Tripping on Taxol Terror (Or, finding my way off the pre-chemo ledge while everyone else is road-tripping)

First of all, can I just whine a little bit and say that while there is no good time to deal with cancer, summer is particularly crappy if you have the road-tripping gene like I do. I have spent the past few weeks seeing everyone off on their trips, perusing my own  trip photos from last summer and longing to hit the road myself. (And let me just say how strange it is to look at photos of me from a year ago at this point – is that really me??) Ah…nothing like the 6am post-tent-sleep photo-op. I do long for the feeling that can only be achieved after sleeping outside. Next year.

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For now, I will plan for next year’s trips. All signs are telling me that trips will be possible, which I guess when you put it in perspective, is not something I was really believing just a few short months ago.

Two days ago marked Chemo #5 for me. This meant the first dose of Taxol, which basically snapped me back to the state I was in prior to Chemo #1. The fear with this one was again the unknown – this time about whether or not I was going to fall into the 10% of people who react to this medication, or rather the agent in which it is packed – something about the Yew tree. I am riddled with allergies, and I’ve certainly never met a tree to which I didn’t react. I have allergies across the board – environmental, food, stings, you name it. I have epipens littered all over my house, all with varying long-expired dates stamped on their sides, I will admit. So for me, it was almost a definite. I was obviously going to react to this medication, and I had myself in such a state leading up to this treatment that I’m fairly certain there are friends and family questioning my mental health at this point. I tried getting the drug changed. I thought about hitting the road and just plain old opting out. The fight or flight instinct is a pretty powerful phenomenon. When I shared what was happening in my body (hands and feet freezing cold, filled with the instinct to flee, etc) with one friend of mine, his response was a good one: “Fight is all you got. now do it.” Excellent advice.

Another good friend helped in many ways that day – it takes some pretty bang-on instincts to know that showing up and helping me cook breakfast (with music!) at 7am would be a pretty good way to lead me into this treatment. Happy place found, belly full, sufficiently caffeinated and then subsequently Ativan-ed, I headed in and started what turned out to be a perfectly uneventful but marathon-like chemo session, starting at 8:30 and ending close to 4 in the afternoon. And even with all the Benadryl and Ativan on board, I think I only napped for about 20 minutes. Can I just say thank you to my support system? Five down. Three to go.

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The side effects to this drug are different, and I am feeling a few of them already – again, though, nothing unmanageable. Nail beds feel a little bruised, body a little achy. But I feel like I’ve started the home stretch. I know it’s going to get ugly before it gets better – prepping myself to say goodbye to eyebrows and lashes, bracing myself for the fatigue that I know is more and more likely to hit – but I’m starting to feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

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5 thoughts on “Tripping on Taxol Terror (Or, finding my way off the pre-chemo ledge while everyone else is road-tripping)

  1. thanks for the blog, I am the daughter and support system for my mum who has just finished all treatments and is moving forward. I recognize each of the challenges you are facing, and remember it all to well. Other than the ongoing neuropathy, my mum’s hair is back and as beautiful as it was before, nails are getting there and her attitude has never changed. All the best on your journey!

    • Thanks for taking the time to read, Gail, and I know I speak for your mom when I say how much your support means to her. Looking forward to getting to the other side of this!

  2. Well, so far Tanya, each journey has been better than you expected so I’m expecting the same for the rest of the therapy. The lady (Gail) surely does give encouragement. Make sure all your camping gear is in excellent condition because, as old Willy sings, “On the Road Again!” and you will be ❤ U

  3. hey there! Of course I read ur blog on the regular so I can get a little glimpse of my fate- haha! I’m dreading loosing my eyelashes-more than my hair. I had my first Taxol treatment today and u are so right about it being a marathon! Not to mention I had to go to the bathroom like 5x. You are looking great my friend 🙂 xoxo

    • We are on such a similar path! Interesting though – both of my parents have said I even sound different than while on the ‘red devil’. I am tired, but I don’t feel quite as toxic – curious to know if you feel the same.

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