Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cycle 5b update: delayed by a week

My white blood cell count was too low to receive the 2nd half of my chemo treatment yesterday. I was so upset. The doctor had the nurse explain the game plan to me so here's what I remember - they'll have me go back in one week to test my numbers again and resume the treatment. They'll switch me from Neulasta to Neupogen which is a shorter acting drug that stimulates WBC production and I'll get that injected daily for a series of days following every treatment. The Neulasta is the longer acting version which I previously received once per cycle. So why is my count so low? Well there is a cumulative drop that occurs with chemo, and my numbers were dropping with each treatment as they expect will happen. The doc had the nurse tell me that it was actually surprising that this didn't happen sooner. Then there is the possibility that some chemo drugs just really hit you harder than others and that appears to be what is happening with the new chemo cocktail I started a week ago. Besides delaying treatment (thereby causing my treatment end date to be pushed to during or beyond Christmas and thus further delaying surgery and radiation treatment too), the other bummer about this is that I'm now much higher risk for an infection and I basically need to hunker down and stay home as much as possible to avoid coming in contact with things like the pesky swine flu (for which I now also can't get the vaccine until further notice). Bob, my sweet husband, says that I should look on the bright side and take this to mean that the treatment is working. I have to admit that when I was sailing through the first four treatments there was a fear that it seemed to be too easy to be effective. I even asked my doc a few times and he reassured me that doing well during treatment didn't mean it wasn't working. Although I'm disappointed by this news, I'm feeling OK. I'm super tired and I noticed last night that I'm out of breath by the time I get to the top of my stairs - just like I felt whenever I had to get up to go to an appointment or down the hall after a couple months of bed rest while pregnant with Cooper. The nausea I felt on days 2-6 has left me, thankfully. I wish there was something I could do and know that it was helping raise my WBC count but the nurses tell me there isn't anything I can do that I'm not already doing (eat healthy, rest, etc.) - although I know I need more rest than I've been getting these past few weeks so Bob and I are working on fixing that (for instance, we resumed sleep training with Cooper since our trip and other factors have disrupted his ability to sleep long stretches at night). In other news, I am returning to work (from home) Friday on a reduced (very) schedule. I have mixed emotions about this. I'm excited because I miss my work friends and the distraction that work will provide and get my mind off of cancer. Although part of me is worried that splitting my focus could be detrimental to both my health and my productivity. Despite my fears, I need to do it because the bottom line is that we can't afford financially the drop in pay that would result if I didn't go back at this time. If, however, we find it to become too much of a strain on me we will reassess. I don't think that will become necessary. Fortunately, I work for an AMAZING company that has been so incredibly supportive during this craziness. They have never pressured me to return before I'm ready - in fact they encourage me to take the time I need to get well and check in on me and send me encouraging messages and cards and gifts that remind me often how much they care. I am so truly blessed and grateful for their support and love, now and always.


  1. Sorry to hear about the low wbc... I had the same problem and was also frustrated that it moved the treatment end date out (it happened after my first chemo though, you must have thought you were okay).

    I also had the out of breath thing happening when my RED blood count was low - how is yours?

    The only piece of advice I have is to make sure you're eating properly, especially protein. That's what they told me when my counts were low.

    Take care!

  2. Keep your chin up! This is very normal for all types of cancer treatment, although I know it is disappointing. Try and rest (haha I have a toddler too) and know we are rooting for you!

  3. I am glad that your job is supportive- but still be good to yourself. I hope your return to work is mellow and positive. Thinking of you- gina