Thursday, April 26, 2018

Personal Care During Chemo

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I've had to change a few things about my personal care routine.  My cancer is ER/PR positive, which means that it feeds on my hormones.  Therefore, eliminating anything I'm using that could mimic hormones is a good idea.  I also feel a lot better about using more natural products since I'm subjecting my body to more and more that is messing it up while treating the cancer.  #poisonwithapurpose

For anyone in the same boat, the most helpful thing I've found is to look for items that are free of parabens.  Here are the products I've been using and liking:

Burt's Bees Hydrating Eye Cream - Nice and light, but hydrating.  My skin is really dry from chemo, and this has been good. 
Acure Day Cream and Night Cream - They both smell good and sink right in - no greasy feeling, but leave my skin nicely moisturized. 
Josie Maran Argan Matchmaker Foundation - This is really more of a tinted moisturizer.  I've worn this for years on top of my other moisturizer and love it.  It evens my skin tone out a little without feeling heavy like a traditional foundation, and has made my skin look the best it has ever looked, pre-chemo, at least.

Native deodorant - I've been using this for over a year and really like it.  It's a deodorant - not an antiperspirant, which took some getting used to.  It smells really good (I use the coconut-vanilla scent) and it's all natural.  (If you switch to an all natural deodorant, give it a few weeks before you  decide to give up on it.  Your body needs to detox from the aluminum-based antiperspirant you've probably been using, and you may smell funky until your body is used to the new stuff!) 
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream - This is a good intense moisturizer that I dab anywhere on my face that I need a little extra help.
Tom's toothpaste - I've used this for years and years.  I'm making sure to use one with both fluoride and baking soda in it right now since chemo can do a number on your teeth.  I can't stand the taste of artificially flavored toothpastes anymore.  I love Tom's.

Alba Botanica Coconut Rescue Bath & Shower Gel - I switched to this for my showers instead of the Bath & Body Works stuff I used to use (hello parabens!)  It comes in a huge bottle with a pump, is very moisturizing, and has a gentle, non-offensive scent, which is really nice when chemo has made me queasy.  There's a mango one I'd like to try post-chemo. 

Anti-b Antibacterial Shampoo - great for when your hair is falling out and chemo has caused folliculitis, irritating all the follicles and giving you red bumps all over your scalp.  It has a slightly medicinal scent, but the lemon oil in it helps to cover that.  Very soothing for a balding scalp.
Cetaphil Baby Shampoo - Lightly scented and contains calendula; soothing and moisturizing when you're going bald.

Yes to Coconut Cleansing Stick - This has coffee and coconut in it, is moisturizing and scrubby, and is really easy to use in the shower when you're tired but need to scrub your face.
Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser - I've used this for years.  Very, very gentle.  It's great to use in the shower during chemo, especially, because you can use it gently on your eyes.  When your lashes are falling out it's nice to be able to wash your eyelids and this does a great job.

I've had to switch all of my makeup, as well, but won't go into that.  I've found that the more natural the product, the harder it is to find and the more expensive it is.  But it's worth it to get stuff that will be better for my body and won't help to feed the cancer!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Done With AC #1

It's day 6 after my first AC infusion, and I'm finally feeling somewhat alive.

I don't remember a whole lot from Thursday, day 1.  I had 5 premeds in my IV, all of which had something to do with keeping nausea at bay, and a couple of them made me drowsy.  I nodded off during chemo and slept the rest of the day.  

I felt okay Friday, just sleepy and a little sick.  Saturday was a lot worse, and Sunday even worse than that.  I felt really sick.  I took Zofran around the clock as my MedOnc had instructed, but didn't feel any better until Tuesday, when I was able to skip a dose.  Jamie went back to work today - Wednesday, day 6 - and I took the kids to school.  And then went back to sleep for 4 hours.

On the bright side, I don't have to get the Neulasta injection to boost my white blood cells (WBC), so I don't have to deal with the horrific bone pain that is reported from it.  My infusions are 3 weeks apart, so my MedOnc is okay with waiting to see if my WBC will come up without the injection.  And the Zofran kept the nausea under control well enough that I just felt sick - I didn't actually get sick.

Now I have until May 3rd before my next infusion.  2 weeks to feel better and get my WBC back up!  

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Holidays When Living With Breast Cancer

Today is Easter.  It has been a good day, filled with our usual traditions - a scavenger hunt for the kids' Easter baskets, an egg hunt in the backyard, a big breakfast and a yummy dinner. 

But breast cancer and chemo have necessitated some changes from previous years.  I had to take several breaks when filling the Easter baskets, because Taxol has left me very, very tired.  Breakfast was a thawed, previously baked pastry because I didn't have the energy/stamina to bake anything fresh, and Jamie made the bacon and eggs.  Dinner is being made mostly by Jamie, and the parts I contributed were done with me seated at the table.  I also had to skip church this morning because my neutrophils last week were at the lowest yet -  1.02 - and I can't risk getting sick.

The biggest change, though, is in my mindset.  It's subtle, but it's definitely there.  It's the faint whisper that there's a chance this could be my last Easter.  My last time to see the kids' excitement over Easter baskets and egg hunts.  My treatment is working - I know that from the ultrasound I had a few weeks ago.  But I also know that cancer is unpredictable and ruthless, and I will be living with this for the rest of my life, whether there is NED (No Evidence of Disease) at the end of this treatment or not.  For the rest of my life, I'll be getting checkups to see if the cancer has metastasized - spread - to other areas of my body.  I'll have to legitimately question every ache and pain in case it's a symptom of the breast cancer spreading to my bones/brain/liver/lungs.

There are so many stories of women who have gone through successful treatment and gone on to live long, healthy lives free of cancer.  And there are equally as many women who have had their cancer return months or years later, and have had their lives cut much too short.

I'm reminding myself every single day of 2 Corinthians 5:7 - "For we walk by faith, not by sight."  Whether this is my last Easter, or just the last one that I'll have to celebrate while undergoing chemo, I know God has a plan for my life.  And he has a plan to take care of Jamie and the kids whether I'm here to try to manage it for him or not.

Please pray that my neutrophils are above 1.0 on Thursday.  If they are, I'll be finishing Taxol Thursday and then hopefully starting AC - the "Red Devil" chemo - the following Thursday.  Here's to killing the cancer and making the most of every moment, month, and year I have left!       

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