Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Health Kick, or Is It Possible to Get Healthier on Chemo?

On Tuesday I am due to have cycle #6 of this chemo cocktail (carboplatin, avastin, alimta), the second of my "bonus rounds." For some reason, cycle #5 has been incredibly kind to me. Sure, I had lots of the annoying side effects, (a weird taste in my mouth, tingling hands and feet that become incredibly sensitive, plus I got a stye in my eye) but those left after about a week. The fatigue is always rough, but this past week I have felt my energy returning to levels much higher than before I started chemo. The main thing is that I can breathe so much more clearly. 

After I was diagnosed, I remember looking around our backyard, and I noticed that I had placed a lawn chair next to every one of the kids' play areas. I was so short of breath that I could not stand for any length of time to play with them. I didn't go up to Zander's room because I would be so very winded by the time I reached the top of the stairs. In those days, having a shower and walking back to our room was enough to require at least half an hour of bed rest to recover. 

Somewhere over the past few months, that has all started to change. I can now walk around carrying my daughters (one at a time, mind you!). I discovered this quite by accident when Mikaela was fussing and I picked her up purely on instinct and started walking. After a minute or two, I realized that I wasn't puffing for air. That was a wonderful moment. 

My new found ability to breathe has put me on something of a health kick. About 2 weeks ago, we bought this lovely new toy.
Mikaela working out
I decided that, since my lungs actually seem to be working again, I have an obligation to keep them as healthy as possible. I appreciate the ability to breathe so much more than I ever have before.

At first, I struggled to do more than a few minutes on the bike. However, after 2 weeks of dedicated practice, I can go 20 minutes nonstop. It's not so impressive - I have to keep it on the lowest setting, but remembering that it was only a few months ago that I could not climb a flight of stairs, I feel pretty excited.

I have also been drinking protein shakes to help keep me at a 2000+ calorie a day diet. Weight loss is a major problem for cancer patients, both because the cancer steals nutrients, and from chemo related nausea. Thankfully, the anti-nausea meds have been very effective for me, so I have been working to pack on the pounds. I am pleased to say that I have gained back all of the weight I lost, and then some!

Hopefully, Cycle #6 will be relatively tolerable, and I will be able to continue (slowly) improving my fitness level. It's not much, but it makes me feel good to be able to do something to keep myself in good condition. I hope to be in this fight for a very long time. 


Jessica said...

I know this feeling! When I'm on steroids I can go upstairs and into the shower without having to sit and catch my breath and recover from the journey. I'm glad to hear c/a/a was kind to you this cycle. I found it to be mind as chemo goes, BUT I was also a freak that didn't get any improvement from it.

Given that you're up to this cycle, I trust a scan has shown improvement?

Please continue to feel better; take a bike ride for me too!

Lil-Lytnin said...

Hey Jessica, so sorry c/a/a didn't work for you. I had scans after cycles 2 and 4 that both showed shrinkage, hence the 2 bonus rounds. I'm betting the 3rd gen alk drug will work for you. Hang in there!

To anyone out in the blogosphere reading this, check out Jessica's impressive blog at http://stageiv.wordpress.com
She is 2 years into her lung cancer journey and has been through the ringer. It is an amazing read.