Nosebleeds

The arrow in the image below is pointing to the empty station ready to for me at the Get RIPPED! Buffet class. Unfortunately, a heavy nosebleed, which started on my way to Repsol Sport Centre, prevented me from ever getting started.

As a chemo patient, if a nosebleed isn’t stopped within 20 minutes, it requires a visit to the ER. That’s because my platelet count is likely low and usually the reason I can’t form a blood clot naturally. It also explains why I bruise so easily.

When it hit the 20 minute mark, I texted my husband to let him know that I was going to call 911. It’s dangerous to drive with a bleeding nose as you are not only distracted, but if you have lost a lot of blood, it could result in fainting.

My husband was just about to go out of town with friends to cycle between Canmore and Banff and get a much needed break from watching the children.

About 5 minutes after he arrived at the gym to help me gather all my belongings and get me in the car, the bleeding started to ease up, so we turned around and went home. It stopped entirely a few minutes after getting home. Thankfully my husband was still able to make it to his meeting point for his bike ride before his buddies left town, so he can still get a day to himself “sans kids”.

I guess I get an “A” for effort for at least showing up at the gym. It’s too bad I didn’t make it past the bench as I was really looking forward to the class. I just resting up and should still be able to take the kids for their play date with some of their best buddies and with friends of ours.

Thanks to Jari Love for helping me set up my station and sorry for leaving you to pick up after me since I had to leave unexpectedly.

Fingerprints, no more

It’s official; the chemo has basically destroyed my fingerprints to the point that I can’t unlock my devices anymore. Yes, it’s a common side effect of the drug I am on and is part of the Palmar Plantar Erythrodysesthesia that I’ve been getting on my feet in the first part of my. It’s now moving to my hands, and Taxanes (the type of drug I’m on) are particularly known for this effect.

Let’s see how often I lock myself out of my phone and apps because I need to remember my password and I have chemo brain.

A few days after I wrote this short blog, I came across “The 3,800 Club: The case of the missing fingerprints“, which delves into more detail of the reason the happens.

Benefits seen by Alberta Cancer Exercise participants

Medical research is important to build up the knowledge and evidence required for cancer treatment improvement. That’s why I’m proud to have participated in the Alberta Cancer Exercise (ACE) program. Since I have had to step back temporarily from work because of this awful disease, I might as well give back to the community through research related to cancer.

I’m 15 weeks into incorporating daily exercise (side-effects permitting) as part of my cancer treatment. I’ve completed baseline and 12-week testing, and will do so again at the 24- and 52-week marks, and annually thereafter for a total of 5 years of being followed in this study.

ACE’s goal is to work towards ensuring exercise becomes part of the standard of care for all cancer survivors. I am thrilled my oncologist prescribed exercise as part of my treatment plan, and I hope this valuable research will show the impact it has on active both patients and cancer thrivers.

ACE put together a short video for their recent “2019 Drive for Thrive” fundraiser. Watch to see how this program has positively impacted my wellbeing during my cancer treatment, and what it has done for other patients and thrivers.

Taxane Allergies

I just got back from my Oncologist, and given the reactions I have had this past week and a half since my last chemo treatment, her Director’s Privilege request to the Alberta Cancer Board was approved and I will be switching my second half of my chemo course on a different drug. Both chemos are Taxanes and sound familiar by name. I’m currently on Paclitaxel (brand name: Taxol) and will be moving to nab-Paclitaxel (brand name: Abraxane).

According to AHS:

“Patients who have had severe acute infusion reactions with paclitaxel or docetaxel, considered by the treating physician to be due to the vehicle of the taxanes (cremophor and polysorbate80); or patients who have experienced severe toxicity* from previous administration of other taxanes.”

* “severe toxicity could be due to the pre-medications for the administration of the taxane or due to the taxane itself” (source: AHS)

I will not get chemo this week again and will start on the Abraxane drug next week. Instead of being administered every two weeks, I will now move to a weekly infusion schedule, which means I have 9 more chemo sessions to go. It also means that instead of completing my chemo treatment on August 2, my last chemo will now be September 20th.

For the most part, the side effects of the drug itself are apparently similar: Abraxane (http://chemocare.com/…/drug-in…/Paclitaxel-Proteinbound.aspx) v. Taxol (http://chemocare.com/chemotherapy/drug-info/Paclitaxel.aspx). The main difference is that Taxol is known to create a hypersensitivity reaction (allergic reaction). However, for most people, the pre-chemo medication prevents this from happening. Sadly, I am just plain difficult and reacted to it. Until now, I have never had any allergies or hypersensitivities. Go figure I would react to my chemo.

I asked why patients weren’t automatically put on nab-Paclitaxel (Abraxane) if it is virtually the same drug but is known to cause less reaction. The simple answer: the cost (there are apparently other reasons too, but this is the major one). One dose of Abraxane is approximately 10x the cost of Taxol. So, it completely makes sense to give Taxol given that most of the patients are able to tolerate it, and make exceptions for those who can’t.

Crossing my fingers that this is the last big road bump in my chemo journey.

The genetic testing conundrum

My genetics counselling and testing appointment was moved up to today. It was so interesting to learn about the type of testing done, genetic classifications, implications of results, etc.

Because of our family history and my impending surgery, the genetics team will be rushing results and I should have them by the last week of July.

It’s an interesting conundrum when you have to consider the long term implications to not only myself but other family members. One of the most interesting considerations is “genetic discrimination” (think employment, insurance, etc). While there are laws that protect us in Canada against this, not every country does, and laws can change.

It’s important for me to know as it impacts my surgery and will give me insights as to whether or not other family members should get tested. There are many more considerations, but those were the ones important to me. Here is what the Canadian Cancer Society says about genetic testing.

Now, let the waiting game begin.