Neuropathy is the name of what’s happening to me this week. It’s called peripheral neuropathy, and that phrase can mean anything from a tingling in the patient’s fingers and toes, which I first experienced last Friday, to real pain, to the near-total loss of use of one’s legs, which happened to me on Tuesday night.
I’ve been very lucky not to develop this before now, actually. Over a third of cancer patients do develop some neuropathy over the course of their treatments, so I’m not very worried about it right now. It’s likely just a side effect of the chemotherapy treatment that I’ve been receiving for the past 10 weeks (Taxol). And that’s why we’re taking a break from chemo this week. Hopefully the week off will allow my system some time to recover and the pain to diminish.
Already, my legs are responding more to me (no more wheelchair!) and I can feel my left foot. My right foot and leg, up to the knee, is still tingling and painful to the touch, but I hope that will also resolve in the next few days. Thankfully, although my fingers tingle, they are not painful and I can still type(!).
Our meeting with the oncologist on Thursday went surprisingly well, this development excluded, and we got to meet with the radiation oncologist for the first time as well. IF the neuropathy resolves by next Wednesday, we will go on with the treatment and simply add another treatment on to the end, making my last treatment December 27. If it doesn’t resolve, to avoid futher nerve damage, we will continue with a reduced dosage of the Taxol or start a new chemotherapy drug regime, which may entail a much longer set of treatments extending through January and beyond. That would suck.
The possibility I had hoped for — going straight to surgery in a few weeks — is not a viable option at this point. The tumor is still present and of large enough size that they’re not comfortable operating since they can’t be sure to get clean margins (those magic words mean they got all the cancer plus a bit of healthy tissue around the edges, ensuring that the cancer cells are gone) yet. We want clean margins. So if we must wait, we must wait. But waiting is scary, since IBC spreads so fast. We need to get back into active treatment on Thursday.
But first, I need to go check on my little boys and see if they’re done with their naps. Have a safe weekend, everyone.