Tag Archives: ovarian dysgerminoma

All Clear

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Happy Day! All clear cancer screening!

The feeling of walking into my oncologist’s office, sitting and waiting for results so far has not changed for me. It is hard, plain and simple. I often wonder if the feeling will ever change.

When I was waiting today, 01/14/2014, I was looking around the room with a different perspective - that of a survivor. It had me thinking about the fact that I always preach absolute positivity through your cancer journey. The truth is, sitting back and really thinking about it, I don’t know if I have expressed to my readers that it doesn’t always come natural to be positive during cancer. It is a fight to stay positive – just as fighting cancer is. It is not always easy, nothing is, but one thing I feel to be true is: positive thoughts equals positive results. Positive results look different to everyone. Your positive outcome may be an all clear, another persons may be fighting through a recurrence, and so on.  This is true in survivorship as well. Cancer doesn’t end when treatment ends. In my opinion, once you’ve had cancer you need to have a life long dedication to being a survivor, being healthy, being dedicated to your check ups, taking your meds, exercising, eating right, keeping stress levels low and maintaining a positive attitude.

Today was my 18 month check up, which is a milestone for my cancer - ovarian dysgerminoma. At this point 4 out of 5 recurrences happen twelve to eighteen months post-chemo. I am so, so, so happy to say that I am cancer free! I have been dedicated. I have been positive. And I have fought to stay healthy. It is so important to always fight. I have been so blessed to be in contact with floods of wonderful fighters and to all of you I say, it is an honor and privilege to be along with you on your journey. Fight to stay healthy and fight to stay positive in all areas of life. FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!

Goodbye Hair! See you Next Year!

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Loss of hair with chemotherapy

Anytime I read or watched anything about women and chemotherapy I always had one lasting thing on my mind, how traumatic it was for them to lose their hair. When I started chemotherapy I knew I would lose my hair but didn’t think much of it. I remember 10 years ago when my sister had cancer how helpless I felt when she lost her hair. She was 19 and at an age where it must have been so hard to deal with it. Nineteen is dating time, worry-about-what-you-look-like time. No matter who you are, that age is really hard in normal circumstances. Read more

Tell a GOOD Story

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another trip

Writing from Bar Harbor, ME today friends. Gracie and I are on a little trip visiting Ryan’s family and our friends. It is so nice to be healthy enough to take a trip! We are having a wonderful time and counting our blessings as always but I am definitely missing my hubby. :)


In my experience telling someone you have cancer is like opening Pandora’s box. People suddenly feel like they should tell you every horrific story of cancer they have ever heard. Perhaps it is an ever-present uncomfortable feeling people get when you tell them you have cancer or perhaps it is just our culture to be relatively negative. Either way, it is important to me to help change the culture of cancer talk. Every story has some good in it. Find the good. Find a way to inspire and give hope to someone fighting this battle.

If you are a survivor, fighter, family member or caregiver with a good story of hope and inspiration I would love for you to share your story in the comments section of this post. It’s always nice to read a good story when you are sick. It is a good way to counteract any crazy stories you may hear along your journey. Please make this post a stomping ground of positivity. We have plenty of fighters reading this blog that would LOVE to hear a good story.

Every day is a blessing. There is always a way to be positive. Positive attitude, positive results.

Have fun writing my endlessly strong friends.

As a side note here are my golden rules of talking to a cancer patient or a mom with cancer:

        1. Please DO NOT tell a cancer patient a list of everyone you have known that has died of cancer.

2. Please DO NOT say, “Yeah, I know someone that got through cancer with flying colors and is back in chemotherapy again and almost dead”.

3. Please DO NOT tell a cancer patient all the horrible things that have happened to your friends with cancer.

4. Please DO NOT tell a new mom with cancer about all the kids you know that moms have died of cancer.

5. Please DO NOT say “Well, at least you can say you’ve lived.”.

6. Please DO, DO, DO, tell a cancer patient a GOOD story, a story of hope and promise. We know all the horrible things cancer can bring. Tell something to lift us up. Tell something inspiring. Tell something hopeful.

7. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. -Thumper

Nutrition During Chemotherapy

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eating healthy during chemotherapy

It is very important to keep your system as healthy as possible during chemotherapy. With all the advances in chemotherapy side effect prevention, it is becoming increasingly easier to eat a wide variety of foods without “tossing your cookies”. I always had this vision of people withering away to nothing when facing cancer. I think it really is a thing of the past or at least I think it is for people facing my cancer. Either way, I remember saying to my family the day I started chemotherapy, “Okay everyone!”, “I am 127 pounds today”,  “If I drop below that at any point get on my butt about eating.” After day 1 of chemotherapy I didn’t see 127 pounds again until a good month after the completion of my treatments. My weight actually shot through the roof. I was so surprised. I never fluctuate in weight and I thought for sure, if anything, I would lose weight.

My focus during chemotherapy was taking care of Gracie, staying fit, staying very well hydrated, and eating the right foods. Eating good food, especially the foods I like was very difficult for me because I was on Coumadin. Virtually all of my favorite foods were on the list of items to “avoid” when on Coumadin. My oncologist actually encouraged me to eat these foods because they are an important part of a healthy diet. He just stressed the importance of consistently eating anything on the list and we would adapt the dosage of the Coumadin as we went along. The more consistent I was about my diet, the better and the less adjusting we had to do. After a few weeks of my PT-INR levels being all over the board I came up with a consistent plan of attack for eating “greens”. I am so thankful my doctor wanted to take this approach. I believe this is why I stayed so healthy.

The following is a sample of what worked for me during my treatments. It kept my energy levels up and blood counts in the normal range.

2    16 ounce glasses of water
1     8 ounce cup of coffee
2    organic oranges
1     packet of organic apple oatmeal
1    organic apple

2    16 ounce glasses of water
2    organic carrots
3    organic celery
1     serving of spinach salad, bean salad, or a pasta salad loaded with tomatoes, avocados, and cucumbers

1     can of FRS, apricot nectarine
1    16 ounce glasses of water

2    16 ounce glasses of water
2     servings of organic broccoli
1     serving of chicken or a super food packed soup
1     serving of sweet potatoes

1     8 ounce mug of chamomile tea
2    16 ounce glasses of water

Recipes to be posted soon. Stay tuned.

Cancer Support “Coffee and Cancer”

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Cancer Support Video Chat

I am always available to talk if you are a woman facing Ovarian Dysgerminoma or a new mom facing cancer. It is always nice to talk to someone who has been through the process. I will be here to listen to your fears, your triumphs, your hurdles, your set backs, to share my experience if you would like or to give you information and other resources. Support groups are not for everybody. Sometimes it is nice to sit and have a cup of coffee with someone on video chat and just talk about things. Send me an email at mommybeatscancer@gmail.com or leave a comment below and we can schedule a “Google Hangout”. If you don’t know how to work a Google Hangout I will be happy to assist you in getting started.

The American Cancer Society is a wonderful resource to find support groups in your area, talk to a cancer specialist, or talk to a peer about your cancer 24/7.

Website: http://www.cancer.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmericanCancerSociety

More Resources to come in the next few days. Stay tuned. :)

Fertility Post BEP Chemotherapy

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acupuncture for fertility

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.

Controlling the Controllable- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

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One of the biggest lessons I have learned from a post-cancer diagnosis, is learning to control the controllable – not the UNcontrollable. Ironically this is something I have needed to learn for a long time. It only took cancer to teach me this important lesson. Prior to cancer I always worried if I made people happy…to the point of wearing myself into the ground. I have never wanted anyone to be hurt by me in any way and I’ve always wanted to put a smile on people’s faces. I believe this is a very important part of life but you have to be healthy about it. The fact is life isn’t always sunshine. Now, I’m going to comment on a few negatives I see in this world but hold onto your hats because there’s plenty of good to come in this post yet! There are times that no matter how hard you work you will occasionally fail someone’s expectations, sometimes people form their own opinions of you despite your best efforts, and then other times people just don’t seem to appreciate all the positive energy you put forth in this world. And even beyond all that, there are people out there – that are just mean. They see a person trying to do good and they try to make their life a living nightmare because of it. Coming out of cancer, I have realized one important thing: what people think of you is none of your business and you need to do the best you can do every day and not sweat the small stuff. It is very freeing to come to this realization.

What got me to this realization?

Cancer can drive you NUTS because it is HUGE. It can easily catapult you into second-guessing your every move – researching books, scientific journals, and nutrition websites until your fingers bleed from typing out search queries. All the researching in the world will not change the fact that you have cancer. Researching won’t control this. You can’t control this. Trying to control cancer will constantly keep it as a forefront in your mind paralyzing your ability to stand strong and live life while fighting, quite possibly, the biggest battle of your life. Researching is a good thing, just be healthy about it. Only you will know what your level of healthy is. Just don’t let it consume you.

Cancer can also reveal the most wonderful people, doing the most wonderful things for you. Even more so, it can reveal attributes in people you could have never imagined existed. Quite often you will not be able to meet or exceed people’s expectations of you when you are sick. Some people will embrace your vulnerability and others will punish you while you are at your weakest moment and will continue to punishing you way after the fact. You can’t control this. You have to realize that everyone has a different view of how you should treat others and everyone handles illness differently.

It is key to keep stress out of your life during and after cancer treatment. Allow your mind to aide in healing your body rather than hindering it with stress. You won’t make everyone happy when you are sick. Plain and simple. Your typical “do, do, do” personality letting go for a while may shock people but that’s how it has to be. Do what you can.

The stresses of daily life can bog you down. Whether it be fighting cancer, eating right, saving money, maintaining fitness, raising a child, maintaining health, keeping family, friends, acquaintances, or coworkers happy with you, trying to get your home built, keeping your job, continually growing your educational level, or something simple like keeping your house clean – you can only control what you can control and don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is too short to try to control the uncontrollable. Perhaps cancer teaches you how fragile life really is. I’ve always considered myself a pretty happy person but I didn’t know true happiness until I learned this lesson. Thank you cancer.

BEP chemotherapy for Ovarian Dysgerminoma

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Nobody tells you what chemotherapy is going to be like. Will it hurt? Will you instantly feel sick? Just how tired will you get? The list goes on and on. One thing I can tell you from experience is that my first day of chemotherapy I had my first, and last, panic attack of my life – pulling into the parking lot of the chemo-center.  I didn’t know what to expect and in retrospect I wish I had talked to someone who had been through chemotherapy to know it wouldn’t be so bad.

I am a naturalist. My whole life I have been dedicated to taking care of myself, eating organic, exercising, drinking plenty of water, doing everything as all-natural, as possible. I was pulling into a place feeling better than ever, after having that pesky 5 pound tumor removed, signing up to completely blast myself with toxins! What in the world am I doing?

Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!

Much to my surprise that day I didn’t even know when my chemo started!! Haha! Totally, not what I expected. They always give you fluids first so I started with that and a couple hours later I asked the nurse, when will we switch to the chemo and she said, “Oh honey, we did that a while ago.” Phew! What a relief!

Chemotherapy, like many things in life, is what you make of it. Make the best of it. Don’t sit alone. Find a buddy to go with you. If you don’t have one, find a good book or movie to pass the time. I always found on days where my chemo buddies were more occupied with Grace that Ellen always made me laugh and feel good. She is so kind to others and funny. She is a great breath of fresh air. Find your person or thing. Don’t sit and dwell on your cancer and treatment. If you have Ovarian Dysgerminoma your prognosis is amazing and this is a little bump in your life long journey.

The following is a summary of how my treatment of Ovarian Dysgerminoma with BEP chemotherapy went. I hope this helps anyone out there about to embark on this journey.

Start and end date:

Start date: March 12, 2012

End date:  May 29, 2012


4 rounds, each round consisting of one full week of BEP chemotherapy 8-5, Monday- Friday, with a dose of Bleomycin the following Monday and a Neulasta (white blood cell booster) shot on Tuesday.

My “Cocktail”:

BEP (Bleomycin, Etoposide, Cisplatin)

Possible Side Effects:
*Reading all of the possible side effects quite honestly can drive you crazy and make you wonder if your treatment is worth it. It is worth it! Every second of every treatment is worth any possible side effect. I have compiled a list of side effects I feel were most pertinent to my treatment to save you some reading anxiety. Also please note that any time you are experiencing difficulty, let your nurse know. You would be surprised at how they can counteract almost anything these days.

Risk of Infection
I believe this is the single most important side effect to watch for. Anytime you get a fever while you are being treated for cancer it is SO important to immediately be seen. I was lucky enough to have not gotten a fever during chemotherapy. Two acquaintances of our family have not been so lucky this year. Both of them died of an infection while receiving treatment for cancer. Chemotherapy often drops your white blood cell count making it very difficult for your body to fight infection. One sign you may have an infection is a fever. Fever=Hospital! GO, GO, GO!!!

Bruising and Bleeding
Be sure to be aware of bruising and bleeding during chemotherapy and alert your doctor if you are experiencing bruising and bleeding especially if you are on blood thinners.

It is very easy for your blood counts to get out of whack during chemotherapy. It is important to talk to your doctor about the proper foods to eat and vitamins to take. In my case my counts never really dropped out of the normal range. I was very lucky in this way. One big contributor was the advice of my favorite nurse, to take Bifera to keep my iron levels in the normal range. As with anything during treatment be sure to consult with your physician before taking any supplements.

Nausea and Vomiting
There have been wonderful advances in this area over the past few years. If you are experiencing nausea and vomiting let your nurses know. They will give you all kinds of wonderful goodie drugs to keep your belly feeling nice and settled. Ativan, aka Lorazepam and Zofran were my saviors and made nausea almost non-existant. Don’t be alarmed that Ativan is an anti-anxiety medication as I initially was. It is also used to help nausea. I was SO against using it because it was an anti-anxiety. So much so that I spent a lot of time next to the porcelain god at the end of my first week. SO SILLY!!! I quickly gave in. After all my first nausea incident was at the end of my first week of chemo and my birthday. Who wants to be sick on their birthday? Not this girl!

Yes, you will get tired. You will get very tired, but you don’t have to let it consume you. You can work through it and the more you work through it, the less tired you will be. The things I used to combat fatigue were exercise, FRS (Please don’t get the low calorie crap. It contains artificial sweeteners and is bad for you!), an awesome attitude, good vitamins, and healthy eating.

Hair Loss
Yep! You are going to lose your hair. Have fun with it and don’t despair! It’s your temporary badge of fighting honor. I lost mine at the beginning of round two. For more on loosing your hair read my post Goodbye Hair! See you Next Year!.

Mouth Sores
Cisplatin and Etoposide are two of the seven most common chemotherapy agents to cause mouth sores. If you are getting BEP chemo you are lucky! You get a double whammy. I’ve heard mouth sores are pretty common and painful. Like losing your hair it’s another one of the areas of your body with rapidly dividing cells which chemo loves and is meant to attack. I was one of the lucky ones that did not get mouth sores. I am convinced I did not get them because I stayed very well hydrated, took great care of my teeth and ate a ton of fruits and veggies. This may or may not be the cause for my streak of luck with this side effect but one can hope that it was as simple as that. If you do experience mouth sores I have heard rinsing your mouth several times a day with warm water and baking soda really helps alleviate some of the pain.

Taste Changes
Again, I was very lucky in this area and like other side effects I escaped I believe it is because I stayed very well hydrated and didn’t let the toxin levels overtake my body.

Skin Changes
Bleomycin can cause dark streaks on your skin. I did not know this going into my treatment. The thing is, you are hit with pages and pages of possible side effects that honestly when you have a newborn, and cancer you just don’t have time to read. If I would have known about this particular side effect I would have made a conscious effort to not scratch my skin. Everywhere I scratched I have dark streaks. These may eventually fade but so far I have not seen any fading. I have read that scratching while receiving Bleomycin creates the streaks.

Kidney Issues
Etoposide can negatively impact your kidneys. It is very important to drink plenty of water while going through chemotherapy and life in general. Who wants to get out of beating cancer only to battle kidney issues?! DRINK WATER, DRINK WATER, DRINK WATER! Another important protector is to receive Mannitol to coat your kidneys. Mannitol seems to be in high demand. If at all possible be sure to always receive it. Be your own cancer advocate and beg to not skip a dose.

Changes in Hearing
I have definitely noticed a change in my hearing as of late. The change hasn’t been drastic but I notice it in large social settings. Over the next few weeks I will investigate ways to possibly avoid this and report back to hopefully help anyone about to embark on this journey. I don’t have an answer for helping it at this time.

Nail Changes
If chemotherapy did anything to improve my physical appearance, it gave me the most awesome fingernails I have ever had. They were like wood! Nothing would break them. I miss my chemo nails :).

Numbness and Tingling in Hands and Feet (Neuropathy)
Be sure to tell your doctor if you begin to experience this side effect. This is a sign that the toxin levels are getting a little too high in your body. You don’t want neuropathy. It is painful and annoying. Vitamin E and the B vitamins are very helpful for preventing neuropathy. If you do experience neuropathy there are some ways to treat it post-completion of chemotherapy. See my post on Neuropathy.

Pain at Injection Site
My chemotherapy never hurt going in. It was like getting normal fluids. However, the area around my PICC line always felt slightly bruised but not in the least bit painful.

Secondary Cancer
Etoposide can lead to a secondary cancer later in life. How ironic is that?! This was and still is a big worry of mine but that worry is subsiding. The thing is, there will always be worry once you’ve experienced cancer. The triumph is learning to worry about the controllable. For more on the triumph of learning to worry about the controllable please read my post, Controlling the Controllable. This is uncontrollable! Just be sure to be on top of your health. Always make your follow up appointments, always be aware of your body, and always live a healthy lifestyle. That is the best you can do.

Risk of Developing a Blood Clot
In my case I developed a blood clot before beginning chemotherapy. I was immediately put on blood thinners and continued them until well after the completion of chemotherapy. I did not know cancer caused blood clots and when I had my first clot spray into my lungs before actually getting my cancer diagnosis I had no idea that this could indeed be a sign my mass was cancer. For more on blood clots, including symptoms, please read my post on Pulmonary Embolisms. Your chemotherapy regimen can also cause blood clots so please once again be aware of your body. I’m not trying to be an alarmist, it is just extremely important to watch for key things when you have cancer or are waiting on a possible cancer diagnosis.

Fertility Issues
Oh fertility issues how I loath thee and wish I knew more before going into this process! This particular chemotherapy schedule can cause infertility and send you into premature menopause. Often times this premature menopause is temporary, as was the case for me. Don’t be alarmed if it is several months before your cycle starts up again. At a follow up appointment I was sent into a state of panic when my nurse practitioner was surprised I still hadn’t had my cycle. I spent the next week so unbelievably upset that I was in menopause feeling like I was suddenly in my 50′s. In retrospect, this is a small, small price to pay for having my life. Later that week I got a call from my doctor asking me to come in to discuss. For more on that discussion please read my post, Fertility Post BEP Chemotherapy.

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.

post BEP chemo itchingpost BEP chemo itching