Chemo & a Canine

My life has taken an interesting turn in the past week. Last week, I wrote about adopting little (big) four-legged furball named Josie. The past week together has been exciting, heart warming, and challenging all at the same time. Josie is a very special pup and I can see why the foster coordinator at Big Fluffy Dog Rescue and her foster mom were so enamoured with her. josiegirl

She looks deeply into your eyes (and possibly into your soul) with such love and purity it is hard not to melt looking at that face. She had such a tough life leading up to being brought into Big Fluffy, I am shocked that this sweet girl can still love and trust so deeply.

Truth be told there have been a few times over the past week where I felt a little overwhelmed/stressed but generally her transition has been good.

Funny story about a particularly challenging evening:

Cory was concerned that she would drag me down the street on walks due to her size in comparison to my size (she weighs about 45 lbs. and I am clocking in at about 100 these days. THAT’S right! I finally tipped the scale!) I can handle a 45 lb. dog but when she is pulling and lunging at small dogs, cats, bikes, and squirrels, it takes some manpower to keep her in check. So on a night where she was particularly overstimulated, I figured I would try and burn off some energy by jogging with her on our last outing of the night. Imagine us in the streets of Providence off of Broadway. We’re running at a pretty decent pace, and I think to myself, “I’m totally going to tucker this girl out, I’m a geni-HOLY SHIT!” Suddenly, I hear a large German Shepherd bark behind a chain link fence to our left and Josie comes to an immediate dead stop. In that moment I run full force into my goddamn dog, trip over her, and land flat on the pavement, hard. It turns out that my demise ended up being my stationary dog acting like a speed bump.

On the bright side, Cory was wrong about this particular concern…

Yes, yes I am. Sorry your honor.

Anyway, this mishap aside, Josie has been pretty great even when I’m at work for the day. I mean, if you left me with a cozy bed and AC all day I’d be pretty psyched too.

There are dog mama perks aside from all of the awesome puppy snuggles and kisses I get everyday. In taking care of Josie it has forced me to be more purposeful with my time and provide better care for both of us. Now I’m not saying every cancer patient should run out and get a dog. Trust me, just a few months ago I was NOT in a place where I was up to this. I will say though, she has nudged me to make some positive changes in my daily routine. Not only do I take lots of walks, but I soak in my neighborhood and the people in it. I wake up earlier, plan mealtime better, and thoroughly clean everyday (she sheds like a fur monster. Thank goodness she doesn’t go on the bed and couch).

This routine has oddly given me energy even though I’m putting in more “work”. I think that these factors can only aid my recovery. Plus that unconditional love and care is just plain good for morale.

Now onto the chemo nitty-gritty.

I am going into my fourth cycle of Taxol/Avastin. Friday of this week will be the longer day where I get both drugs. It has been generally tolerable but I am seeing some annoying side effects start to creep in more and more:

  • Hair loss- No surprise here. I would have thought that I would have shaved by now but the back of my head is still full, it’s just the front that is mega thin. With some strategic combing and headband placement I have been able to dodge the razor for the time being.
  • Dulled taste buds- I am not experiencing the metallic taste that some other patients describe but food last lost it’s luster. I can taste food but everything is much more bland. I find myself gravitating toward stronger flavors and spices than before so I can really enjoy what I’m eating. My appetite is great though!
  • Hand rash- I have a rash on my hands that itches like crazy constantly. Any other cancer crushers out there experiencing this from Taxol? Use, Hydrocortisone cream and cool compresses. It helps although nothing but tapering off the Taxol will make it go away.
  • Sore fingernails- I’m not even kidding. This is actually a thing. My nail beds feel constantly inflamed. After all this time you’d think I would stop googling my medical concerns. All I found were horror stories about people’s nails falling off during/after cancer treatment. So help me I will STAPLE my nails to my fingers if I have to. (Not to worry, my nails are intact). I’ll just deal with it.

This list of complaints in comparison to my list of complaints from previous treatments is nothing. This is living the good life! I’ll take sore finger nails and bland food any day over a daily ride on the puke train.

I can safely say that I’m pretty happy right now. Things will only keep getting better, I’m sure of it.

We are keeping the positive energy going as I get my weekly blood work done tomorrow. It’s a CA-125 week so I’ll be getting an update on my tumor marker Friday.