Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cycle 7, part A, day 3: A pain in the neck

Throughout this journey there have been many times where I've felt something and have kept it to myself for fear that 1) stating it would lead to a dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy, 2) it would unnecessarily worry those that love me , and 3) it would make me look like a bonafide, paranoid, hypochondriac. When I say "felt something", I mean it quite literally - like a pain or a bump or a swollen something or other. And, when I say I keep it to myself, I mean I don't talk about it much with anyone other than Bob (my hubby) until I get to my doctor and tell him and have him check it out - not that I would ever let something go uninvestigated because frankly from here til my dying day I'll be harassing my doctors about every little thing I feel so I hope they're ready for their new patient stalker. LOL Several times over the past months it's been the glands in my neck and throat. They have felt enlarged, swollen, and sore at various points. The big fear is that the c-word would be lurking in my lymph nodes/glands trying to march its way toward my brain or something crazy like that. For those of you who have never had cancer, these are the images and thoughts that occasionally pervade the mind of someone who has had it (it sucks). Each time I mention it to Dr.B he puts my chart and his pen down and takes hold of my neck and feels around and tells me everything feels normal and OK and I breathe a huge sigh of least until the next strange feeling or pain or whatever. A few times now I've felt like the glands directly under my lower jaw were not right - thickened and sore and sometimes it really bothers me for a few days to the point where it really begins to freak me out. So today when I went in for my neupogen shot I mentioned it, and they also happened to notice my temp was slightly elevated at 99.2 so they had Dr.B come talk to me and check me out. He felt around my neck and jaw line again and said that my salivary glands are swollen. That it is NOT my lymph glands (huge relief) and that it's a side effect of the chemo since it affects bodily fluids such as mucus and saliva, causing it to thicken and then it can start to clog the glands and can even cause an infection. He told me to take an Aleve and to drink more water and start sucking on sugar-free lozenges to help thin out the saliva. He said that if it becomes more painful (right now just sore) and/or if my temp stays above normal then to call in because they'll have to start antibiotics to fight what could be an infection. Apparently this is pretty common when you've been on chemo for a while. Another thing that's common is the all over aches and pains I'm experiencing - thankfully they're muscle aches/pains and not in the bone - well, except for the headache part which is skull bone pain from the neupogen (as that is the site that it seems to always want to produce the WBC in my bone marrow) but that only lasts about a day or two after the first shot in the series and then it lets up. But the muscle pain is a cumulative effect of chemo which tends to really start to annoy at about the 4th cycle or later - for me it really seemed to kick in and annoy me after cycle 6. Mine is sort of all over but the sites that bother me the most are my back, shoulders and back of my ribcage. I think it's time to go get a massage. :) So far, cycle 7, part a has been OK - a bit of nausea (not intolerable), swollen sallivary glands, and all over aches and pains, and ongoing fatigue, a touch of anemia. Again, all manageable. I had another great meeting of warriors today at UCLA where I attend a weekly support group for anyone in treatment for breast cancer. I almost said "women in treatment" but then had to backspace over it and say "anyone" because when I first joined the group there was a man there and we all know men can and do get breast cancer too. Feel your man's boobies, ladies! I was 30 minutes late arriving to the meeting because of student protests taking place on campus that caused traffic and parking snafus all over the place...I circled the parking garage for over 20 minutes before finally finding a spot...that's after navigating a packed freeway backed up near campus because students took to the streets and caused on/off ramp closures. ;/ I don't blame them (students) since their tuition is being raised by 32% - ugh! But I anyway, once I was finally there it felt great to be surrounded by women who understand and can relate to all the crazy feelings and fears I encounter along this journey. I wouldn't wish this on anyone but I sure am glad to not be alone in it.


  1. OMG! I felt the same thing during feels so much better now...but I never asked my oncologist because she felt my neck and never said anything. It is much better now!

    Glad you are managing your pain well. Sorry sorry sorry you have to go through this (and I don't even now you besides your blog!) Have a good weekend!

  2. I am so glad you have that group to go to. I am trying to convince my sister to not only locate one-but to attend!
    Sounds like yet another great part of your support system Julie-AWESOME!

  3. Hi Julie, hope you're feeling better by now! I find now that I'm done chemo, I don't worry as much about lumps and bumps. I think chemo makes us feel everything more, so once you're done you feel more back to normal. I am so glad to be done, and am not feeling the cancer will come back now that I'm off chemo. So look forward to the end, you are almost there!

  4. I love you! Keep kicking ass and asking questions!