Last week was my first week switching from the AC chemo to Taxol, which I will have every week. I was told that it generally was a much easier drug to take, but that there were a few things to be aware of: some people had allergic reactions; some people had joint and muscle pain; and some folks had neuropathy (tingling in the fingers and toes). Just my luck – I scored on all three.
I went in for the 5 hour infusion appointment and they started with some preventative IV meds. I think that I had Pepcid, Benedryl, and Decadron. Then they started a slow drip of a small amount of the Taxol, and told me to push the call button if I had any problems. Pretty much right away I started to get a bad headache, which a few minutes later went away as I started to feel as if my head was slowly being dipped into very hot water. As the hot feeling reached my throat, I realized that maybe I was having a little trouble breathing and hit the call button, as well as asking my husband to go fetch the nurse. They immediately turned off the drip (I had only gotten through 7.5 ml of the 12 they had entered) and pushed some sort of cortisone through, which immediately made me feel better. Evidently I had turned bright red, so when my oncologist stopped by she arranged to put me on a new flow that will include the cortisone in the pre-Taxol meds, and a slow infusion.
Thanks to the Benedryl, I was pretty dozy during the next few hours. They had the blood pressure cuff on me to take my BP constantly, and they kept coming in and doing small doses at higher push rates to see how I reacted.
I did have a fair bit of joint pain, but nothing too bad and I took Tylenol at night to take care of it. I also had some issues with my hands – not really tingling, but my fingernails feel bruised and the fingertips are really drying out. Of course, all of my skin went through a 2-3 day period of being completely dry and flaking off, so I’m back to slathering on the lotion, including on my bald head. It’s pretty discouraging to have dandruff without any hair!
Although I feel better on the Taxol, it is hard mentally to have to go in every week for chemo. You don’t come out of chemo feeling better than when you went in, and despite knowing intellectually that this is better for you in the long run, it takes a little bit of fortitude to go in every week to do something that’s going to make you feel less than well. Still, I view each treatment as changing the likelihood of recurrence odds, and I’m willing to fight for every single percentage point.