Battle with the Silent Killer

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

So, I was optimistic in February that I would be enrolled in the clinical trial to determine the efficacy of post-chemo chemotherapy. Wrong! Week after week, I kept having issues with my blood counts. One number would be okay, the other would be low. The next week, they would do a flip-flop.

I was told that, if I didn't 'pass' my blood test on March 6, then I would no longer be eligible, unless I took other tests (like the CAT scan) again. Fortunately, I did finally pass the test.

I found out later that day that I had been accepted into the arm of the study testing Xyotax. It actually wasn't my first choice. While I had not appreciated the hair loss that came as a side effect with Taxol, I really didn't want to experience fluid retention in the arms or legs. I mean, really, I've already got lymphedema in my left leg; I need more fluid why?

In theory, Xyotax has fewer side effects than Taxol. Unfortunately for me, one of the side effects in neuropathy. For me, that side effect started my very first night, with tingling in my thumb and three fingers of the right hand. Generally, I only experience this at night, mostly on the right side, seldom on the left.

Xyotax also has the occasional symptom of nausea. Fortunately, for me, while I have had some nausea, it has not been severe enough for me to need medication, passing on in less than 15 minutes every time.

There is some cause for celebration. Watching my hair grow back onto my head has been a very slow process. But, finally, I am beginning to grow both eye brows and eye lashes (I had pretty much lost them all with the Taxol). While my lashes are not as long (yet) as they used to be, I begin to feel more like I look like a 'girl' again. After all, I can still cover my head with hats.

I've made a lot of hats with polar fleece, donating some back to Cancer Care Northwest. I'll be needing some hats out of thinner material, as it warms up. On the whole, though, I'm beginning to feel very lucky. Statistics would say that two out of three women with ovarian cancer do not survive.

I've had a lot of people thinking of me, praying for me. And, I've never lost my sense of humor. These things lead me to believe that I may beat this thing. I've been doing well with the morning exercise group for cancer survivors at St. Luke's Rehabilitation Clinic, I've started training for Bloomsday.

Battle with the Silent Killer
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Darbie Marlin
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Spokane, Washington 99205, USA
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Last Updated - March, 2006