Friday, May 25, 2012

The Adventures of Chemo Brain!

Things have been pretty quiet around these parts of blog land. Which basically translates to: Round 4 of the AC drug treatment I received for chemo completely suuuucccckkkkked and kicked my butt! I mean like reeeally reeeally did a number on me. Not just physically... emotionally and mentally I was a complete wreck this last one. I thought the rounds before sucked... but this one proved how much more chemo could bulldoze me.

But praise be! I am half way done now!

Now for the Taxol drug next Tuesday and for 4 more treatments. I hear it is going to be better and nausea shouldn't really be an issue. The side effects I hear of are things like: neuropathy in the hands and feet which can be quite painful apparently, nail soreness, and just over all tiredness. And that the thrush in my throat may continue as well.

There is also a potential for allergic reaction with the Taxol drug so they are IV-ing me up with my 'favourite' steroid! The dreaded Dex. This stupid green pill F's me up! My fellow cancer babe Kristy can relate. I shouldn't really complain because I only take it for 4 days of treatment... but for the next four rounds I will be getting it in IV form too pre-treatment. I am hoping it doesn't totally mess with me as all the chemo and anti-nausea drugs did this last time.

Speaking again of last round... I had another hospital visit where I had a fever again. This time with a wicked headache... the headaches this round have been bad and my cookoo chemo fog brain was completely fearful as to why I was having these horrible head pains. Had a super super nice doctor in emergency at St. Mary's and she offered to schedule a CT for me this week. All went well and my fears were put to rest. So relieved!

I think that fear is one of the toughest things to deal with through this cancer and chemo crap. Because the drugs totally mind-f*%# with you and you are totally not yourself. You are irrational, paranoid, easily set off, anxious and stressed out. This makes for some fun times for Mikey! He is now pro at 'talking me down' from being convinced that MORE is wrong with me.

But it's hard to relax and not be paranoid. How, when you feel so shitty and not yourself, do you think rationally? How do you not worry and fear the worst when you feel a sharp pain in your chest? Or when your ribs hurt? Or when you feel something dagger-like deep in where you used to have a boob? How do you NOT freak out and fear for recurrence?

This fear consumes me when I am in the thick of the chemo fog. I am convinced at the time that something else is wrong. It is so hard to pick myself out of this and just breathe. At the time I feel so hopeless and like this time is going to be forever. There is no end in sight... even though there is. But at the time I just wallow and curl up with sad music. And Abber. Haha... I laugh at the sight of this now. I may look peaceful and all relaxed... but do not be deceived! I am clinging to my cat because I am jealous of her. I think I actually said to Mike that I wanted to actually be Abber instead of myself because cats have it so easy. Hehe... Clearly was not thinking straight Ashley!

So by day 8 or 9 now I begin to feel a little bit more human. My mind returns and I am a little bit less emo and nutty. This does take time however... because even though I am starting to actually feel more like myself with how I think... my body is still suffering. Hot flashes have really been keeping me up at night. And bone pain is settling in a lot after the Neupogen injections I get 8 days in a row. I ache all over. I also have had some serious acid reflux due to some of the drugs. I have never had this before in my life and can't stop the burning in my throat or burping constantly after each meal no matter how many tums or other prescribed anti-acid drugs I take. So annoying and un-lady-like!! Gross, hey?

Haha whine whine whine right? Oh well, I'm allowed. Going through this warrants me a bit of a bitch fest about all of the side effects. Cause they suck!!!

So what about all the good stuff that has been making me see the light lately?

I can't say enough how grateful I am for the support first of all. The phone calls, check-in emails, the texts, the cards, flowers, post cards from people I don't even know! All you awesome soup bringers, my 'Day 2 - 4' babysitters, my Relay for Life runners/walkers, the music and movies on disc providers, my chauffeurs who take me to appointments, distant healers, the professional photo session offerings for Mike and I, visits from friends I havent seen in ages, Kristy my cancer babe xxoo, Laureen my breast cancer friend who reassures me with positive email updates, my new peer support girl in Toronto, all of the prayers and people out there sending me good thoughts! All of this encouragement seriously helps me. It makes me feel so supported. If I didn't have this from everyone I would seriously be down in the dumps.

I would love to list off every person individually but I think would accidentally leave someone out... although I know at this point I could easily blame that on chemo brain. It makes me super forgetful! And I notice now when I write that my spelling is awful too! I type 'whether' instead of 'weather', randomly put 'ing' on the ends of things, and had to think about how to spell the work 'escalate' the other day. Good thing blogger has spell-check for this post ;)

But again... the support I get from people is amazing. I want to especially acknowledge how much the donations I received helped me through. Because of those I was able to continue with some therapy work I was doing with my amazing Life Coach... K - I don't even know if you'll see this - but I freaking LOVE you! Without the personal growth work I was doing with this amazing lady I would have had a very difficult time making it through those first four months. Thanks to A.S. for putting me on to her (miraculously and serendipitously 3 weeks before I even found the lump... it could not have been better timing!). The donations I received really helped me continue to do this life-changing work. On top of that I was also able to afford to work with an incredible energy healer twice a month as well. She really has been helping me get through the rough patches on a deeper more cellular and energetic level. So thank you guys SO SO SO very much for making this possible for me through those donations!

One person I really want to put in the spot light because she has been such an inspiration for me through this is my Mamka (Grandma in Slovak) aka Julie Doyle/Julia Shelling... Not only did she go through this whole breast cancer bullsh*t 12 years ago, she's had several hip surgeries in the last few years, is in her early 80s and totally doing awesome. She is a huge inspiration to me! And she is SO cute!! Anyone who has met her knows what I am talking about.

My Mamka breezed through chemotherapy when she had her cancer scare and today she is doing SO well despite still working at getting her walking speed completely back from surgery. This does not stop her from being the social butterfly that she is. When I stayed with her in New West during my IVF treatments we would walk up 6th street and not be able to get more than one block without her being stopped by someone she knew. Every cross walk we came to someone would stop her or call her name. There was always someone waving at her and then at the mall she always has a whole group of friends to introduce me to. This women is popular! I felt I was walking with a celebrity and I was her bodyguard or something.

And she's always going to concerts and events. She's super stylish and classy and wears cute hats. There's always something on her calendar. And her phone!!! It doesn't stop! Don't get me started about how many times that phone rings in one day! She even has a cell phone too and knows how to use it. She's up with the times and lately talks about wanting an iPad. Some people might wonder why a sweet little 80-someting year old women would want an iPad...

Mamka: "So I can google" and the classic... "Oh and so I can look up stuff about Bieber."

Yes. You heard it right. My Mamka is very much a fan of Justin Bieber. Actually she loves him. I remember one day last year she phoned me on a Sunday and asked me what I thought of Bieiber and I didn't even know who he was at the time. She informed me about his music and that he was just on Saturday Nigh Live the night before and how cute he was and what a great kid he is. Never mind the fact that she stays up late enough each weekend to actually watch SNL... that's a common occurrence for my Grandma! She's just cool like that!

At one point when I was living with her in March and my hair cut was pixie short she actually turned to me and said I looked like Justin Bieber.

Mamka: "Ya... your hair....It's just like Bieber's hair! Maybe that's why I like him so much... cause he looks like you!"

Thanks for that Mamka.

Then there was the random panic one day in the elevator going back to her apartment...

Mamka with her eyes bugging out:  "It's almost 4 o'clock!!! We've got to hurry because it's Justin Bieber's birthday!! He's on Ellen today!! We've got to hurry up!"

Ahhhhh Mamka.... She is my comic relief. I just love her! I am always entertained by the stuff she comes up with. She says stuff like "I miss us 'hanging out' and 'that's...coool'. She is just simply the cutest Mamka ever.

OK - Quick!! - someone get her an iPad as a delayed Mother's Day present so she can read my blog! hehe - jk. No seriously... do it ;)

Now that I have introduced the cuteness that is my sweet and hiliarious Slovak Mamka I can now blog about any more comical stuff she makes me laugh with. I wish everyone could just meet her so they would see how amazing she is.

Thanks Mamka for being so awesome, inspiring and funny! You're one special lady :)


  1. Ash, I am bringing your Mumka a copy of this blog entry. Your dad messaged me about this entry. I told Mum(ka) about it; said I'd print it one day (tough to view on my Blackberry... I agree, she needs an iPad). I've seen her a couple times since you wrote it, but my workplace and work retreat kept me hopping throughout the past 10 days, and I couldn't get everything organzied. Tonight (June 5) is the night I will finally bring it to her. NOTE: I am also bringing her a copy of that story about the man from Slovakia who donated that giant sum to cancer reasearch. I read most of it to her, but the picture was too small to appreciate on my device.

  2. Oh Ash, you aren't the only person I know who wishes to be Abber!