Category Archives: Side Effects

Challenging my Body Post Chemo

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This past weekend I pushed my body YET again and double-dog-dared it to risk everything! Fear not readers! This blog will not be turning into a blog of “Look what race I did now!”. I will however, occasionally write about progress in becoming the challenger of my body rather than being the challenged. I do find it important to write about this particular race because it was a very different kind of race, pushing the limits of my most limiting side-effects. Read more

Combined Electrochemical Treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy Post BEP Chemotherapy

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The last week of chemotherapy I didn’t feel much peripheral neuropathy pain. My fingers were slightly painful and hard to use but after taking some B6¬†recommended by my oncologist the pain quickly went away. A couple weeks after that, and the completion of my BEP chemotherapy, my feet and hands started to tingle and go numb. This slowly progressed to awful, sharp pain like glass shards with every step. One of the things I will be forever grateful for is the ability of my oncologist to not only help me with his specialty but also find me excellent resources to recover from treatment side effects. I suppose when you are as good as he is you know all the right people. More on him in a future post :). Read more

Neuropathy Post BEP Chemotherapy

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Hi all! Today I will be doing a commercial at the request of my neurologist. I am very excited to release an upcoming post on neuropathy because I know there are a lot of fellow neuropathy sufferers out there that can benefit from the therapy I had. It is taking me a while to get the neuropathy post written because I find it to be a very important post and I want it to be as complete and accurate as possible. I’m a very private person, or at least I was until this blog and the thought of being on camera is a little scary. However, what Dr. Carney did for my quality of life makes it well worth it. It is amazing to me that just months ago I felt like I was walking on glass and he got me to the point of being able to run a marathon. When I get a copy of the spot I will post it on the blog for you all to see. It will explain what I had done and how it helped.

How Long Will it Take My Hair to Grow Back After Chemotherapy?

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One of the most common questions I get when talking to people about to embark on chemotherapy is, “How long did it take for your hair to grow back after chemotherapy?”. I had the same question when I was going through chemo. I loved my lack of hair but was looking forward to some fun, funky stages that I would not have normally tried out. I always thought it would be so helpful to have a visual guide of what to expect and I never found anything. So!!! Here it is!

It is surprising how fast your hair grows back. Within a week and a half of the completion of my BEP chemotherapy I had a ton of “sprouts”. For more on my thoughts about hair loss please read my previous post, Goodbye Hair! See You Next Year!

My hair one day before losing it!

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Bald and Beautiful- My favorite accessories when I lost my hair, my bald head, my favorite Life is Good hat, and Gracie of course!

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Hair Length 1 Month Post BEP Chemotherapy- I loved, loved, loved this stage!! My head was so soft and fuzzy!

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Hair Length 2 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy- Starting to see where my waves stem from! A lot of swirly hair showing up this month.

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Hair Length 3 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy- I had a lot of growth this month. These shots are from the beginning to the end of the month. Mid month I could spike it up a bit.

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Hair Length 4 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy- This was my most favorite stage!!!

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Hair Length 5 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy- 

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Hair Length 6 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy- 

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Hair Length 7 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy-

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Hair Length 8 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy-

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Hair Length 9 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy-

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Hair Length 10 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy-

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Hair Length 11 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy-

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Hair Length 1 Year Post BEP Chemotherapy-

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Who has her pre-cancer hair back?! This girl!!

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Just about a year out from losing my hair and I went to the salon to see the always wonderful Kristin today and…

Drum roll please…

I HAVE MY PRE-CANCER haircut back! Pretty close anyway. :) I actually enjoyed my lack of hair but am happy to have my old haircut back. Now back to reality! I’m headed to the neurologist to have my follow up nerve conduction study tests to see if the combined electro-chemical block therapy worked on my neuropathy. It certainly feels like it did but I’m curious what the testing will show.

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Itching Post Chemotherapy Another Follow Up

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As you may have read previously, I have been suffering from chronic itching and hives post chemotherapy. My previous posts, Itching Post Chemotherapy and Itching Post Chemotherapy Follow Up have been very popular in Google search so I know there are other people out there looking for answers. I am happy to report I found my solution (for the most part)!!

After my last dermatologist visit I was determined that I would not be drugged into a sleepy coma to avoid itching. Furthermore, no other prescription had worked so far and I honestly didn’t believe this tactic would work either. For good measure I tried the Atarax and Zyrtec three times a day along with Pepcid. After a couple weeks of trying to get the insanity that was my itching under control with this method I gave up on the meds and started calling around to see if a spa around town had a steam room. I thought maybe I could get some relief with steam. I never found a steam room but talked to a spa representative that said I should get a body scrub. My instant thought was I was going to itch more after that. I WAS SO WRONG! I think all this time the crazy insane itching has been my skins toxic wasteland trying to be purged. It now makes sense to me that I had several layers of dead skin due to the chemotherapy killing my healthy cells and I needed to get rid of all of it.

Here’s how I did it!

  1. I got rid of my soap. It was drying out my skin more and leaving a film. I opted for Gracie’s soap, Just Hatched.
  2. I started scrubbing my skin every day with Lavender Scrub from Ummelina Day Spa (you may have to call them, I don’t see it currently listed on their site). I scrubbed vigorously twice a day with this stuff.
  3. I increased my water intake from 3 to 4 liters a day in an effort to hydrate from the inside out.

It seemed so easy. Within two days of starting this scrubbing ritual my itching and hives were virtually gone. I still have a small spot on my left thigh that always itches but it is certainly better than my whole body itching and covered in hives. It may just be coincidence that my itching stopped when I started down this path but it seems so closely related that it is worth reporting. Maybe some of you will benefit from this ritual. Good luck my fellow itchers.

Pain with Neulasta Shots

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Good morning all! I wanted to write a quick post about my experience with Neulasta. I started Neulasta in an effort to keep my white blood cell count from dropping during BEP chemotherapy. I had quite a bit of unexpected pain with these shots that worried me at first. Hopefully this  post will put your mind at ease if you are experiencing similar symptoms. As always, talk to your oncologist if you are running into side effects. This is just my account of how my oncologist and I handled it.

Description of the pain:

  1. Similar to the feeling I had when I had my pulmonary embolism. I would be up all night worrying I had another clot.
  2. Intense pain for 2-3 days after each shot.
  3. The pain was a throbbing, pulsating feeling up my spine into my neck.
  4. Bone and joint pain. I felt like my hips and knees were giving out and breaking.

After the first two shots I realized it was directly related to the Neulasta.

The solution:

I talked to my oncologist who suggested pre-medicating with Advil one day before the shot was administered. I was convinced the pain was so intense, pre-medicating with Advil wouldn’t work. I was already taking Advil after the shots and the Advil did nothing for me. But that was the issue – I needed to take it beforehand. As always, my oncologist was right. Pre-medicating did the trick for me.

Fertility Post BEP Chemotherapy

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Back to the oncologist I go!!! Something isn’t right.

My symptoms:
Extreme hot flashes 10-15 an hour
High Irritability
Joint / Bone Pain
Voice that Sounds Like a Prepubescent Teenager When Singing
Sudden Fuzzy Hairs on my Face
Vaginal Dryness (Man I hope these symptoms help someone because I totally just broadcasted that!)

Silly me! These are the classic symptoms of menopause! WAIT!!!!??WHAT???!!!!

The backstory: There wasn’t enough time between pregnancy, surgery, and the start of chemotherapy for my cycle to kick up again. My reproductive system was kind of hit three times in a very short amount of time but I didn’t ever think that I would lose my fertility. The only talk of fertility pre tumor removal and start of chemotherapy was that I would be losing an ovary and we were not going to do radiation in an effort to preserve my fertility.

There I was approximately four months post the completion of chemotherapy sitting in my oncologists office, talking to the nurse practitioner about my symptoms and she said, “You haven’t started your period yet?”. She recommended we do a blood test. The results, absolutely no trace of estrogen in my body. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I left so frazzled and upset. This to me was WAY worse than cancer.

I no longer had the say of whether or not I could bare children. I felt like I lost my youth. I felt less feminine. I suddenly realized that I may never feel like myself again. That this was the new me. I didn’t like this me. I felt like I was always angry (lack of estrogen). I felt like I looked like I was aging (lack of estrogen drying up my skin). I felt like I was ruining my marriage by uncontrollably treating my husband like a piece of dirt on occasion. I would feel the words coming out of my mouth and I honestly felt like I couldn’t stop them. He didn’t deserve this. We didn’t deserve this. I felt so out of whack in so many ways I couldn’t accurately describe it to anyone.

For a week after that appointment I balled my eyes out. You would have thought the world had ended. COULD I BE MORE OF A SPOILED BRAT OR WHAT?????!!!!! I have a beautiful child, loving husband, great family, and MY LIFE. For the love of GOD! I needed to stop crying and look at what I had, not what I lost. Just about the time I came to this realization I got a call from my oncologist to come in and see him. This wonderful, wonderful man knew I was upset and wanted to put my mind at ease. He told me that this is normal and it may be 6 months to a year or more until I regain my cycle. I felt even better with this knowledge. Later that day I called my sister and told her what the doctor said and she said “Yeah, I didn’t start mine until a year post chemotherapy.” very nonchalantly. If I could have slapped her through the phone I would have. :) That turd!! She knew how upset I was and she didn’t share that tidbit of information. Man, I gave her the what for. She’s not really a talker, I forgive her. Haha! My point is, I wish I would have been armed with this information going in. It would have saved me a lot of heartache.

A few more months passed with no signs of a period. I NEVER thought I would be wishing for a period, EVER. I decided to start acupuncture for my itching in November. A couple of sessions in I noticed I was no longer dry, my irritability was going away, and so were my hot flashes. Going in I gave them a list of things I wanted help with never thinking that acupuncture could help all of my aliments but I thought I might as well put it all out there. Why not? I couldn’t believe I was starting to feel like myself again. Holy cow I will never regret the decision to start this process.

November passed and most of December with still no signs of a period. Christmas morning, yes Christmas morning I woke up and said to my husband, “Well I guess I didn’t get my Christmas wish.”. He said, “What was that?” I said, “To get my period.” I kid you not, 10 minutes later and 7 months post the completion of chemotherapy my period started. IT WAS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!!!!

Ladies, three departing messages:
If you never regain fertility, it will be okay. You have your life.
Try acupuncture to ease menopausal symptoms and kick start your system.
Keep faith. It takes a while for your body to start working again. In reality we have such a smart system. Periods drain you and you are already drained. I believe it waits to come back when your body is ready to handle it.

Itching Post Chemotherapy Follow Up

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My silly little companion for the dermatologist today.

As you may have read previously, I have been suffering from chronic itching and hives post chemotherapy. My previous post, Itching Post Chemotherapy has been very popular in search engine results so I know there are other people out there looking for answers. I will continue to update my progress in hopes I will find an answer that will help anyone looking for one.

I went back to the dermatologist today. Back to the Atarax and now Zyrtec three times a day along with Pepcid. This is such a frustrating process and I am hoping a new strategy will work. On a lighter note, I have this amazing child sitting and grinning at me. I want to burst into tears because I feel like my body is under attack. Then I look at her and laugh. Haha! What a roller coaster of emotions.

My silly little companion for the dermatologist today.

My silly little companion for the dermatologist today.

Itching Post Chemotherapy

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post BEP chemo itching

Two weeks after the completion of 4 rounds of BEP chemotherapy, I began to feel symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and developed uncontrollable itching. With the itching came hives, bleeding, and bruising. The itching has become one of the most frustrating experiences I have encountered with post-chemotherapy. Nobody has an answer. More often than not it gets written off as an allergy. I am 99% certain it is not an allergy. I believe it is some sort of histamine release, liver, or kidney issue brought on by chemotherapy.

I have tried everything…
Completely changing my environment, eliminating almost everything from my diet to see if it is an allergy, food journals, washing my clothes and sheets in plain water, and finally sitting in the middle of the tub with nothing touching me after only drinking water and no food for a day.

The itching is still there and strong!

I have talked to my oncologist, seen a dermatologist, done therapy with an acupuncturist, and discussed it with my general physician. No answer. It is now 8 months post-chemo and it is still an issue. I am going out of my mind! I feel like my body is attacking itself. I have tried histamine blocking drugs like Pepcid, Claratin, Doxepin, etc…the only thing that works is steroids. The moment I finish the pack, the itching is back. I can’t be on steroids forever. If anyone out there has experienced this and has an answer – PLEASE! Please respond.

Here are some images of what happens when it flares up. This is all I have to go on and to share right now but hopefully with reader’s help and the help of doctors I’m praying someday I’ll have an answer for it.

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