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Apr 25, 2018 09:26PM
For ladies seeking information about CMF experiences, I posted a message to another forum and thought I would share here an update on my experiences so far.
I am on CMF, 8 rounds, every three weeks. I've had 2 rounds and have my next on May 4. The infusions themselves were uneventful once the nurse got a vein, as I am hoping to avoid the port and have veins that make the phlebotomists cringe. I got steroids in my IV which hops you up for 24 hours and makes you want to eat a lot of carbs. Week 1 I feel the worst, week 2 middling, and week 3 I felt really normal and good and went to the gym twice for the first time since January. Round 1, I had unpleasant dizziness the first week, hasn't returned. Unfortunately, this round my kids brought home a 24-hour stomach bug (for them), which of course I caught and it turned into 2 days and an overnight at the cancer center hospital, because it just decimated me and I had to be treated for dehydration and electrolyte loss as well as be tested for all sorts of things. Happily resolved and I am back to "week 2 - middling" feeling. The chemo-compromised immune system is really unfortunate!
As for preparation, I think there are a few categories: emotional, body logistics, and adjusting expectations. Here's how they each struck me.
Emotional: plenty of rage at the long haul this cancer treatment process is, lots of tired of being tired, gratitude that there is a treatment that seems kind of standard and expected to be effective, and some joy at the week 3 feeling.
Adjusting expectations (especially week 1-2): do less, and then do less again. Walk more slowly. Sit on the subway always. Buy lunch at work and not feel bad that I would always pack lunch before this. Get in bed early. Take sick days at work or work from home when needed. Accept all help offered, ask for help if not. Schedule so much extra babysitting support that I never would otherwise. Ignore all messy areas of the house. Attempt no other life projects (organizing kids clothes, for example).
Body logistics: chemo seems to strike people with a lot of GI issues, either diarrhea, constipation, or both at various points, so good to stock up and have remedies for those in the house. I found Colace and Miralax useful. I also have need the dry mouth mouthwash (nurse recommended using 3-4 times/day) - Biotene or similar, and the dry mouth lozenges for sucking in between. Nausea has been controlled by the ondansetron prescription they wrote me. My hair is falling out so they suggested washing less; I am not expected to completely lose my hair and I think that's an extensive topic in itself. I found hydration very important; round 1 I felt best when I had a water bottle by my bed and drank before I even attempted to get up. Round 2 I've had less of a taste for water, drinking watered down lemonade a lot. When the steriods are in effect I want to eat a LOT, so being mindful of not doing that. When they wear off I want to eat hardly at all, so being mindful to take in small meals or snacks regularly to keep energy up. Trying to make healthy choices as when eating less, every nutrient feels important. Also have tried to take walks, however short, almost every day, as they say exercise helps battle the fatigue. Also seems like each round might feel a little different and I've been to told to expect the fatigue will be cumulative. Also expecting "chemo-pause" (night sweats, etc. as well) but haven't gotten there yet. Also I am avoiding germs as much as possible, washing hands obsessively, using hand sanitizer, and I have a good hand cream in my desk at work as my skin is crazy dry. I was told to avoid the nail salon as it's easy to catch infections in your finger/toenails. Was also told to be vigilant about sunscreen and wear hats/protective clothing as your skin is more sensitive to sun.
I hope this is helpful to my sisters in this journey!
DX'ed at age 41 on my first mammogram
1/11/2018, IDC, Right, Stage IA, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
2/6/2018 Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap
9/2018, IDC, Right, <1cm, ER+/PR+, HER2-
10/4/2018 Lumpectomy: Right
Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall