Aromasin: Detox

Two weeks ago, I was given clean scans and taken off the aromasin, the aromatase inhibitor that I’ve been taking since February 1, in preparation for chemotherapy this fall. I was not yet strong enough for chemo, so I am resting and recovering and pushing myself to get stronger. I’m eating a little extra protein and a little less junk (I’ve substituted almonds for pretzels as my snack.)

Yes, I went to BlogHer ’10. And yes, I will write about the sessions. but not right now. Right now I’m resting and detoxing from the Aromasin. I have cold chills and times when I can’t get warm. I’m achy and slightly sensitive to touch. My skin is changing a little, perhaps due to the fact that the little estrogen in my body (not a lot, since I’ve had my ovaries out) isn’t being neutralized now. I don’t actually know what normal side effects for ending endocrine therapy like aromasin are, and it’s ok. I feel what I feel, and that’s the way it is.

On Monday night or Tuesday morning, I will start chemotherapy again. This time, it will be a pill called Xeloda. I’ll take four in the morning and four at night, and I won’t have to leave my babies for trips to the chemo ward. I’m grateful for that. Grateful that I won’t have to sit there alone, wrapped in blankets, chilled through to my bone as the icy fluid races through my veins. Grateful not to have to ride home, reclined, trying not to vomit or scare my sweetie sitting beside me, driving me home, who had just held my hand in the chemo chair, keeping me company, keeping me entertained, even though we both knew that it was a fool’s errand at best. Grateful that I won’t have to be stuck with the IV needle or live in isolation from people and germs, although I will still have to be careful not to playdate with anyone who is sick.

I suppose gratitude is a funny emotion to bubble up like this, as I rest and get ready for chemo again. I should be angry, perhaps, and I have been, and I am, but today I only want to rest. To get stronger. To get ready.

To detox from the aromasin, and to get ready for Xeloda.

15 Responses to Aromasin: Detox

  1. Lisa says:

    Bless you Susan!
    We can’t wait to play and promise to keep our germs to ourselves.
    Hugs, MLML

  2. Stacy says:

    You are in my thoughts and I admire your practical thinking, your honesty and your humbleness. You are my hero. Sending you healthy warm thoughts….

    XOXO

  3. Niksmom says:

    Sending you thoughts of health and good feelings (of the physical kind as well as the emotional/psychological!). Holding visions of a rested, healthy you playing with your children, teaching the world about science and writing and love and hope. You’re awesome.

  4. You are a gift to the world.

  5. Kate @ upsidebackwards says:

    Your grace awes me. I hope the Xeloda has maximum good effects for you and minimum bad effects. And I’ll be sending lots of hugs and good vibes from afar🙂

  6. Twice Five Miles says:

    I am also a toddler mother, one year out of chemo for lymphoma. I just want to say that I am sending so many good thoughts your way. Know that you are not alone.

  7. Jana says:

    Hi Susan,
    Bravo on your BlogHer trip/ presentation. For the moment, I will be brief: My Mom took Xeloda for a year. First thing you should know: Yes, the list of potential side effects will sound daunting, but (at least for my Mom) it actually turned out to be really very tolerable. None of the dreadful stuff on the list happened to her. BUT in case no one has told you this yet — this is IMPORTANT, a MUST-do: Per a pharmacist at the nation’s top-ranked cancer center (MD Anderson at the University of Texas in Houston): you should take “glutamine” EVERY day when you are on Xeloda (or other chemo). That’s an amino acid that will help to replenish/ rebuild the mucous membranes and intestinal tract tissue that gets whammied by chemo. If memory serves, it’s the most common amino acid in the human body. (As you probably already know, chemo is effective against cancer cells because chemo zaps fast-dividing cells, and cancer cells are of course fast-dividing cells — but unfortunately, your normal healthy mucous membrane and intestinal tract cells are also fast-dividing cells, which is why Xeloda can trigger diarrhea and mouth-sores, etc. But my Mom was diligent about taking the glutamine every day, and lo and behold, she NEVER got the diarrhea that is supposedly common with Xeloda. Get “pharmaceutical-grade” glutamine — it comes as a powder in a jar, and when you are on chemo you should take from 16mg to 30mg a day (depending on which source is talking). It’s very simple, you just drop two scoops of the flavorless white powder into a glass of water (or other liquid) and drink it, approx. 4 to 6 times a day. Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste bitter or bad — no taste at all. Jarrow is a reliable brand (availble through http://www.iHerb.com or LuckyVitamin.com, etc.) Jarrow is the one that my Mom used with Xeloda. This is the sort of thing that your top-notch oncologist will probably forget to tell you (as my Mom’s did), but when you do a search about glutamine online, or if you ask your oncologist about it, you will find that it is legit — and enormously helpful. Essential if you are on chemo. Best wishes.

  8. C.Mom says:

    I think that gratitude for being able to be home with your kiddos while you take the chemo is a perfect feeling! I hope that each of their smiles brings you joy- even if the roughest of moments. xo

  9. Karen says:

    What a woman you are Susan! Blogher, campaigning, raising awareness, trying to make a difference for us all – and you are! Rest and gather your strength and know that we are thinking of you all the way and sending much love. Karen (UK)x

  10. Diane says:

    Just read your post today-
    Remembering you and your strength you shared in the years past with me and my family. Please take care and rest when you can…
    Diane

  11. NYFriend says:

    Wishing you well, lots of energy and no side effects! 🙂

    Big hugs to you!

  12. Thinking of you. I’m so glad you will get to do this at home. Wishing you strength!

  13. Miss Britt says:

    Please excuse my ignorance – but is the chemo to prevent it from coming back? I’m unclear of the reason for doing it after clear scans.

    Here’s to a good rest…

  14. Jana says:

    Oops… correction: The daily dose of L-Glutamine (to prevent/ alleviate chemo side effects) should be 16 to 30 GRAMS (instead of milligrams, as I erroneously typed in my earlier comment). Best wishes

  15. Jana says:

    Also: In a previous comment, I mentioned taking “two scoops” of glutamine at a time (2 scoops = 4mg), several times a day (in order to prevent/ alleviate chemo side effects) — but I should add that I have read that you could also take 10 mg three times a day (with no side effects)… all that matters is that it add up to (ideally) 30mg total for the day (the amount that was used in studies). You will be on the maximum dose of Xeloda, so it would be wise to aim for the 30 grams of glutamine daily, instead of only 16 grams. Studies have shown that glutamine can also help to prevent/ mitigate chemo-induced neuropathy (which is also a potential issue with Xeloda), so it really is important that you start taking glutatmine as soon as you start the Xeloda — and keep taking it every day, EVEN DURING YOUR DAYS OFF of the chemo, to help replenish/ rebuild your tissues. As I mentioned, this is a according to many reputable sources. Just passing along lessons learned, to hopefully help you avoid/ alleviate side effects (and thereby avert/minimize chemo dose reductions and/or interruptions), so that you can get the maximum benefit from the chemo. Good luck!

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