Topic: Starting Chemo in April, May, or June 2022

Forum: Chemotherapy - Before, During, and After — Regimens, side effects, and support from others going through chemo.

Posted on: Apr 29, 2022 10:44PM - edited Jun 2, 2022 11:41AM by sarahmaude

Posted on: Apr 29, 2022 10:44PM - edited Jun 2, 2022 11:41AM by sarahmaude

sarahmaude wrote:

Starting a thread for anyone starting chemo in April, May, or June 2022

I'll have my first treatment (TC) on 5/4. I'm determined and scared and hopeful for excellent results. I'll be cold capping, my adult daughter will be my assistant. I hope to be able to continue working as much as I can through treatments. I can telework as needed and have ability to flex around appointments.

Anyone else getting started around now?


Hormonal Therapy 2/17/2022 Arimidex (anastrozole) Surgery 3/31/2022 Lumpectomy (Left) Chemotherapy 5/4/2022 Taxotere (docetaxel), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) Dx IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2- Radiation Therapy Left breast
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Jul 30, 2022 12:54PM sarahmaude wrote:

How is everyone doing? I passed what would have been the three week interval for a chemo cycle, but since I’m done, I get to keep healing!

I ended up with a lot of fatigue that lasted longer than expected after my final treatment on July 6. My blood work on the 20th showed that a lot of my red blood count values were low. I kind of freaked out a little thinking I’d have to get transfusions or something, but as I saw the results on the weekend decided to give it the weekend to see if I felt better. I also added some more good dietary iron sources, both “heme” like shellfish and meat, along with non-heme such as spinach and fortified cereals. I did a lot of reading and determined that I probably wouldn’t be given iron boosting meds since we’re already treating my low Vitamin D.

I was told at my final chemo that I had low calcium. They were supposed to call in a prescription calcium supplement, but that didn’t happen. When I called the nurse on the next day they said to just add two Tums tablets per day to my existing 1650 mg I’m already taking. Of course, I go down my rabbit trail of reading about why my calcium is suddenly low, and I see that low Vitamin D is often a cause. I asked for them to test my levels, and they are indeed low. I’m now taking 8 weekly high doses of Vitamin D2 and will be retested in October.

The good news is that my energy is much improved. Still a long way from normal, but I am not having to nap during the day, and I’ve been able to shop and prepare some meals nightly this week in addition to working my telework desk job.

I started rads on Wednesday. So far so good there. First 3 of 21 sessions are complete. I have 16 whole breast treatments followed by 5 boosts to the tumor bed. I’m marking off the calendar they gave me with big Sharpie Xs.

Hormonal Therapy 2/17/2022 Arimidex (anastrozole) Surgery 3/31/2022 Lumpectomy (Left) Chemotherapy 5/4/2022 Taxotere (docetaxel), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) Dx IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2- Radiation Therapy Left breast
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Jul 31, 2022 11:34AM margecandoit wrote:

Hope everyone is doing well. I just had my second taxol treatment. The first two days are good but the third day I start having pain in my arms and leg but no tingling in my hands and feet so that’s good. Is anyone else having pain it kinda is a roaming pain also been getting like menstrual cramps. The first treatment it stopped around day 5. Wondering if this will continue for the next 10?

IDC Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, ER+, PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 5/19/2022 AC + T (Taxol)
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Jul 31, 2022 02:42PM maggiehopley wrote:

I too get the "roaming" pain and menstrual-ish cramps. Mine is very mild, like twinges or zings, but it is very weird how it jumps around from one place to another. I just finished my 10th taxol and am really struggling mentally. My tumors are still palpable, and the larger one hurts since the NP poked at it. I'm worried that these 12 weeks have just been time for the cancer to spread, since the chemo doesn't seem to have worked. They did shrink some, but I won't achieve pCR as was hoped. I have my pre-op appointment with the surgeon Monday.

Chemotherapy 5/25/2022 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 5/25/2022 Kanjinti Targeted Therapy 5/25/2022 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Dx IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2+, IHC Dx IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, ER+/PR-, HER2+, IHC
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Jul 31, 2022 06:23PM margecandoit wrote:

maggiehopley-thanks for letting me know I am not alone and this is normal. I am sorry your struggling mentally with this. I also understand the wondering if this is doing anything. I have never feel the tumor so I can’t tell if it’s getting smaller. Can’t wait for 10 more treatments and can set up surgery to get it out. Hope your Pre-op appt. Goes well and they can get you in soon.

IDC Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, ER+, PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 5/19/2022 AC + T (Taxol)
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Aug 2, 2022 11:50PM kathrynw1thasea wrote:

Hi ladies!

margecandoit - I usually have lots of energy the first couple of days after Taxol chemo day because of the steroids. By the end of the second day I start to crash and on day 3 or 4 I get knee and calf pain. The pain comes and goes but stretching helps with the muscle pain. Working the knee joint sometimes helps relieve that pain. I’m icing my hands and feet during and 20 minutes before and after the infusions. I’ve been able to avoid neuropathy from the first 9 of 12 treatments.

Sarahmaude - so glad to hear you are feeling better with more iron. Vitamin D is the only supplement my MO lets me take, so I’m glad to hear it helps with other things. I’ll be starting radiation in September, so I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you. Did they create a special body form to get you in position or use preformed “pillows”? I’ve read and heard different things.

Taxol #9 was different from the previous infusions. I found myself really going to a sad place while waiting to be called into the infusion room. I could feel my heart rate increase and I started tearing up. I was able to get it under control, but it was very upsetting. I suppose it’s pretty common after being in treatment for so long. I’ll be sure to take the Ativan before the next 3. Has anyone else experienced this and how did you get through it?

Hope everyone is doing well

Surgery 2/15/2022 Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph node removal (Left): Underarm/Axillary Chemotherapy 3/25/2022 AC + T (Taxol) Dx IDC: Papillary/IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 5/27 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Left breast, Lymph nodes Targeted Therapy 8/19/2022 Verzenio Hormonal Therapy 8/19/2022 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Aug 3, 2022 08:37AM jh40 wrote:

Hi all - hope it's ok to join up with this thread? I'm starting my first weekly Taxol + Herceptin on August 8.

Looking for some reassurance about the steroids. I have a panic disorder and am concerned that the steroids will make it hard to manage. I do have Ativan for it. My oncologist has prescribed 5mg of Dex for the first infusion, and said that if there are no reactions to the Taxol we will omit steroids altogether if I want. Has anyone done weekly Taxol + Herceptin without steroids?

Surgery 6/16/2022 Mastectomy (Right): Simple Chemotherapy 8/1/2022 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 8/1/2022 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Dx IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+, IHC
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Aug 4, 2022 09:53AM margecandoit wrote:

Kathrynw1thasea- thanks for the response that’s a good idea to stretch. I walk 3 miles Monday - Friday and the pain comes on Saturday - Monday but infusion are on Thursday so that lines up. Unfortunately my place doesn’t do iceing so I am hoping neuropathy doesn’t happen but my MO always ask if I am having numbness or tingling in my fingers and toes. So far no numbness and tingling # 3 today.

JH40- I am sorry that your going through this. I unfortunately don’t have any info on the steroid I have taken them each time. Hope someone has the answer you need.

Hope everyone is doing well.

IDC Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, ER+, PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 5/19/2022 AC + T (Taxol)
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Aug 5, 2022 08:50PM - edited Aug 5, 2022 08:50PM by sarahmaude

jh40, I have chronic mild/moderate depression and adhd. No panic disorder, but when my depression wasn't treated I was prone to some anxiety. The steroids I got definitely ramped up my energy level on my first TC treatment. After that, I had slightly elevated heart rate, which could have also been from chemo. It never made me more anxious. Not having nausea and vomiting was a huge blessing. I think feeling ill would have been worse for me.

Kathrynwithasea, I am on my back for radiation with a very small foam wedge under the side where my breast makes skin on skin contact. Other that that, they have a special board for breast therapy. I've done some reading and some use the word mattress or couch for the rock hard places we lay for our baking. I'm being treated on a Halcyon machine, (a circle kind of like s CT scanner) and the board slides me in and out as if I were a gingerbread woman. I'm finished with 8/16 whole breast treatments. So far, as expected, I have no skin issues or irritation. Other than it being daily, it's very quick. Once I'm in position, the treatment is a little longer than one of the 1990s pop songs they play play during treatment. I'll finish radiation treatment on 8/24 with 5 boosts to the tumor bed. I did elect to receive 3 tattoos for alignment. I did not like the scratchy clear bandages over the sharpie marks I started with. The tattoos are smaller than many of my other spots I already have.

I also decided I wasn't happy putting double maxi dress length hospital gowns on daily. I'm not sick, and I think the gowns are triggering from my wire placement where I bled all over the gown I was wearing. So I went to Academy Sports and got an oversized $10 shirt, cut open the back and added ties to the collar. I have an over shirt and even just a sweater that I can wear over my homemade “gown." It seems like such a small thing to stress me out, but that small bit of control was very helpful to me. I can say that I am so over being a “patient “ after almost 6 months since diagnosis.

I'm not taking any supplements for iron, but looked at Cleveland Clinic's website and they had a helpful menu to boost iron through diet. General Mills has a Raisin Nut Bran cereal that tastes good and has good iron added. I'm also making sure I eat leafy greens, shellfish, eggs, chicken, and some red meats. I get bloodwork on Tuesday, so I'll be interested to see how my red counts have improved. I also see the oncologist, so will be interested to see if she has thoughts on how I can best monitor for any recurrence. It's kind of baffling to me that after all this treatment, we don't have better ways of measuring their effectiveness.

Hormonal Therapy 2/17/2022 Arimidex (anastrozole) Surgery 3/31/2022 Lumpectomy (Left) Chemotherapy 5/4/2022 Taxotere (docetaxel), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) Dx IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2- Radiation Therapy Left breast
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Aug 6, 2022 04:51AM kathrynw1thasea wrote:

jh40, I don’t normally have panic attacks but before my 9th Taxol treatment I had extreme anxiety and the urge to run away and skip my treatment. I had forgotten to bring my Ativan. I definitely remembered it for #10 and I’m sure glad that I did. It was a Murphy’s law kind of day, but I powered through 10mg of that wonder drug in my system. I actually look forward to the energy the steroids give my. I have a bit of trouble sleeping for a couple nights, but the energy is a blessing. I haven’t noticed the steroids making the anxiety related to being in treatment or my chronic depression any worse. If anything, those days seem better to me. Hope that gives you a little peace.

Sarahmaude, great to hear your experience! I totally understand the gown thing. My MO has the worst gowns and my surgeon has a great one. After reading your description, I’m thinking I may make one myself. Anticipating 6.5 weeks of hating a gown does not inspire joy! I had a question about the skin on skin thing. I thought it only mattered that we keep that area separated, moisturized and dry between treatments. Does it also have to be separated during the radiation application? I’m visualizing the wedge lifting the torso up on the radiated side just enough to defy the effects of gravity and aging that make us fail the pencil under the boob test.

I’m definitely ready to not be a chemotherapy patient anymore. I thought I’d want to keep my port for a while after chemo for any scans or blood tests, but I’m looking forward to getting it out and moving past the anxiety I’ve had over malfunctions. I don’t regret getting a port because the thought of 16 treatments and blood draws from the very uncooperative veins of my right arm filled me with terror. I ended up with 3 blown veins in the surgery to insert the first port and one that bled all over the floor during the replacement port surgery. Not that I’m looking forward to radiation, but at least the vein access will be over for a while. On the plus side, because I’m participating in a research study, a very excellent phlebotomist has shown me where I have a very large and stable, although deep vein on the outer part of my elbow. It’s now my “try here first” vein for the future.

The things we learn through cancer!

Hope everyone has a great weekend

Surgery 2/15/2022 Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph node removal (Left): Underarm/Axillary Chemotherapy 3/25/2022 AC + T (Taxol) Dx IDC: Papillary/IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 5/27 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Left breast, Lymph nodes Targeted Therapy 8/19/2022 Verzenio Hormonal Therapy 8/19/2022 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Aug 6, 2022 04:39PM sarahmaude wrote:

kathrynw1thasea, my wedge is basically a pencil, but on the side, since when we lay on our backs with arms over our head, gravity sends our breasts off the sides of our chest. The “medical foam” wedge is about the size of a large dog biscuit.

Being skin to skin contact free during treatment can reduce moist desquamation. I was hoping for prone treatments, but they don’t offer those here. The biggest advantage of prone treatments was in moist desquamation effects. I asked about that and also about wearing a special bra. I ended up not needing the bra, but I’m glad they did place the wedge for me.

My other self invented trick you can easily adopt is to cut a small rectangle of cotton batting (mine is about 4x6) and roll it up. I can place it under my breast in my bra to somewhat replace the lift from an underwire, and it allows my skin to stay dry. It’s “free” for quilters, easily replaceable and hand washable. Not to mention light and soft. Much nicer than the washcloth the RO suggested.


Hormonal Therapy 2/17/2022 Arimidex (anastrozole) Surgery 3/31/2022 Lumpectomy (Left) Chemotherapy 5/4/2022 Taxotere (docetaxel), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) Dx IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2- Radiation Therapy Left breast

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