Yesterday I went into Boston for what was supposed to me my last Cisplatin chemo treatment, but we decided with Dr. Isakoff not to do it. My nerves are now experiencing neuropathy and I even have numbness traveling up my legs into my tail bone which is not a usual symptom, so he is referring me to a neurologist who specializes in chemo related damage. Wish I could get in sooner, but next opening is in a month! Here is a photo of both Dr. Isakoff (tall one) and my Naturopath who specialize in oncology support, Dr. Bier from Hunan Nature Natural Health in Portsmouth. I am grateful to have had these two soecalists on my team and I am grateful to now begin the rebuilding/healing process:)
I remembered how my first year battling this disease that I always relied on meditation and visualization to keep my mind in the right place:) Over the last few months I would do a bit here and there, but I needed to step it up to a daily practice once again. Health is not just eating organic, whole foods, supplementation and planning your day wisely, it's also what we put into our thoughts and soul. This is one of the visualization techniques I am doing at night now, which I wanted to share with those of you out there who may be in this precarious stage, like me. It's the time when the battle gloves need to come off because I am nearing my last chemo treatment this week and I'm tired of the strong fight from the past two years. As a friend who created an awareness group called "Fighting Fabulously" Shauna, I agree and I think I have, but now it's time to relax with the calm knowing that my cells will know what to do to heal and purge the many toxins I have assaulted upon my immune system in order to knock down the beast! Time to breathe and know that my cells will do their job as I rebuild and keep my mind calm. I have a few of these I have written myself and recorded in the studio along with some of my music on www.ReverbNation.com under "Rachel Petz Dowd" if my readers want to take a listen to my own stuff . But this other one I found a short meditation/visualization on YouTube and seems perfect for those moving out of battle mode into the resting/building stage. It can be helpful for any disease or condition I think.... I hope you enjoy and benefit as well!
Sorry I've been out of touch the past few weeks. I guess it is almost 2 years since I started fighting this damn C thing, and finally the side effects of chemo have reached me and affected my body. All the prevention, dietary support and supplements to alleviate symptoms worked for the most part...until now. After my 3rd treatment I was able to avoid taking the additional anti-nausea scripts thanks to acupuncture patches, but after 2 days my feet began to go numb and I also have nerve tingling up my left leg as well. In addition, I went to a lymphatic specialist who told my my left arm has some swelling as well as my lymph nodes in my neck and left leg because of the "war zone" going on in my body at the moment. This time coming out of radiation and complete depletion was not a good way to begin the last phase of chemo in year two, but I am almost finished.
This year NH1 News is doing several interviews with former Miss New Hampshire's from the Miss America Scholarship program to see where they are today. It was a fun time in my life and very helpful to me in obtaining my college education, as I was able to pay for half of my Bachelor's Degree with scholarships earned and also my entire MBA in Business was also awarded to me:) The program is not a beauty pageant, but the single largest source for scholarships to women in the world, and talent is a big part of the judging, which was nice for me because I always loved to sing. It will always be a part of my past, and was a stepping stone to help me to lead a non-profit in the state for over 10 years thanks to the opportunities the program provided me. Here is a link to the short feature that aired a couple days ago. There are many other former Miss NH"s who are doing amazing things as well to help others, from combating the heroin crisis in our state to raising awareness for MS, and another Pink Sister is organizing a "Pink Carpet Party" for women battling breast cancer on Oscar day to make them feel like a million bucks! Here's the link to cut and paste to your browser.
So today is day 2 after my 2nd chemo treatment of Cisplatin. I am feeling weak, but not queasy! My treatment was on Wednesday and the next day I went to the Manchester Accupuncture Studio for a treatment. It's a group setting but feels very relaxing. When you go in there are about 20 recliner chairs, music playing, and low lights with beautiful artwork on the walls. They also have a studio in Concord and both have the mission of making treatment affordable for all.
For just $15 I got an hour treatment with individual points I requested for a queasy stomach, kidney support (this chemo can be damaging to the kidneys), and adrenal support for stress. They also sent me home with these little stickers that have little points on them to keep on and if I feel a wave I just push it into the pressure point on my wrist. Works like a charm! I took a picture so others can see where the point is in case you want to massage or put pressure here if you are going through this. It really works!
Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Friends and family have contined to be wonderful and I've felt the love:) A friend, Heather who just finished her Reiki certification came over twice and the first time I noticed the next day that my radiation burns finally closed up! Also Cindy took me to Manchester Accupuncture studio where they only charge $15 for an hour treatment! It really helped to get my digestive system back on track after all the anti-nausea meds slowed things to a snails pace.
I have been feeling well and now I realize it will be important to accept that for 5 days after my Chemo I'll be toast. On day 6 it does get better:)
One thing I wanted to mention is just yesterday I sang at a funeral for the little sister of a high school friend. Although the day was very sad, I noticed more than ever how community and old friends coming together can heal the deepest of pains. Our close knit group from the small school I attended is like a second family. How grateful I am to have them still in my life.
Well today is the first day I feel well enough to get out of the house, and it is just as well because it is NH Primary Day! I have been feeling extremely tired and after 5 days the nausea finally has subsided, so I've been gentle with myself. The kids and my husband have been understanding this week and assisting me more which is nice. Still I hate not feeling like myself. Last year with chemo I was able to work out and I hope to be able to do that again by the end of this week. I will go see the radiologist tomorrow to take a look at how the burns are healing. It looks much better although I still feel the effects under my skin. God, I hope this is the end of conventional treatment... just 3 more treatments to go, once every 3 weeks. My natural treatments and efforts will never be finished I'm afraid because I will forever be changed. The recent snow also makes me feel like just laying low and hibernating until Spring! I have not had the energy to do much and I miss singing to lift my spirits, but at least I can listen to my two younger ones singing and playing guitar to keep the atmosphere sweet:) I am glad to be able to exercise my right as an American to vote! Off I go...
Well yesterday I started to feel like I am finally recovering from the radiation. My burns are now on only 2 spots and it is healing. I am able to use my left arm much better aw well. And yet here we go again with chemo today:( My lovely friend Robyn drove me down to Mass General Hospital to meet with Dr. Isakoff and I am prepared with my cooler of dry ice and my Elastogel cold hand mitts and booties packed, thanks to the donations of Southwest Technologies for the product and New England Dry Ice to help me prevent neruopathy. I contacted another rep from a company called AccuVein and hope to get him to one of my treatments to do a demo on my arm. They have an amazing vein finder light that shines a light on your arm and shows all the veins for those like me who don't have ports. I am working to get the Gillette Center Breast Cancer 8th floor infusion department to start carrying these devices. It will make nurses time finding veins much shorter and patient pain and chance for an infection much less likely. Here's a photo of my first day on Cisplatin. Another dear friend Wendy Smith, David's 7th grade science teacher was able to stop in because she was there for her daughter for an infection (non-cancer), but she is doing well and will be discharged any day. No need for the cold cap on my head, as they said this type of chemo will not cause my hair to fall out....the silver lining I guess!