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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Our Cancer Journey Week 14

Taxol's major side effect is peripheral neuropathy.    Kathy will receive the 4th cycle of Taxol this week.  At this point, she can no longer feel her fingers and toes.

As an artist, she depends on a fine sense of touch.   The peripheral neuropathy was the side effect we dreaded most.   She'll meet with her doctors on Friday to discuss next steps - possible change in medications and addition of other medications to reduce the intensity of numbness/pain.

She's tolerated the Taxol well, keeping up with her daily activities with the usual verve.  One other complication is that her nails are black and brittle.  The slightest impact causes extreme pain - imagine that brushing your nails against a counter feels like slamming your hand in car door.

As we continue with treatment, we're planning ahead for the end of chemotherapy in May, the imaging studies to evaluate the results of chemotherapy and the surgery to come.     I've cancelled all my international travel for the rest of the year and have minimized domestic travel to a single day trip to Washington or Chicago each month.    Whatever the future brings, we'll be ready for it.

My colleagues at BIDMC have been incredibly supportive, giving me the flexibility to join Kathy at chemotherapy appointments, to be available for heavy lifting when she needs help at home with activities that are too painful or awkward for her to complete on her own, and to relax my meeting schedule enough to bring better balance between my work and personal lives at a time when my family needs extra attention.

I know that it may seem ill advised to plan changes in our lives like purchasing a farm (closes April 27), selling our old home (closes May 2), and moving during cancer treatment.  In general, the consents for chemotherapy emphasize that major life decisions should be avoided.   However, as I've written about in other blog postings, part of winning the battle against cancer is taking control.    We've long wanted to live more rurally, and now that we're empty nesters and I've focused my job responsibilities on BIDMC and the State HIE, we're ready for a new beginning.    Sometimes a change in home with corresponding reduction of the stuff you own and refinement of the lifestyle you lead can be transformative.   What better way to plan for the completion of chemotherapy and surgery, than emerging from the cocoon of your old life as the butterfly in a new life.

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