9:30 this morning I meet Mom at The Blood Guy’s office. They have had computer problems for a week and the front receptionist can’t find me in the schedule. I quickly listen to my messages from Rhonda (she’s great, she rambles messages like I do) AND I didn’t have an appointment at 9:30! I had gotten my days mixed up but I needed to see him because I still wasn’t sure what I was starting today at 3:00.
The Blood Guy decided on an oral chemotherapy agent called Xeloda. He really looked at my lifestyle and wants me out of the infusion room as much as possible. He is confident I will be able to handle the side effects. Xeloda is used for the treatment of several types of cancers including mine:
- breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and has not improved after treatment with other medicines such as paclitaxel (Taxol®) and anthracycline-containing medicine such as Adriamycin™ and doxorubicin. (www.genentech.com)
I will take I believe 8 pills a day and will focus on preventing the myriad of side effects.
- The most common side effects of Xeloda are: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sores in the mouth and throat (I’m not a fan of this one), stomach area pain (abdominal pain), upset stomach, constipation, loss of appetite, and too much water loss from the body (dehydration). These side effects are more common in patients age 80 and older. Other common side effects are hand-and-foot syndrome (palms of the hands or soles of the feet tingle, become numb, painful, swollen or red)(this one makes me super nervous too); rash; dry, itchy or discolored skin; nail problems; hair loss; tiredness; weakness; dizziness; headache; fever; pain (including chest, back, joint and muscle pain); trouble sleeping; and taste problems. Patients must tell their doctor if they have heart problems because they could have more side effects related to their heart. (www.genentech.com)
I will also receive Zometa for my bones. This is an infusion once a month. It will help my bones get stronger not allowing the lesions to form.
- Bone complications from certain metastatic cancers that have spread to the bone—including breast, lung, and prostate cancer,* used with anti-cancer medications. (www.zometa.com)
And the side effects from this treatment.
- Common side effects for patients with multiple myeloma and bone metastases due to solid tumors include bone pain, nausea, fatigue, anemia, fever, vomiting, constipation, shortness of breath, diarrhea, weakness, muscle pain, anorexia, cough, joint pain, lower-limb swelling, worsening of your cancer, headache, dizziness (excluding vertigo), insomnia, decreased weight, back pain, numbness/tingling, and abdominal pain. These side effects are listed regardless of any potential association with the medications used in registration studies of ZOMETA in bone metastases patients.
- Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) has been reported mainly in cancer patients treated with intravenous bisphosphonates, including ZOMETA. (While this is rare, it terrifies me)
After my appointment, I rushed home and started looking at prices for Xeloda. Ummm wow is all I can write right now. Since Shauna was still unable to walk and I was not getting infused chemo today, I told Mom to stay with her and help out. I’ll be fine. I called my girl Megs and she took me to my bone infusion treatment at Renown.
The Infusion Center is really nice. 2 years ago when I was touring facilities deciding where I would get chemo this part of the hospital was under construction, obviously getting a new face-lift. I was uncomfortable with the surroundings at that time and chose St. Mary’s for my day long treatments. The wall of windows looking out at the beautiful mountains also helped draw me into that facility. The Infusion Center at Renown rivals SMRMC now. There is privacy, room for families to sit, lunch or snacks are provided if needed and so far the staff can handle me!
We got to the infusion center and at first they thought my appointment had been cancelled but I explained my Abraxane had been cancelled not my Zometa treatment. We got that corrected and was moved to my cubicle and got comfy Megs sitting next to me. My nurse was sweet and the CNA’s who took my vitals cracked me up! I also got to meet my nurse navigator Georganna, she goes by George. This was meant to be! I told her my car was named George the 2nd, we giggled and she helped me with some financial applications.
My infusion wasn’t very long, roughly 2 hours. My next one is in a month and I start my chemo pills on Friday. With this first bone treatment, I might have flu like symptoms over the next 4 days but we’ll see.
Thank you to all of my co-workers, my medical team, friends and family that have helped me the past several weeks. I couldn’t have gotten this far without your love and support!
And To God: Please let my hair fall out instead of hand-foot syndrome, mouth sores and osteonecrosis of my jaw. Amen.