Day 4: after 2nd chemo

[physical] fatigue -whole day in bed. nauseous in the morning, which I took a medicine for and it was mild afterwords.  It started to come back, no appetite, and I lost taste today.  Try to keep my mouth as clean as possible.

[emotional] big relief that my parents came to support me all the way from Japan.  Steady.  My son was helpful, and cheerful today.

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Day 3: after 2nd cycle of chemotherapy

I don’t know if those medical socks (in the picture) worked on my swollen feet or not, but my legs look normal today.  The day 1, by the night, it was difficult to walk with swollen feet.  I washed them and am waiting for them to dry so that I can wear them when I need.

[physically]  Nauseous – I took anti-nauseous medicine in the morning.  I still have my taste intact.  Some appetite.  A lot of burping.  Not as much as fatigue yet, but it is comfortable to stay in bed.  I feel hot, but no fever.

[emotionally]  Steady.  Managing OK.  Last time, Day 3 was very hard and I expected that for today.  It had not happened yet.  Maybe tomorrow.  I will see.  One day at a time to think about it.  I better reply some e-mails from my students before I cannot do it.

全摘出の時に病院でもらって履かされていた靴下が効果があったのか なかったのか。抗がん剤治療投与後に、脚が腫れ上がって動けなかったのが、浮腫みが引いて 普通の脚になりました。洗濯をして、乾いたら また 履いていよう。

[体調] とにかく 気持ち悪い。朝から、吐き気用の薬を飲む。まだ 味わえる。少し食欲もある。げっぷが とにかく出る。前回ほどの疲れはないが、ベッドに寝ている方がうんと楽である。熱はないけれど、ほんのり 暑い。

[心理] 安定している。前回の3日目が とてもガックリ来たので、覚悟していたからか、そこまでひどくない。それはそれで、薬が効いているのかと大丈夫かと心配になる。明日ガックリ来るのかもしれない。仕事で生徒にメールの返信、できるうちにしておこう。

Day 2: after my 2nd cycle

Day 1: (for a record)

[physically] I could move around, but by the afternoon, I took a nap.  I felt some mild nauseous and I took medicine in the morning for that.  I took anti-anxiety and anti-nausea pill before I went to bed.  I can still taste food.  Some appetite, but not my usual level.  My feet swollen.

I did not do it intentionally, but I took my steroid medication only half the amount I had to take.  I did not realize I needed to take 2 tablets.  A nurse told me “you cannot do that, medicines are there for reasons.”  I totally agree with her.  I did not forget to take them.  I remembered to take them on schedule.  I just did not realize that I was taking only half of it at each time.  There was a remedy, fortunately, and at the chemotherapy, they injected me with an extra steroid to compensate.  The major reason to take the steroid sounded by the nurse was that to prevent permanent feet swollen which can happen to me.  So, I was afraid.  I remembered wearing a pair of special socks for preventing the swelling.  I looked for them and I found them!  I have been wearing them since then.

[emotionally] I know what to expect.  I dropped the idea of “I have to do,” rather, I do what I can.  Stable.

 

Day 2: after my 2nd cycle

[physically] My neck sours.  My side of left breast reconstruction somehow feel pain when I push softly.  I could move around.  My nauseous is more severe.  I took a medicine in the morning to prevent that.  Most of the day, I was in bed reading or taking a nap.  I guess, I taste food OK.  Some appetite, I eat, because I should.

[emotionally] Stable.  I try to take things easy.  I notice a lot of things to do, but try to ignore them.  Some visitors at door, and I realized I should have a scarf or something handy to put it on before answering the door.  Too tired to explain what is going on all the time.

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Pertuzumab – Perjeta-, a new medicine, finally for me!

A great news for me!!!

My insurance company approved me to have a new targeted therapy called Pertuzumab, or a brand name called Perjeta!

Now my chemotherapy treatment is :

TCH+Perjeta : docetaxel, carboplatin, and trastuzumab (Herceptin) and Pertuzumab (Perjeta) for HER2/neu positive tumors

The last chemotherapy, I checked in at 11:45 AM and I was discharged at 6:45 pm… exhaustive.

 

Pertuzmab, US FDA approved the medicine only 2 years ago, 2012.  It comes in IV injection at a time of chemotherapy.  They call it targeted therapy rather than chemotherapy.  Pertuzumab targets my HER2 breast cancer cells.  Her2 is a protein and it can grow excessively around a cancer cell.  The cancer cell grow quickly with the Her2.  about 15-20% of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients have HER2 positive.  HER2 is more aggressive cancer than hormone based cancer.  It ranks aggressiveness and mine is the most aggressive kind, HER2 +++.

Other targeted therapy for Her 2 is Trastuzumab (or Herceptin).  That was approved by the US FDA about 10 years ago for only advanced breast cancer patients and from 5 years ago, it was approved to use for early stage breast cancer patients.  

Trastuzumab and Pertuzumab target HER2 but a slightly different way.  From medical researches, they found better prognosis and better recurrence rate if patients receive both of them, rather than only Trasuzumab.

When I saw my oncologist for the first time, she mentioned of using Pertuzumab.  I have read about it, but no other specialists had mentioned it before.  Since side effects of Pertuzumab and Trastzumab are almost overlapping each other, adding Pertuzumab should not cause me extra stress.

Day I called to make my 1st chemotherapy appointment, the doctor told me that she could not put Pertuzumab for me.  My tumor was smaller to qualify for it.  That was disappointing.  When it is not qualified, insurance companies may not cover the drug and it would cost us quite amount of money.

Over 3 days, I thought of it a lot.  I started to look for information of the criteria.  I went to see FDA website and pharmaceutical company’s information.  I stayed up late to do the research.  It sounded I was at a border whether to be able to receive it or not.  mmm.  I was not satisfied, something was not that clear to me.

I contacted my doctor’s office and asked for more information about it.  Later, according to my doctor’s nurse, the doctor spent some time to write a letter to the insurance company for possible approval with my condition.  We had to wait for the insurance company’s response, which could take 2-3 weeks.  Meanwhile, my 1st chemotherapy had started.  I thought the new target therapy Pertuzumab had to be done at the day 1 as well.  But I learned it could wait and I could start from later chemotherapy.  Good, I hoped for a good answer from the insurance company.

This past Monday, I saw my doctor and she told me that the insurance company approved the medicine and I will be treated with Pertuzumab!  Thank you so much!!!!  I would like to choose to have a better outcome after going through this.

From the 2nd chemotherapy, 2 days ago, I now have the Pertuzumab as well.  Let’s hope for the best! Read More

Bald is my new style

After I came home from the chemotherapy, from my previous experience, I knew I may have 2 days that I can move around.  Before sinking my body into my bed and rubbing my head against my pillow for a long time, I decided to take my situation under MY control.  Instead of my falling hair to control my emotion.  I was determined.

My forehead hairline was moving backward.  It was not true, if I say that was fine.  It harts to see it’s thinning.

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Courtesy of my husband for making me bald and courtesy of my son for documenting this moments, I became bald.  Thank you guys!  Some of the photos are out of focus, but great job, my son!   It definitely captured the moments.  Here are some of the documented photos, if you are ready.

 

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So, there you go, the bald is my new style for now!

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Maybe because I was at the chemo unit today at the hospital, somehow, when ever I see bald style women, I cannot help but to associate my bald image to cancer and nothing else.  I am sure there are women out there being bald because they choose to do what ever the reasons are.

Yes, it is emotionally not easy.  In the pictures, I can see I was afraid at the beginning.   Well, the machine makes a lot of noise and I was not familiar with it’s buzzing right next to my ears.  As time goes by, I look more comfortable.  Putting this blog was not easy for me to review, but it should be well documented.  I choose to be bald, it is under my control!  I like that attitude!

With this new bald style, it will be completely new experience to me.  Many women with breast cancer go through this.  I am hoping to deliver some messages that your appearance may have to change unwillingly due to cancer, but you can heal it physically and emotionally well with some help of fashion and attitude.  Yes, there are moments that cancer haunts you, it has been happening to me, too.  I am sure there will be days that I feel so depressed, well, in fact, I had panic attacks and was seeing a psychotherapist .  But I would like to bring things together somehow so that I can get back to the woman I used to be, or even with more strength!  I love you all, thank you for reading my blog.

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I will be checking in for 2nd chemo cycle today

I will be checking myself in for the 2nd cycle of the chemotherapy today.  My hair is falling a lot.  I will be updating when I can.

I am not looking forward to it, but I got to do :-(.

I have been drinking a lot of liquid especially from yesterday.  It supposed to be good for me to get rid of excess chemicals from my body.

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本日、抗がん剤治療、2サイクル目を打ちに 出かけます。髪の毛の抜け方が半端なくなってきましたが、まだ何とかこのままで出かけられます。出来るときに アップデートします。

いやだなー と 思っているので、持って行く荷物を整えてないですが、いかなくっちゃ。という時間になったので やっとエンジンがかかりそうです。

昨日から、特に気をつけて たくさん水分を心がけて取るようにしています。腎臓や膀胱にケミカルをためないようにとのことです。また しんどい日が続きそうだ。ふーーー。行ってきます。

Day 19: Vegetarian Restaurant GOBO in NYC

2nd day of teaching for my the other Fashion Economics course today.  I teach the same subject Mondays and Tuesdays, 2 sections with two different groups of students.  (Japanese Translation is later 日本語は英語の後に記述あり。)

I don’t know how other professors are, but when I go to a class room on day 1, I get anxious to find out how I do with a new group of students.  Each group can be really different.  I started to notice my heart beat goes faster than usual.  That made me wonder, if I was doing OK.  (and I was OK.)

One of a side effects of my chemo treatment that is explained to me was I might have some heart problems.  I did not ask exactly what or how it was.  Because there were so many side effects that I did not have a capacity to comprehend all details of how each side effects potentially do to me exactly.  Just understanding the list of possible side effects.  A baseline of my heart condition test has done before my first chemotherapy.  I will do the test regular to make sure I don’t develop anything serious.

Knowing that I may have a heart problem, faster heart beating makes me worried if I am doing OK.  This time, I knew the reason of my fast beat and I was hoping that it was a separate incident from the side effects.  It happens many times especially on the first day of teaching.  Nothing serious happened, no worries.

A visit to a vegetarian restaurant; GOBO in NYC  (http://www.goborestaurant.com/west/index.htm)

After the teaching, I got together with a good friend of mine.  She introduced me to this vegetarian restaurant.  She knew I wanted to catch up with vitamins and minerals with vegetables and fruits.  A vegetarian restaurant!? sure why not.  I have never be interested in going to a vegetarian restaurant myself.  But if is for the first time, during chemotherapy sessions will be an ideal time to dine.  WOW, it opened my eyes!  What a great surprise I had.  “If that is for everyday, I can become a vegetarian!”

Clean, sleek, modern, but warm and cozy inertia decorations.  Presentations of meals look very attractive.  AND of cause, the taste and WOW, the texture of vegetables, bravo.  The menu had mixture of Asian and Italian.  Gobo, the name of the restaurant, comes from a root vegetable called gobo in Japanese, but the food was not Japanese.

Soy bean paste pate’s texture was just like chicken nuggets.  King Oyster Mushroom had light cuts on surface and it’s texture was just like squid.  Seitan -wheat gulten, seemingly a good source of protein- was like a piece of beef.  So interesting!  I was really content of what we had.  She told me that there are other restaurants like this in the city.  Interesting.  No reason to avoid vegetarian restaurants any more, I am sure some of them are so satisfying for non-vegetarians, too.

Vietnamese spring roll: Home pressed ginger ail with pomogranate

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Soybean with brown rice

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King Oyster Mushroom with vegitables14863129057_e562fb4b90_z

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Seitan, Kale and coconuts rice14863087468_b085b47200_z

Passion fruit creme brulee and chocolate cake

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Day 18: Teaching went really well

Day 18 after my 1st chemotherapy. (Japanese translation is at the end. 日本語での記入は英語の後にあります。)

School has started and it was my first day of teaching for the semester.  I had full energy today.  Each class lasts less than 3 hours with a break in between.  I started out as usual routine, introduction of the course.  When I introduced my syllabus which include schedule for the semester, I made an announcement of my health condition to my students.  I did my best to be honest about what is expected every three weeks after my chemo cycles.  I explained what I experienced from the first cycle.  There are some days that I won’t be as energetic as I am today.  I appreciate my students reaction that they all looked sincere to me.  I am thankful for that.  I am excited to be able to teach the subject!

First day of teaching:

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Be active, when I can!

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Heal in Sneakers

It was my last day of summer 2014 with my son.  Technically, for my son, his school does not start until after the Labor Day.  But for me, my teaching is starting from Monday and Tuesday.  Wednesday, I will have another cycle of chemotherapy.  Then the rest of the week, I know I will be in bed for sure.  Today was my last day of summer 2014.  (Japanese translation at the end. 日本語は英語の後にあります。)

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Heal in sneakers: We decided to go for a hiking to refresh my first chemo weeks before the next cycle.  My physical strength is back to normal.  Nobody can really tell that I am under the chemotherapy.  Full energy.  We were talking each other a lot on trails, we made jokes, found frogs, lost our way a little bit, and talked about where to have some ice cream after the walk.  What a wonderful family time, I had!  I did what I wanted to do before the next cycle.

 

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On the top of the hiking trail with great view!

 

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[physically]  Day 18. Every morning these last 2 days, as I wake up, I look at my pillow.  WOW, so many pieces of hair.  This morning, I probably picked up about 50 pieces.  No nausea at all.  My taste buds are fully recovered, food taste as they supposed to.  My left arm, I still have some pulling sensation from here to there.  The movement is not completely back to me.  Back to normal completely otherwise.  My scars look great (a strange word to express scars, but honestly as scars, they healed great).

[emotionally]  I knew about my hair to fall, I was emotionally prepared, almost.  One of the first things I thought after discovering my breast cancer was loosing my hair, and most of the doctors I came across did not forget to mention about it.  I still had a really long black with a little high-light straight hair style back them.  I was prepared for it.  Not sad, it is rather strange and someway, interesting.

I am really thankful to my friends and my son’s friends for arranging a lot of play dates over this summer.  I feel big relief to see my son is having such fun and special summer while we are staying here all the time.  We had a family house guests last 2 nights, our friends that I had not seen since 4 years ago.  She did not want to bother me for sleep over, but I insisted them to stay.  They live far away and I don’t have much chance to see or talk to her often.  So many things to catch up.  Kids set up a tent in our yard and constant laughter.  I had a lot to catch up with my close friend.  Tonight my son is having another sleep over at friend’s home.

本日 私と息子の最後の夏休みの日。息子の学校は9月にならないと始まらないけれど、私の授業は明日から。月曜日 火曜日と教える。水曜日は、抗がん剤治療2回目。木曜日以降は、ベッドに沈み込んでいると思われる一週間。今日が 2014年最後の夏休みの日。

今日は、体調もいつもの私のエネルギーに ほぼ戻っているので、ハイキングに出かける。次の抗がん剤のためにも、自然のエネルギーをいっぱいもらって、第一回目の抗がん剤後の副作用で寝ていた分を少しでも取り戻したい。ほぼ通常どおりなので、たぶん私が抗がん剤治療中だとは、いわなければ分からない。ハイキングの道々、家族での会話が盛り上がる盛り上がる。冗談を言い合ったり、かえるを見つけて名前をつけたり、道に迷ったりしてあせったり、帰りのアイスクリームはどこで買おうかと話したり。素敵な家族時間となる。最後の夏休みの日に ふさわしい一日に。もう、遣り残したことはないから、次の抗がん剤治療、受けてやろうじゃないか。

[体調] 第一回抗がん剤終了後 18日目。ここ2日は、起きるたびに 枕を見ずにはいられない。今日は50本ばかり枕についている。気持ち悪さは かすかにあるかな~?ぐらいでほぼなし。食べ物も 記憶している味わいがする。左腕は、まだ 動かすと あっちこっち引っ張り感がある。無感覚の部分は、神経が切れていて無感覚のまま。全摘出後の傷口が、傷口の割りにとっても綺麗にくっついていている。

[心理] 髪の毛が抜けると言うのは、乳がんになったと宣言を受けて 一番最初によぎったことのひとつ。その上、会う先生会う先生が、全員口をそろえて、残念そうに 髪の毛が抜けますよと 忠告をしてくれていた。当時は、ストレートのハイライトを内側に入れているロングヘアーだったから、よっぽど髪の毛を伸ばしてきたと言うのが どの先生も見たとたんに思ったんだろう。きっと私の心の準備は出来ているはず。髪の毛を見ても、とうとう来たか このときが、と思う。抗がん剤の効き目の恐ろしさと同時に、興味深いと思う。悲しくはない。

私の友達、息子の友達にいつも感謝している。この夏中、ことあるごとに、一緒に遊んでくれている。この2泊、4年ぶりに会う私の大切なお友達が泊まっていってくれた。遠慮して、日帰りと言っていたけれど、はるばる遠く来ているし、私のこの経験したことや彼女の経験したことを語り合うのに、日帰りでは到底無理。体調も良かったから、ぜひにと泊まってもらった。息子達が仲良くて、ずーっと笑いが絶えなかったし、昨晩は、庭にテントを張って、2人だけで冒険冒険と庭で寝ていた。二人とも寝不足に違いない。今晩も、息子はお友達の家に泊まらせてもらって、息子が楽しみに出かけていった。友達の家でのお泊りは、この夏2回目です。息子が楽しい時間を過ごしていると分かると、私も安心して 思う存分治療をがんばろうと思う。息子の夏休みは、友達と濃密な時間を過ごして、私たちが家にいながらも経験値をたくさん積んでいる。ありがとう。

Good Nutrition, When I Can

Balanced meals with lean protein and a lot of varieties of veggies and fruits are the good approach even during chemotherapy.  Many breast cancer patients gain weight because patients become less active during chemotherapy, while they eat the same amount of calories as they used to have.  Or it is also being said that patient’s friends and families bring over food to help her out.  (Japanese translation is at the bottom. 日本語は英語の後に記入してあります。)

My tonight dinner was perfect for me, an ideal one and it is food that I grew up with (almost).  Thanks to my parents who set some of them aside in freezer in advance.  For some of these, all I had to was to defrost or heat up.

1. black bean rice (whole grain)

2. Tofu with Myoga (Japanese herb)

3. Eggplant from today’s farmers market with Bonita fish flakes

4. Hijiki (seaweed) with Fried Tofu

5. Burdock with Sesame

6. Zucchini Pickles with Kombu Seaweed

7. Chicken Lever (for a source of iron)

8. Salted Salmon with Shiso Herb

9. Miso Soup with Wakame (another kind of seaweeds) and Radish

10. Fresh Corn from Farmers Market

I know that was ideal meal during chemotherapy for me – I mean with the quality of nutrition- it did not have to be Japanese meal.  However, most of the time, I could not prepare or have meals in this way.  During 3 weeks of in-between chemo cycles, for about 2 weeks, either feeling sick to cook, or having completely no appetite and what ever served, I ate as I could.  Food became low on my priority list.

On top of this meal, today, I received a surprise delivery.  More great nutrition source came in just in time before the next cycle, which I cannot eat much at all for another 1 week.  A beautiful bouquet of fruits from my relative lives at a distance (so many thanks!).  Just looking at this gave me some positive energy.  It was so fresh and sweet.  This is the very short period that I want to catch up with my vitamins and minerals for healing from chemo and especially for my pimples, and for preparing for the next chemo.  It was a perfect timing for me.  I was feeling good enough to enjoy eating.

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[physically] great. Minor nausea, very minor.  I was very active, before my next cycle.  Farmers market in the morning.  I took my son and his friend to fishing in the afternoon.  They setup a tent in the backyard for a sleep over in the tent.  I was thrilled to see my son having so much fun and enjoying a little piece of summer 2014.

[emotionally] Feeling great.  As next Wednesday seems to me right there, I felt like no time to waste…

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