“We acquire the strength we overcome.”

December 31, 2013

Today marks a third of my chemotherapy treatment! It’s hard to believe how quick time has passed by!  Let’s see, last week was my first weekend post chemo and my first “off week” treatment.

Panthers vs Saints

Panthers vs Saints

The weekend after my full week of chemo was great! I was able to go out with friends. I attended both the Charlotte Bobcats and Carolina Panthers games.

On Saturday and Sunday, I had to take two steroid pills that would help boost my immune system. I don’t know what’s in the medicine, but I have noticed how much it has increased my appetite. I’m usually a slow eater, but the medicine has made me scarf down my food in no time. It has also affected my taste buds. For example, a lot of the food I eat tastes like cardboard. Both are very strange and unexpected side effects.

All in all, the weekend was a huge success! No episodes or problems of any kind. Now it was time to begin my first “off week”!

I was fortunate enough to set my treatment schedule around the holidays – So that I would be able to enjoy Christmas and New Years Eve during my two “off weeks.” My treatment this past week fell on Christmas Eve. Going into this treatment was very different than my first week of treatment. This time around, I was mentally prepared for what I would expect and had zero worries prior to going in. My dad accompanied me to my treatment, which would only last for two hours compared to eight hours like a day on my “on week.” During this visit, I chose to receive my treatment at the Levine Cancer Institute in Pineville. I chose it because it is closer to my office. My “off week” treatments take up a lot less time versus my “on week” treatments. With that, it would allow me to go to work – If I felt up to it of course.  Therefore, my “on week” treatments will be at Uptown Levine Cancer Institute and my “off week” treatments will be at Pineville Levine Cancer Institute from here on out.

Infusion Center - Pineville

Infusion Center – Pineville

There is a huge difference between the Uptown and Pineville Levine Cancer Institutes. The one Uptown is brand new and the “Infusion Center” there is bigger and more spacious. In Pineville, the center has one small room and you are in close proximity to all of the other patients (See Photo). It was a much different experience for sure, but at the end of the day it went pretty smooth and had no problems what so ever.

After treatment on Tuesday, I was able to enjoy the rest of the week. I enjoyed Christmas and was able to go back to work on Thursday, December 26th for the first time. I didn’t have to go back to work, but I chose to go back to work. It was nice to get myself out of the house and be able to have somewhat of a normal routine. On Friday, I ended up working from home due to some back pain from my kidneys. Later that evening, I was able to attend the Bobcats game with some friends.

As for Saturday and Sunday, I stayed home and rested. Nothing happened on Saturday but Sunday was a different story. Sunday was a special day, (not just because the Carolina Panthers clinched the NFC South Division!) but it was the first day I started to notice my hair falling out.

While watching the Panthers game, I was periodically rubbing my beard (it’s a bad habit of mine). When I got up, I noticed my shirt was covered in facial hair. My head started going crazy with thoughts! I immediately went to the bathroom to see if the hair on my head was falling out as well. My beard was definitely falling out more than my hair.  It wasn’t until Monday that I noticed my hair was falling out. I was getting ready for work and hair was falling out while I was in shower. Not huge chunks, but definitely more than usual. I decided later that night I was going to nip it in the butt and shave my head to avoid the phase of having huge chunks of hair fall out.

Shaved Head

Shaved Head

For those that know me well – You all know that I care a lot about my hair. This was definitely a hard thing for me to come to terms with. After summoning up the courage, I had my hair dresser come over and shave my head. I had to let her do it, for she has taken care of my hair for the past eight years. We had some fun with it, she carved her initial on the back of my head before shaving it all the way – How nice of her! For now, I have decided to leave my beard so that I can see how long before it will completely fall out. It’s crazy how after only two weeks of chemo, I already started to lose my hair. I know eventually, all of my hair will fall out. It will leave me with a nice smooth dome.

On top of my hair falling out, I developed a mild fever (99.8 on one thermometer 100.4 on another one). It forced me to bundle up next to the fireplace. While on chemo, if my temperature rises above 101 degrees, I must go to the emergency room. The reason why is because my immune system is different now, I can’t fight off any infections as fast as I normally would. That evening, I ended up taking a couple of Tylenol pills. It subsided my fever after a few hours. I’m very grateful that the fever subsided!

After today, I will have 14 more days of treatment. It will all end in mid-February. I have updated my treatment calendar on my “Support Me” tab. February seems so close, yet it feels so far away. I feel like time is moving in slow motion and the more my hair falls out, it becomes more real that I have cancer.

Once again, I want to thank each and every one of you for reaching out and continuing to support me! It has helped me get through these tough times. My next post will be about the start of my second “on week” treatment. It will be another long Monday – Friday (8am – 5pm). If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me.