5 fluorouracil (aka 5FU)
In my opinion, there isn’t that much great info online. But I found this site from the UK to be somewhat helpful.
My regimen is 6 total infusions, once every 3 weeks. I should be done by end of December if I can stick to my schedule.
This chemotherapy is a precautionary measure to decrease the chance of cancer metastasis—ie, cancer cells from my breast having escaped into my bloodstream and implanting themselves in other unsavory parts of my body including bone, liver or lungs.
This type of chemo does not provide guaranteed hairloss. More likely, I will just experience “thinning.” To what extent remains to be seen, though I did insist yesterday that the nurse write a prescription for a wig, just in case.
My brother came with me to my first session. I don’t recommend going alone. Brother is a pretty even keel guy. Nothing really phases him, so he was a good person to take—that and the fact he’s my brother. lol
I can pretty much say I was without a doubt the youngest person in the “chemo room” by decades. They were playing 80s music in a room with a pharmacy counter surrounded by reclining chairs on the perimeter and random mannequin heads with wigs . I told Alex, “I don’t like the music.” I HATE 80s music (sorry if that offends!). His response: “Yeah, Elyse, I don’t think this is really your crowd.”
I was super anxious. The nurses administering the chemotherapy were amazing though. They didn't even get annoyed when I asked dumb, but very necessary questions like:
Me: "Has anyone ever died while receiving chemotherapy?"
Me: "I read online that the average person gets 6 cavities after chemo. Is that true??? Will I get a bunch of cavities?
Nurse: "I've never heard of someone getting that many cavities after chemo."
And on it went.
They did administer some anti-anxiety medication in my pre chemo infusions.
To clarify, when I say “infusion” I’m not sure that’s the right word. I received all my drugs through an IV.
The whole chemo administration process took about two hours. Not too bad. Afterwards, me and Alex went and got awesome sandwiches from a great deli, then I went home and just relaxed for the rest of the day and casually worked from home. It was a Friday.
This morning, as I’m writing this, I don’t feel too many side effects, except maybe some general tiredness, fatigue and lower back pain. I think the lower back pain part is a personal side effect. Whenever I get tired like this I have lower back pain it’s weird.
Anywhoo, I keep telling boyfriend Matt that I’m already losing my hair. I kind of freaked out this morning. I just keep noticing hairs everywhere! Though I do have a lot of hair so I think I’m just being paranoid.
I will say, I drank about 10 tall glasses of water yesterday after my chemo session. I was going pee all day and all night. That was my goal. I think it may have helped? Not sure since I don’t have anything to compare it to. I am continuing to drink a lot of fluids today, though I am getting pretty sick of water.