Tuesday, April 4, 2017

March Chemo Changes

Demo and painting session my buddy's granddaughters, Bryton and Madison, March 5th. 

March was a roller coaster ride, some joy, another complication, more joy. On the first Sunday, I spent a pleasant afternoon painting the young ladies above. 

The following Sunday, Bill and I drove to Waterton Lakes National Park. It's only an hour and forty-five minutes away making it an easy afternoon drive. Just being in the mountains lifted my spirit and filled my soul. I miss living in them terribly, plus it had been six months since I was last in their embrace.

Just outside of Waterton Lakes National Park 
At Cameron Falls, on the edge of the Waterton townsite, March 12th

Perhaps I hadn't cooked it correctly, but the Bedrocan cannabis oil was of no use. Over a three week period I gradually increased the dose from 1ml, three times a day, to 5ml three times a day. I was sick of ingesting so much sunflower oil with absolutely no pain relief. I quit their oil the day of my appointment with Dr. Abounaja (March 7th) who prescribes the medicinal marijuana. He wrote a another prescription, which I needed for Cannimed, the new provider. They have the ready made oil, with a 20 to 1 ratio of CBD to THC. It arrived March 24th. It took over two weeks to cancel one provider and get registered with another. While waiting, I caved in and filled a prescription for Celebrex. I was desperate. I've since quit it. Starting low and going slow, I'm experimenting with the cannabis oil looking for the dosage that will work for me. 


Some colourful joy arrived March 14th. What are the odds that these two gorgeous bouquets would arrive, on the same day, from Ontario friends we have known for as long as they have known one another? Our best man, Bob, and his wife, Christine, live in Grimsby and Lori lives in London. They assured me they did not confer prior to wiring the flowers. 

The day after receiving the flowers, a care package arrived in the mail from Erica Neumann. It was filled with wonderful products from the Chinook Honey Company. I'd never heard of them or Propolis. The Black Ointment Propolis has worked very well in settling down the lesions on my legs.

Mid month I contracted Chemotheraphy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy. Simply put it's damaged peripheral nervesNot everyone undergoing treatment gets it. The soles of my feet always feel numb, there is often a pins and needles sensation but worst of all is the intense burning pain which, thankfully, isn't constant. However it rages at night. CIPN can advance to not knowing where your feet are. Peripheral nerves do have the ability to regenerate if they are not too badly damaged.  Often CIPN goes away over time, unless you happen to be one of a subset of patients who are affected by it for life. I was prescribed Gabpentin, used for both preventing epileptic seizures and in calming nerve pain. I took 200mg twice a day for five days before increasing it to 400mg twice a day as prescribed. The morning after the increase I woke up dizzy and light headed. I had difficulty thinking and was so very sleepy.  I had two, two hour naps, one in the morning, one in the afternoon and still I slept well that night. Thinking it was a reaction to something, I quit everything that day, March 27th. It was later confirmed as a reaction to Gabapentin.  

There are some frightening images on the Internet but I give you this one
CIPN often necessitates reducing or even discontinuing chemo treatments. I phoned the Tom Baker Cancer Centre about it on Friday, they gave me an appointment the very next Monday, March 20th with Dr. Babaier. He recommended two more treatments, three weeks apart as opposed to the six weekly dose dense treatments I had remaining. Paclitaxel is increased for these treatments to compensate for the dropped treatments. This gives my body a rest, yet still completes the full six cycles of treatments. As well, my white blood cells have an opportunity to replenish themselves which meant that I could discontinue the Neupogen injections. Home care nurses had administered 24 of the proposed 40. This is a blessing since Neuopen promotes joint pain. Also, with this new regime, I'm not having blood drawn every week which is done at the Claresholm lab three days prior to every chemo treatment.

Other things seemed to come in twos this month. One week I had two care packages arrive on the same day! Many thanks to Meg and the Smiths for their thoughtfulness. 

On March 23rd, my second to last day in The Chair, two couples visited, Bill is always with me. Jackie and Ed, from Canmore, arrived first. We four talked non-stop for two hours until Calgarians, Joe and Carol, arrived. After treatment we enjoyed lunch with the latter two, plus we attended the People's Portrait Prize exhibition at cSPACE consisting of over 450 works. Such fabulous art. So stimulating.

With Erica Neumann's exquisite portrait of Brook MacDonald
Carol with a colourful portrait, that reminded me of Win. Sadly I didn't catch Joe in a photo.
Love this portrait drawn on a painted panel - see the brush marks that contribute to the texture? 

On March 25th, Bill and I had fun at an antique auction in Vulcan, a forty minute drive away. As I'd being taking Celebrex I was experiencing a reduction in hip pain. I was able to walk well and without a cane that day. It's a real treat to get out, going anywhere other than attending medical appointments.

We arrived at Vulcan in time to view the lots on offer at the antique auction, March 25th 

The grand finale of the month was a visit from John and Win Dinn. Knowing that I have limited energy and that a sleep over would be too taxing, they stopped in for a few hours on their way to Calgary for a couple of nights, to visit with family. Like many of our other friends have done, they arrived bearing lunch, and gifts and much appreciated food for the freezer. And then there was the energy healing Win did on both of us - many thanks.   

With the Dinns March 31st.  Behind me you can see the half moon table we bought at the auction 

Win and I knew we wouldn't get to making art but she did leave me her Inktense Pencils to play with. I enjoyed working a journal page layout with them. Their colours are more intense than watercolour pencils. Win collected her pencils when they were homeward bound. This afforded us a second visit over a Sunday brunch. 

Pretending to play with the Inktense pencils

My last chemotherapy treatment will be April 13th, not the 27th, which was the originally scheduled finish date. I'll be done two weeks early and that, let me tell you, is a reason to celebrate! 


  1. Reason to celebrate indeed!!! You done good girlfriend!

  2. Love you so much - you are the bravest person and Bill is such a rock by your side, great vibes to you both!!! Claudine & Sebas XOXOXOX

    1. And I love you!
      Thanks for calling me bravo. Bill is my rock and he's so devoted, good that he is - I could never do this without him!

  3. Replies
    1. Many thanks, good friend who went before me and has guided me through all of this xox

  4. Oh Alice, it just breaks my heart that you are having to endure this. Much love to you my friend

    1. Sharon, thanks for your compassionate words.
      I'm so glad that this part of the wretched journey is almost over.

  5. As always, it amazes and inspires me that you manage to do and be so much in the midst of this cancer journey. I tip my hat to you, knowing that you will come through it all to the perfect health you deserve. Much love and admiration, my friend. xo

    1. Many thanks for you sympathy and kind hearted words here and daily. You always prop me up when I'm low. I love you.

  6. From Judy Wilson;
    read your blog you look good love you . paulpsrricha@hotmail.com

    1. Dear baby sister, many thanks for reading, for the lovely compliment and for your love! xox