Heading For the Chemo Finish Line – and Japan

Today I had my penultimate infusion of Taxol chemotherapy.

Now that I only have one more to go, I’m starting to reflect on this journey and the things I’ve learned, and to make more solid preparations for the upcoming move to Japan.

I’m still waiting to hear about my visa, but hoping it comes through before my chosen departure date of May 15. (If not, I have a backup plan to get residency so I can get the mountains climbed.) 

Since my husband and I are taking our cats to Japan along with us (no family member left behind!) we’ve been working with our vet to ensure that Oobie (Bumblebee) and Tribble meet the extensive requirements for avoiding quarantine in Japan. The process takes at least six months, but fortunately we started preparing the cats last year, so we can show full compliance.

Which is good, because elderly cats and quarantine don’t mix well.

But back to my original topic . . . chemotherapy.

Even though my surgeons removed all my cancer in surgery, and chemo is prophylactic (to prevent recurrence in case a few cells slipped away somehow), that hasn’t spared me the full force of the chemo experience. I opted for the strongest chemo regimen allowed for my cancer–four rounds of dose-dense A/C followed by four of dose-dense Taxol.

My surgeon shook her head sadly when I mentioned dose-dense treatment, because she had seen the devastation it can wreak on the body, but if I wanted to get my mountains climbed this year, my oncologist and I agreed that dose-dense was the way to go.

Now that I’m almost through it, I can say that having only two weeks between chemo isn’t easy. The first week, you’re recovering from the symptoms–which, at least in the case of A/C, are fierce and unpleasant–and although I felt almost normal during the second week, that’s not a long time to feel good (or to get work done) before the next round.

That said, for me it was a better choice. I would have been stir-crazy waiting around a second week, and since my work situation allows me the freedom to take time off at will, the dose-dense schedule worked for me.

In the weeks to come, I’ll post more details about my chemo experience, in the hope that it may help other people looking for information. I’m not a doctor, and nothing I post is medical advice, but when I learned I had to have chemo it helped me to read about what other people experienced during the process, and I hope my posts can do the same for others–both cancer patients and friends or family members hoping to understand what chemo is really like.

Have you been through dose-dense chemo? Do you know someone who has? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments – I’d love to hear from you too.