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Hollye Harrington Jacobs Headshot

Breast Cancer: Post-Chemotherapy and Neulesta

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Today (the first day after my first round of chemotherapy) was a tough, tough day. I just feel F-Bomb rotten.

Thanks to the Dexamethasone, when I looked in the mirror this morning, my face was so red & flushed that I look like I spent the day on the beach in Boca (in July!) sans sunscreen. Ewwwwww!!

AND....despite taking all of the prescribed antiemetics, I still want to heave. My mind is going in circles without formulating a single cohesive thought (great time to post, huh?).
The thought of moving my big toe to start the process of standing up is well, exhausting.
Can I just say: FBC (F-bomb Breast Cancer)?

So, the ONLY thing in the world that could distract me from this abominable nausea was a Jack Bauer pajama party with a girlfriend. Yes, Jack Bauer as in "24" (DUH). I figured that if he got me through the incessant nausea of pregnancy (which he did brilliantly, by the way), he might be able to tackle this nausea.

Well, he came through again which was a Silver Lining! Pharmacology-Nadacology. Even though I've seen every show of every season, we watched Season 3. Dobule Silver Lining whammy: Jack AND David Palmer, who was, of course, the dreamy "first" African American POTUS.

Since yesterday's chemo was successful (as in I was able to take it all in), today I went for a shot of Neulasta.

One gnarley side effect of chemotherapy is that it can decrease the number of neutrophils (a type of blood cell needed to fight infection) ... bad, Chemo, bad! Neulasta is a medication used to reduce the chance of infection. Neulasta comes as a solution (liquid) to inject subcutaneously (under the skin). I will have to get a shot of Neulasta after every Chemo infusion.

Neulasta has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials (http://cancer.emedtv.com). In these studies, the most common side effects of Neulasta included:

  1. Bone pain (in up to 57 percent of people)
  2. Muscle pain (in up to 21 percent of people)
  3. Headaches (in up to 16 percent of people)
  4. Joint pain (in up to 16 percent of people)
  5. Vomiting (in up to 13 percent of people)
  6. Weakness (in up to 13 percent of people)
  7. Swelling or water retention in ankles or feet (in up to 12 percent of people)
  8. Constipation (in up to 10 percent of people) Really? AGAIN with the constipation? Really? They've GOT to be kidding me!

At least there are medication alternatives to help these situations which is yet another Silver Lining. By the way, in case you haven't already noticed, I look for Silver Linings anywhere and everywhere.

As I've mentioned previously, I tend to "Hope for the Best and Prepare for the Worst." So, I'll tackle what, if any, side effects pop up.

You want to hear something outrageous? My Neulasta injection cost ... you're not going to believe this. .. $6,000! Yes, $6,000!

$6,000 right in my belly today, and it wasn't from a spectacular dinner overlooking the sea at the Hotel du Cap or a shopping spree at Hermes. FBC.

Our insurance will cover this. Thankfully. (Extra, extra, extra, extra thankfully!) I have to say that not a day goes by that I don't think about the people in this country who either are under-insured or have no insurance at all (several of whom were at the clinic today). As if dealing with FBC (or any kind of cancer) isn't difficult enough emotionally, I envision the people who have to do whatever they can to pay for their health care -- including a $6,000 shot like Neulasta. It makes my heart so very sad. (A sociological observation, NOT a political statement!)

So even though I feel putrid, I still found a few more Silver Linings today (because finding SL's is just how I roll!):

  1. Today is a gorgeous, sunny, warm Southern California winter day. I am go grateful to be able to enjoy the fresh air (and keep up my Boca Burn!).
  2. Matzah Ball soup delivery from the MASTER!
  3. A good cry (very cleansing)!
  4. A fabulously funny T-Shirt from a friend identifying 24 ways "to use the F Word." Don't worry, I'll keep them to myself (unless you happen to see me running around town wearing it!).
  5. A "Heart Rock" gift from a "Heart Friend"
  6. Reflexology socks from another friend (for 4 3/4 to use when she "massages" my feet -- OK, 4 3/4 massaging my feet is a gigantic SL in and of itself!).
  7. The hope of a hike tomorrow to get on the mountains and feel alive and awake!
  8. I am married to The Husband of the Year

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day.
~Author Unknown

Wishing you all a gratitude-filled day full of SL's!

To read more about Hollye's holistic and humorous journey over, around, above and below breast cancer, please visit her blog, Brookside Buzz (www.brooksidebuzz.com). You may email her at hollye@brooksidebuzz.com.