The 1/2 Way Update: I might need Ripley to come to chemo.

Today I will have chemo infusion 8 of 16, which means I’ll officially hit my 1/2 done mark at 4:30 or so.

Fun facts about Taxol/paclitaxil.

It was derived from the Pacific Yew tree in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Did you know yew is one of the trees that is universally fatally toxic? Yeah…even birds have to be careful not to swallow the seeds: the only non-toxic bit is the little jelly around seeds. Yep. I’m not kidding when I say I’m voluntarily poisoning myself every week.

Important note: the Pacific Yew is now endangered. Yes, directly because of cancer: it took a while for scientists to be able to synthesize the drug, and since it’s the bark that’s used to make Taxol and skinning a tree is pretty much as fatal as skinning anything else, I’m EXTREMELY aware of the sacrifices made to keep my cancerous ass alive. Or, cancerous boob, I suppose. Thankfully, it’s now semi-synthesized.

Much of the negative response during infusion (oh, and I have some), is because it’s essentially plant based histamine response. Two very important things to note from that sentence.

First, for all the anti-chemicals-in-anything folks who might read this: PLANT BASED ALL NATURAL DOESN’T MEAN IT’S GOOD FOR YOU. Hi, fatally poisonous plant without processing, and guess what? Still fatally poisonous. Taxol (like all chemo infusion drugs) is specifically measured out in doses based on my weight and health status, so it’s a new personalized dose every time and monitored closely in case breaks/changes are needed. I’m all about natural remedies to support science, essential oils and stuff help mitigate some side effects. I wouldn’t recommend chewing yew bard because it’s “more natural” than Taxol…although I suppose that’s a way to Darwin your way out of worrying about cancer anymore.

Second: I have hay fever already. So…I am pumped full of Benadryl and steroids before treatment (the Benadryl is part of the pre-treatment infusion bag of tricks, along with enough saline that I’m glad my IV has wheels for bathroom breaks). Unfortunately, MY during-infusion reaction is really intense sternum and hip bone pain, and low back muscle pain. SINCE WHEN IS ALLERGIC RESPONSE BONE AND MUSCLE PAIN? Luckily, it only lasts 8 minutes (last week Mom timed it, since she’s a nurse and would be paying attention to those things) and it’s not actually bad enough to stop or delay treatment. Honestly, I’d rather not stop or delay…even 8 more weeks is a long time to look at for me right now. I’m fucking tired.

I’m not joking you guys…the sternum pain gives me a serious “fuck, I really AM going to die an alien host” moment every week. (I considered adding an Aliens video here, but that’s mean because it’s a gross video and you’re welcome.) Also I’m pretty glad that hasn’t happened yet, because have you EVER seen a huge room of people with wheelie IV stands try to outrun anything? Ok, neither have I, but I can imagine it, and let me tell you that’d be a huge mess all around. Plus nobody has any energy in that room. I wonder if cancer and chemo is a transferable poison to aliens.

Anyway, that went off the rails a bit. I’m off to get my drugs in, and hope there’s no secret sneaky creatures in my chest today.

8 more after today.

Updated because I put the damn date in instead of the actual number…today is the 9th and I had my 8th infusion, which means I have 8 left. Good lord…I blame chemo brain. 

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