On January 18, I had my third chemo treatment which means I’m now halfway done with my six total treatments. This was probably the best treatment yet since I had zero reactions to the drugs and we were able to do the entire treatment in about 10 hours, the fastest yet.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Originally, the plan was for me to only do my first two chemo treatments as inpatient to monitor me and then do the remaining as outpatient once we knew how I reacted. While meeting with my doctor in clinic to prepare for the third treatment, she said she wanted my treatment to continue to be inpatient so I can be monitored just in case. I was really looking forward to not sleeping at the hospital and slightly disappointed by the last minute change in plans, but it’s better for me to be careful and be monitored while inpatient.
I got admitted into the hospital (thanks Joanna for your help!) and chemotherapy infusion got started around 3:30pm. We were done by about 1:30am, but they wouldn’t let me go home until the next morning when a doctor could see me during rounds. Everything went very smoothly. I had no reactions to any of the drugs and was even able walk laps around the hospital floor.
Halfway Done – But Still Halfway To Go
It feels great to say I am halfway done with my chemo treatments and have been extremely fortunate not to have any major complications. I am celebrating that as a huge success! But I still have half the journey to go and anything can happen, so I can’t let my guard down yet.
Two weeks ago, I developed a low grade fever (100.0 F) and felt more tired than usual. For cancer patients, any type of fever or the slightest sick symptom means we need to go to the ER as a precaution because we don’t have the immune system to fight it. Roberto and I headed to the MD Anderson Emergency Center. Side story for your amusement: I picked up Popeye’s on the way there and ate it in the waiting room.
Let me brag to you now that my best friend Maggie is a clinical pharmacist in the Emergency Center at MD Anderson. This is like the ultimate hookup if you’re going through cancer. Maggie has came with me to several of my chemo treatments and reviews my lab work. Even though she’s on maternity leave with a toddler and newborn at home, she came with us to the Emergency Center to make sure I was taken care of. Thanks to her, I was admitted, seen, and discharged in just three hours! My labs and cultures all came back negative and we suspect my fever could have been a side effect from my Neupogen injection. My fever ended up going away on its own 24 hours later with lots of sleep and rest. It was a bit of a scare, but I’m relieved it was relatively minor.
I had an MRI done prior to my third chemo treatment and my mass has shrunk by about 50%. It’s possible the mass could be full of dead cells and most of the cancer cells are already killed, but we won’t know until I do a PET scan after I deliver. I’m happy with this progress. Even more indicative of progress is that my symptoms continue to improve. Cough is gone, itching is reduced, blood pressure continues to normalize, and my heart rate is decreasing.
About half of my hair is gone, which is actually pretty impressive to me that I still have some hair. Roberto’s cousin Walter shaved my head for me a few weeks ago because it was falling out so much. I now know what it feels like to be a guy and not have to worry about hair everyday… weird bucket list item to check off.
A few days after my third chemo treatment, I also ended up needing to get a blood transfusion due to low hemoglobin counts (my hemoglobin has to be higher because I am pregnant to ensure enough oxygen can get to the baby). I physically feel fine; this is simply a precaution my doctors want to take. If you have ever donated blood, know that your generous donation helps people like me!
We get ultrasounds every 3 weeks to check on Baby Boy’s growth and other development. Baby Boy is growing like a weed (80 percentile!) and not anemic from the possible chemo side affects, which is wonderful news to us to ensure his health. In the past 2 weeks or so, I feel like my belly has grown substantially and I now feel like a big whale. Less than 6 weeks until he’s here! I am currently 30 weeks pregnant and the plan is to deliver around 35-36 weeks.
We also met with a cardiologist to make sure my heart is strong enough for labor and delivery. There are some chemo drugs that can be damaging to the heart. Additionally, a vaginal delivery requires more cardiac output and we want to avoid a c-section due to risk of infection. The cardiologist did an EKG and my heart looks healthy and strong!
I only have one more chemo treatment until Baby Boy gets here! I will have my fourth treatment on February 8th, we’ll wait 2-3 weeks, I’ll deliver, and then I’ll continue with last two chemo treatments after that.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
A couple of weeks ago, I felt sad one day because I felt like I was missing out on so many simple everyday things. Birthday parties, social gatherings, even just walking around Target. I know this is all temporary. Roberto tells me to focus on all the good things we’ve had during this process. I’ve remained physically strong with high energy level, I’ve been able to spend more time with Camila, and we’re already halfway there. A lot of the cancer battle is mental. I have to continue to focus on the good things and not get caught up in FOMO.
Endless Thank Yous
Everyday, I’m overwhelmed by the support I receive. The Fort Bend YMCA, the gym I taught fitness classes at, organized a meal train for me and we’ve had an overabundance of yummy food delivered to us this month. This is in addition to other food our friends and family have given us. It has made our lives less stressful not having to worry about cooking.
It’s not all about giving something or a physical action though. I know a lot of people out there are praying for me and my family. It’s working. I believe all the support behind me is what keeps me going everyday. I can’t thank everyone enough!