I want to start by thanking you all again for your love and support. This past week has been challenging, to say the least, so I haven't been able to blog as much as I would like. I'm feeling great today so I'll do my best to update you now. Unfortunately, most of this update isn't as positive as I would like it to be- but it is what it is and I want to keep everyone informed. I'm looking forward to sharing some good news in the near future.
I finished my first round of chemo this past week. The chemotherapy treatment itself is the easy part; the unpredictable and torturous side effects are proving to be the worst. Saturday, October 19th, the chemo side effects really started taking a toll on my body. My overall blood count dropped, blood pressure was low, and white blood cell count was low (all expected). I'd like to think I had been handling everything pretty well until I fainted in the shower both Saturday and Sunday. The fainting spells are really embarrassing. I pride myself on my independence. When you find yourself on the floor in a towel in front of everyone you're everything but independent.
I've lost 11 lbs since starting treatment, though the doctor said this isn't necessarily a bad thing. He said my consistent weight loss is due to my body flushing toxins. I now weigh 112lbs. I'm tiny but losing a bunch of H2O weight is normal at this stage, all else considered. The lymph node tumor in my chest has dwarfed. I'm putting up a good fight and making great process of rocking cancer right out of that node!!! Both my Oncologist and Internal Medicine Physician have mentioned it takes several courses of chemo to fully knock it out, but we are well on our way! BINGO! ... how's that for a little optimism and cure talk? :) I'm responding just as I should, if not better, in that arena.
Monday, October 21st was a big day. My white blood cell count, hemoglobin, and platelets fell dangerously low. The chemo is doing its job and destroying cancer cells but has also damaged many good cells which are taking long to regenerate. My hemoglobin levels (how much blood is in my body/ how much blood my body is producing) had fallen to dangerously low levels. A blood transfusion was my only option at that point. Waiting on the blood bank to get back with a match was a very strange feeling. Wondering who's blood I'd get, what type of human they are. Spunky blood? Boring blood? Male? Female? A million questions were running through my head. One thing I was certain of: now that I'll have a little of someone else in me I can blame anything on them! "Sorry, It was the blood talking" or "My blood donor had a lead foot, officer." My new blood arrived in all of its B positive glory. The full blood-transfusion was done through a neat "port" that was surgically inserted in my chest. The port connects to the main artery in my heart and is one of the greatest medical inventions ever. The full transfusion took roughly 4.5 hours, most of which I slept through. Everything went smoothly.
Resting and eating are now my two most important jobs. Doesn't sound half bad right? Wrong! I really took for granted my days of beach walks, dog snuggles, boyfriend love, dawg hangs, and working.
Tuesday, October 22nd, I was told my platelets had now also fallen dangerously low and like the blood, a platelet transfusion was protocol. Platelets are best described as the little guys who work to clot blood and keep me from "bleeding out" of my orifices: ears, eyes, nose, etc. Unlike the blood transfusion, the platelet is a much more common and routine procedure that only takes around 30 minutes. Well, we all know my luck and that things cant come too easy for Kaleigh K...20 or so minutes into the platelet transfusion, I broke out in itchy hives which turned into bruising over my entire body. Luckily we stopped the transfusion before any worse side effects occurred.
Today, Wednesday, October 23, is the BEST day I've had thus far. Being filled up with new blood and given platelets was exactly what my body needed!! 95% of my pain is has subsided. I took a shower without fainting. I've been eating like a horse and feel full of energy. My spirits have always been high so that's nothing new. I'm amazed at how tough my body is. It's working so hard to get better and I'm going to keep fighting the good fight until we get there! Unfortunately, all people with sick symptoms STILL need to stay home and those who do visit need to wear a sweet mask. My cells should be regenerating quickly and my days left in the hospital are shortly numbered.
I expect to be feeling even better in about a week and plan to go home mid-next week, October 30th or 31st. (Just in time for Halloween). After being discharged my mom, Dawn, sister, Kristin, and I will take a looooong day trip to UCLA. There we will find out if Kristin is a bone marrow match and gain knowledge on the help/risk of a bone marrow transplant. Expect a separate blog post regarding that.
One last shout-out and positive note... I'm very fortunate in a lot of ways and I try not to forget that. This past week I was reminded when my college roommate, Jessica Schwartz, (who I often refer to as "Wife") came to town from Iowa. Her being here was so wonderful and brought so much light into what has proven to be the most difficult week of my life, thus far. We balance each other out. We always have. Having her here brought a sense of peace, calmness, and hope. We took a few "long" walks and did some light yoga stretching via you-tube videos. Talked of the past, the present, and dreamed of the future. NOT to leave the rest of my unbelievable support team out, who I appreciate equally. I just thought Jessie deserved a little spotlight in this post. I can't wait for more visitors! Due to the nature of the beast some times are better than others, so please check with me first :)
Of course, my unwavering gratitude to all of YOU! Thank you EVERYONE for the outpouring of support, love, prayers, friendly notes, gifts, donations... the list goes on and on. I can't wait to get better and do something REALLY great for all of you!!!