Bad News, Good News, Silver Lining News

Bad News: Today was supposed to have been my 5th of 6 chemo infusions. However, I have not yet recovered from the last round of chemo (three  F-bomb weeks ago!). As a consequence, my Oncologist and I decided (everything is a joint decision with him – as it should be!) that I need another week to recover.  I have to tell you that it was kind of like a snow day from school (on a day with an Exam!). Though the days will need to be made up at the end of the year, it’s all about the relief of the here and NOW (Silver Lining).

Good news: I have had four treatments of the strongest, toughest, most aggressive chemo treatments for FBC (SL). This is good news.  Really good news.  It means that I have been very well treated and now, we just need to make a plan to get my bony tush to the FINISH line – in one piece!

Silver Lining News: We are changing the remainder of my chemotherapy regimen altogether with the goal of making life livable while continuing to eradicate FBC.

To begin with, we are going to eliminate Taxotere from this point forward. This is seriously awesome news! My Oncologist believes that this is the drug that is causing most of my severe problems. I have literally had ALL of the side effects of Taxotere, including:

Nausea; constipation; diarrhea; fatigue and weakness; dizziness; hair loss; increased tear production; loss of appetite; mild pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site; muscle or joint pain;  numbness, tingling, pain, burning, or weakness in the hands, arms, legs, or feet; taste changes; vomiting; color changes of the toenails or fingernails…and that’s not even the worst of it!

So, the plan is that I am going to have ONE more dose of Adriamycin combined with Cytoxan (instead of two).

As you may recall (or NOT!), Adriamycin is a type of anthracycline antibiotic and anti-tumor drug that fights cancer by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells. This drug gets inside the DNA of cancer cells and prevents cell replication by inhibiting protein synthesis. Adriamycin also forms oxygen free radicals (NOT a SL!) which can result in heart and circulatory damage.

Cytoxan works on cancer cells by damaging their RNA or DNA when they are in their resting phase (not dividing). Because Cytoxan causes breaks in the DNA of cancer cells, they can’t keep dividing, and they die. This drug will also affect normal cells, but will have less affect on those cells, since they divide more slowly and are better able to fix DNA breaks than cancer cells. Some of your normal cells that will be affected include: blood, mouth tissue, digestive tract and hair follicles.

After this dose of AC (which is not that it will be nothing, but it will be better than the TAC-Taxotere/Adriamycin/Cytoxan-combination that I have been receiving) I will switch to weekly, low doses of a drug called Taxol.

Taxol is called a mitotic inhibitor. Cells grow by a process called mitosis (cell division). Taxol targets rapidly growing cancer cells, sticks to them while they are trying to divide, and prevents them from completing the division process. Since the cancer cells cannot divide into new cells, it can’t grow and metastasize. The downside is neurological toxicity, which will likely manifest itself as numbness and tingling in my hands and feet (which is another side effect that I have already had!).

This is a huge Silver Lining plan for several reasons:

  1. Though I will have weekly doses of chemotherapy (rather than every three weeks as I had been receiving) AND I will have to go a little longer than April 12th (my original last dose date), it is very, very likely that with this plan, my body will be much more able to tolerate the drugs and I may be able to leave Isolation Island for GOOD.
  2. After doing the math, my Oncologist believes (as do I!) that this plan is consistent with good oncology.  At the end, I will still have received the cumulative amount of drugs needed to eliminate FBC from my body.
  3. I will no longer have to take the steroids. I had to take them to offset (supposedly) the side effects of the Taxotere.  The steroids were horrendous.  Absolutely awful.  I actually came to dread their side effects as much as I dreaded the chemo itself.

After leaving the appointment with my Oncologist, tears of relief and joy streamed down my face (SL).  I see this as a major, pivotal turning point in this treatment process.  I envision myself being able to regain a certain semblance of my life.  I am over-the-moon thrilled!

Because I am still so wiped out, I came home and proceeded to take a gigantic snooze.  However, when Finally Five came in and woke up, I had renewed physical, emotional and spiritual energy.

Finally Five and The HOTY (a/k/a Husband of the Year) then had the most glorious, SL afternoon. First, went to Tinkers in Summerland to get a chocolate malt and then to play at a playground at the beach.  Then, we had a delicious family dinner out. A perfect way to end what has been a truly Silver Lined day.

Yes, some days, one MUST have dessert BEFORE dinner!

A flower from the park

Finally Five coloring intently. I am enjoying every last minute of her fat pads and dimples on her fingers!

Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.

– Seneca

Leave a comment


  1. Meika says

    Fat pads?! Love them! Your pictures are beautiful Hol and your words inspiring. Through this you are courageous and full of vigor.

  2. Kim says

    This is my first look at your blog and it caught my eye as I'm a survivor too. I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in August 2008. It was a tough year. The toughest of my life. I have a great husband and three beautiful daughters who are my world and with them I made it through. It slowly gets better and life slowly creeps back in and I've learned to live my life differently and try to live each day fully. I wasn't able to do it on my own though and therapy helped me to regain my confidence and passion for life. Remember that it is after the treatments and doctors have faded away that the true fight begins… to find yourself in a more meaningful and deeper way. You can do it and remember you are never alone and always seek help from others on the journey back.

  3. diane says

    Oh, I can relate, tomorrow is my first treatment since Dec and right now I'm wide awake on the steroids, which eradicate my back and neck pain from arthritis, so I don't hate them! The last two months have been gifts as I feel completely myself. Today I had a CT and am praying that everything is still under control so that I can continue my 4 week schedule and not have to go back to 3.
    Sounds like as usual you found your SL and had a wonderful day with your family….I'm so happy for you and can't wait to see you!